Three bar masters. Three “secret” ingredients. One judge. Would Beijing’s cocksure mixologists fumble when faced with an unusual condiment or unfamiliar fruit? Or can they concoct a drink to impress one tough taster? In the spirit of Iron Chef, we put our bartenders to the test by announcing a secret ingredient, giving them ten minutes to conceive of and create a mix, and finding out just how creative a cocktail can get.

This month's iron ingredients include kelp, durian pudding, and Jin Jiu.

The Contestants:

Alfred Yu, Xian Bar, East Hotel Beijing
The 23-year-old from Henan province studied under Beijing’s legendary bartender, Tony Zhao of 99 Club. If you ever catch him having a drink, he’ll always go for the classics, but if he’s attending a guest, then he likes to grab for the gin. When it comes to ingredients for this competition, he says he’d take on just about anything.

Ross Harris, Más
Ross brought Florida to Beijing when he opened Mas two years ago, introducing deadly tiki drinks to the hutongs.“Bartending is cooking, straight up,” he says. “I don’t have flair or skill. I don’t know how to spin around and sh*t, but it’s just flavor combining.” The durian-loving “chef” cooks up exotic cocktails every Sunday from 4-10pm at Mas’s tropical barbecue.

Alan Wang, Cantina Agave
If you want to know the ins and outs of a margarita, ask Alan Wang, who would make you one of Cantina Agave’s four versions of the tequila drink over a boozy horchata in a heartbeat. Wang has been behind the bar for four years, whipping up cocktails at the Regent Hotel on Financial Street before hitting Sanlitun. His mix of choice? “Lady drinks,” i.e., sour and sweet.

The Judge:

Sam Bobertz, Xian Bar, East Hotel Beijing
Sam began his bartending career when he was 16 years old in Hong Kong. Now, already three years into his stint in Beijing, he channels his experience into innovative projects for Xian. While he’s one for the dark Italian digestifs, Sam likes to let guests ingest a more palatable version of the liqueur, with passion fruit, rum and lime.

The Ingredients:

Kelp, durian pudding, and jin jiu

To find out how each of them fared click here to go straight to our latest issue.

Photos: Mitchell Pe Masilun

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog