"Thoughtfully crafted drinks in uncommon spaces"
This is the first line that you will read when you land on Sugar Water's website, and it could not be more accurate. Kyo-Jean Simon Chung, of Sugar Water, has taken a non-traditional approach to how and where we would expect to find quality craft cocktails. From private events to pop ups, collaborations with local restaurants and take home cocktail kits, Kyo has creatively made his way into our cocktail loving hearts.
Along with the cocktail recipes, Kyo created a simple syrup as part of a collaboration with us, featuring one of our super tasty coffees. The coffee is an anaerobic natural process coffee called La Minilla from the West Valley in Costa Rica, with flavours like Christmas cake and cinnamon. The syrup, Monogram Spice, will be part of a collaboration in the cafes available in bottles and in a latte called "Sugar & Spice", with proceeds going towards Inn from the Cold for the month of November.
As usual, we asked Kyo to tell us a bit about himself :
What are you inspired by?
As a son of immigrants, I've always had a strong influence from a very different culture from where I was born. Through that lens and experience in this incredibly diverse country, I've always been inspired by other unique cultures, customs, art, food, and beverages and how they came to be and how they evolve, adapt and change in a different time and place.
Who in your industry do you admire, and why?
Unlike many in the food and beverage industry, Sugar Water is blessed to work in a unique niche where we are constantly collaborating with people and businesses both inside and outside of the industry. In that same vein, I've always had an admiration for small business owners, but particularly those individuals who choose to take the risk, embody their passion and take a strong morale stance and commit themselves to creating a positive and impactful community for good.
What does community mean to you?
Community is everything, it is the primary foundation of what we do. Our service, in its simplest explanation, is helping small and large communities of people and businesses create a memorable shared experience. Beyond that, I work hard to create our own expressions and experiences in collaboration with the community I've built over the years. It is the most rewarding aspect of what I do and it is what allows Sugar Water to continue to exist and thrive no matter what the situation or circumstance.
What is the inspiration behind this cocktail?
It's gotta be this incredible coffee first and foremost but for all our cocktail creations we primarily draw on seasonality, diversity and community. In this case, a season that inspires intimacy with oneself and with loved ones, ingredients that are unique, far reaching, and impactful, sourced from our favourite local businesses in our community.
These cocktails are meant to warm and stimulate the senses, while celebrating our core values. We start with another unique and stunning Monogram coffee accentuated by beautiful spices from the Silk Road. The coffee is a Natural Anaerobic process from Costa Rica, "La Minilla", that expresses incredibly vibrant and seasonal notes of Christmas cake, strawberry and cinnamon. It is the best kind of tasting adventure and thus inspired our Rum choice. While any good quality Aged Rum will work with the profile of the syrup we created, the one I chose to use was the Plantation Xaymaca, a 100% Pot Still Jamaican Rum. This rum is extremely flavorful with a funky aroma that is quintessential to the Jamaican style, the notes of black banana and flambéed pineapple works incredibly well with the coffee and the spice profile of the syrup. I picked it up from our good friends at Vine Arts.
What role does coffee play in your life?
Coffee has actually been a weirdly foundational part of my entire life and is a large part of the story of my family. We've been running a cafe in downtown Calgary since 1978 and for as long as I can remember I was fascinated and enamoured by this incredibly aromatic product that came from the most foreign and exotic places. It played a huge part in my love of food and beverage, my curiosity of different cultures, and thus played a role in many of the major decisions I've made in my life, from taking International Commerce at school, traveling, studying and working abroad and ultimately starting my own coffee import and export business.
What is your coffee order?
A Black Americano in a short cup, but almost always when I visit Monogram there is a unique feature pour-over or espresso to try and I'm always a sucker for something different. Give it to me straight.
What is your favourite meal, cuisine or snack?
Unsurprisingly I have a deep love of Korean food, in particular Gamjatang which is a spicy soup primarily made with Pork Bones and Potatoes amongst a litany of other vegetables depending on the chef. If you're my Mom or Grandma, whatever veg is about to go bad will make it into the soup. In that same vein I also consume other Soups like Ramen and Pho 3-4 times a week, spicy all day everyday. I'm a stickler for seasoning and I love cuisines that aren't shy of big bold flavours.
