Shaken or stirred there’s no denying the fact that the perfectly balanced cocktail can carry an evening away from monotonous methanol mix (we’ve all been there) to a Sean Connery level of shophishtication.

Whether you’re a shot caller or a tallglass baller our 2014 Annual Reader Bar & Club Awards showed us you're all quite the bunch of cocktail connoisseurs, but one stand-out drink deserved extra attention. Stephen Rocard from Mao Mao Chong is the man you want in charge of your night, serving the award winning Best Individual Cocktail ‘Mala Mule’.

We asked him a few questions about the perfect drinking backdrop, where the magic of the Mule lies, and what future experiments we can look forward to below:

If you could drink your prized cocktail anywhere, what backdrop would you choose?
Sipping Mala Mules atop the Great Wall of China late in the day watching the sun go down.

If this cocktail were a famous person, who would it be?
Someone with a spicy personality perhaps. My wife.

What makes the Mala Mule so popular?
I think the Mala Mule has become a popular cocktail at Mao Mao Chong because of its unique use of the iconic Chinese spice the Sichuan Pepper. And it's a well-balanced, great tasting drink.

Where does the magic lie in making the perfect cocktail?
No magic. Use quality ingredients and a balance of flavours that enhance each other. Don't skimp on the ice when mixing. Combine quality Gin, quality tonic, lots of chunky ice and fresh lemon and you have one of my favourite cocktails, the perfect G&T.

Any new cocktail experiments on the horizon?
We are always experimenting, that's half the fun of being a bartender. Recently we have been working on summer drinks using fresh floral flavours, orange blossom, rose and musk.

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