Recipient of Ketel One’s Sustainable Bar Award for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 and 2020, Bar Trigona is revamping its new menu to further focus on zero-wastage. 

Bar Trigona has been on a winning streak. Ever since its opening, the bar headed by Ashish Sharma has won numerous awards, from Best Hotel Bar in The Bar Awards Kuala Lumpur 2018 to entering Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 and even becoming the best bar in Malaysia for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020 at the 14th place.

While its first menu was more focused on the bar’s namesake — honey from the stingless Trigona bees, the latest revamped menu is a further exploration of local fruits and sustainability — from the skin to seed. The menu aims to “redefine the aesthetics of fruit” — that is to say, the fruit is still edible even though its appearance is imperfect, which is something that needs to be ingrained into all of us. 

Head bartender Ashish Sharma is letting his team take over the new cocktail menu.

Most of the fruits used in the cocktails now are sourced from local farmers, as the team in Bar Trigona explore innovative ways to fully utilise these fruits despite their outwards appearance. The results, as we personally experienced, were exceptional. From basics such as fermentation to clever ways of using the seed and later incorporating the seeds into paper, which guests can later bring home to propagate. 

Local fruits in the spotlight

While Sharma concocted Bar Trigona’s first menu, he left it entirely to his team to design the latest menu — with him taking charge of the mocktails. Several fruits have taken up the menu: mango, watermelon, mandarin oranges, and jackfruit. 

Mango Overloaded (RM60).

We personally got to try one from each section — first was the dark rum, cognac, and bourbon-based Mango Overloaded. The cocktail comes with mango honey and mango puree to fully utilise the fruit, while incorporating a side of lacto-fermentation in the process. It’s a sweet and refreshing tropical drink with rich nuances of mango.

We also had a taste of the Sunset Margarita that had tequila, Aperol, watermelon soda, and lined with a rim of vanilla salt. Instead of using orange liqueur as per the classic cocktail, bartender Joe Ngui swapped it out with Aperol for a slightly more herbaceous flavour, while the watermelon soda did its trick to add a fizzy, refreshing flavour to the drink. “Watermelon juice is very refreshing and I felt that it suits the style of a margarita,” said Ngui.

Sunset Margarita (RM50).

Meanwhile, Together by bartender Marcus Kwok is a lesson in not wasting drinks — specifically, beer that has gone flat. To Kwok, despite losing its fizziness, the underlying flavours of beer are still there and great to use as a base in a cocktail, which he did for Together. The drink also had cognac, Aperol, and jackfruit syrup inside, topped up with beer foam.

Next up, bartender Shawn Shadrach showcased his rendition of a Vesper – the Vespop – fortified with mandarin orange liqueur and delightful little bits of mandarin orange caviar that pops in your mouth. It’s a strong spirit-forward drink, so proceed with caution.

If you’re worried that honey is gone from the menu, worry not — it’s still there. This time around, you’ll have the chance to experience how three different kinds of raw honey will make the same cocktail taste different. In fact, you’ll be able to compare them side by side and gain a greater appreciation for it.

bar trigona
Vespop (RM60).

Overcoming food waste

Other than focusing on the life cycle of fruits, the bar also works closely with the kitchen team in Four Seasons KL to reuse the extra food. For example, oysters from the hotel’s restaurant were repurposed in the Take Me To The Sea mocktail, a savoury concoction that has watermelon, lemon, blue cheese honey, distilled oyster and olive water, and egg. Definitely an acquired taste.

Another mocktail that challenged our tastebuds was the ManDonald’s & Hi-C, a tribute to a certain fast food joint’s vintage drink and uses distilled truffle fries, with extras from the kitchen.

Soon to come

Bar Trigona also has plans to introduce clay pot-aged cocktails, incorporating an 8,000-year-old practice with modern cocktails. Why clay pots? These make for better control over the temperature and oxygen exchange, which allows the bartenders to better regulate the drinks.

The new menu at Bar Trigona will be released on June 30th. The bar has also resumed operations, so head on over and get your dose of cocktails.

(All images: NZP.)

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.