Want a cheeky holiday? Mixologist Brendon Khoo recommends drinks to make your Christmas merrier

December 15, 2023 - 3:29 PM
Singaporean mixologist Brandon Khoo; guests at the Monkey Shoulder popup at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City (Released)

Want to make the festive season more cheerful? Serving drinks and cocktails to family and friends can do the trick. 

But making an occasion more memorable and cheeky isn’t as simple as serving whatever drink is available. According to Singaporean mixologist Brendon Khoo, there’s no such thing as a cocktail that would fit every type of flavor profile. 

Instead, serving the “perfect drink” is a matter of getting to know what your guests are looking for in a cocktail or a bottle of spirit. 

“I’d recommend asking them what kind of flavor profile they’re looking for in their drink,” Khoo told Interaksyon when asked what would be the perfect drink to serve during the holidays. 

He added, “Are they looking for something sweet, maybe something more sour, maybe something more refreshing? Sometimes your favorite drink — the so-called best drink— may not be the best drink for that person.” 

Khoo, also the regional ambassador for scotch whiskey brand Monkey Shoulder, said that, based on his experience, Filipinos generally prefer drinks with a sweet flavor profile. 

“I would say it varies from person to person. Generally, in Southeast Asia, the palate tends to lean a bit sweeter,” he said.  

But everyone still has their specific preferences, Khoo explained. 

Still, Khoo offered some recommendations for specific drinks that could spice up the holiday and put Filipinos in a festive mood.

First, he recommends a drink he calls the “OMG” — basically a cocktail composed of ginger ale, Monkey Shoulder and orange wedge.

“So you got a bit of that ginger spice in that ginger ale, a bit of spice to get you ready for the holiday mood. A bit of Monkey Shoulder. And of course, you have a wedge of orange juice squeezed on the top to add a bit of citrus brightness to the drink,” he said. 

Meanwhile, those attending parties can make a mix he calls the Lazy Old Fashioned — a twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail — as a gift or a drink to spice up the occasion.

“All you need is a bottle of Monkey Shoulder, pour out about a 100ml, set it aside. And what you add back to the bottle is 90ml of a sugar syrup, 30ml of bitters like an angus syrup. Then give the bottle a shake. You’ll get 12 to 13 portions of Old Fashioned ready to go,” he said.

“Everyone goes to a party with a bottle of wine or spirit. How many show up to a party with a bottle of cocktail?”

The Monkey Shoulder popup at Bonifacio Global City. (Released)

Khoo was recently in the Philippines to visit the Monkey Shoulder Mixing Tree and Pop-Up at the Bonifacio Global City. The pop-up will run until the end of December. 

The pop-up is a “cheeky and playful alternative” for those who want to enjoy a drink or two — allowing those at BGC and nearby areas to avoid the dreadful Christmas traffic. 

“The popup serves great drinks on the ground floor,” Khoo said. “Then people can hit the second floor to enjoy a silent disco… you can let your inner dance animal or party animal without disturbing anyone.”

Having been in the country a couple of times just this year, Khoo said he would describe Filipinos as “always down to party,”

“It’s always a great time in the Philippines. Filipinos have always been so welcoming. A lot of people say it’s part of the culture. But I think it reigns true when you really experience Filipino hospitality. People are always down to party, and I think that is what’s great,” he said. 

But despite working at the hottest spots as a mixologist in several Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, Khoo said his definition of a good night out is simple. 

“My definition of a good night out is together with good friends, good food, good drink. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing specifically but when you’re at the right place having those three things, you’re always sure to have a good night,” Khoo explained.