What is your favourite cocktail?
Like my food I like big and bold flavours, I'll tend towards the boozier, bitter, and sour cocktails. If I see an amaro on the ingredient list there is a good chance I'll give that a try but especially if there is a weird ingredient or an unexpected combination. I'm down for a good adventure and I'm always the one to sit at the bar and chat up the bartender and let them make something that excites them. Thought that is reserved for great cocktails bars and/or restaurants with great bartenders.
Some examples of some favourites would be a Negroni and all it's variations, the bitter and boozy is my jam and I generally prefer the darker spirits so make it a Boulevardier by subbing the Gin for a good Bourbon. I've also had some beautiful variations that use Amaro instead of Vermouth and Mezcal instead of Gin. I'm a sucker for that smoky, earthy and floral spirit they call Mezcal.
If I want something a little more bright with citrus juice I will go with the boozy and sour Corpse Reviver #2 and all it's variations. Paper Plane that uses Bourbon, Aperol and Amaro Nonino and my go to variation is the Naked and Famous; Mezcal of course with Aperol and Yellow Chartreuse.
What is your favourite ingredient to use?
No favourites really, I like using something unexpected. I love venturing out to unique ethnic shops and specialty grocers like the Lightcellar and Silk Road to find a unique ingredient to experiment and play with. Cause we're always doing one off events and collaborations I'm always playing with creating something unique for the occasion.
- Double Rocks/ Old Fashioned Glasses
- Tall Coupe/ Martini Glasses
- A Mixing glass is optional
- A Cocktail Shaker (if you dont have one, no worries! A Protein Shaker, Mason jar or wide mouth water bottle will do! As long as you can get a tight seal and it can handle vigorous shaking)
- A cocktail mixing spoon, but any spoon will do
- A measuring tool such as a jigger, but a medicine cup or a set of baking measuring spoons will do the trick
- Lots of ice
- SW Monogram Spice syrup
- Good quality aged/dark rum ( I used a 100% pot still Jamaican Rum for a little extra funk
- Limes for both the juice and garnish
- Cinnamon sticks
Open Arms (Los Brazos Abiertos)
- 2 oz Your Rum of Choice
- 0.75 - 1 oz SW Monogram Spice syrup (adjust for personal preference)
- 0.75 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
- Garnish - Cinnamon stick & lime wheel
Build all ingredients in your Shaking Tool of choice and fill with a generous amount of ice. The more ice, the slower the dilution.
We’re shaking to rapidly chill, dilute and combine so you really want to give it your all. Make sure your shaker is sealed nice and tight and that when you're shaking, the ice is hitting each end of your shaking device through each shake. So work that body and those arms hard by shaking vigorously for 7-10 seconds. As a general rule, if a cocktail includes any citrus juice then it is best shaken in order to incorporate air and ultimately create a brighter and more vibrant mouthfeel.
Shaking is a personal and unique style to many bartenders so have fun with it!
Strain into the Coupe/Martini Glass of choice removing any small to large chunks of ice.
Garnish with lime wheel and if you're feeling adventurous ,for added theatre and effect, take a cinnamon stick and burn the tip and place in the drink. It creates a beautiful aroma and smoky depth that accentuates the flavours of the cocktail.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour, and repeat. Please adjust to your preference in strength, sweetness & sour, to each their own.
Warm Embrace (Caluroso Abrazo)
- 2 oz good quality aged rum
- 0.5 oz SW Monogram Spice simple syrup
- 0.25 oz Campari
- Garnish - Orange twist
Build all ingredients in a Mixing Glass with ice or directly in your Rocks Glass with ice and stir well until chilled around 10-15 seconds depending how fast. Taste intermittently till your drink is cold and still punchy as it will continue to dilute and smooth our as you sip it. Again, don't be shy with the amount of ice you use!
The purpose of stirring the drink as opposed to shaking is controlling dilution. You’re still chilling and combining, but in a spirit forward drink like this you’re really looking to get the balance right. We want to chill and dilute the spirit to
make an enjoyable drink, but not so much that it takes away from the richness and flavour. When mixing and pouring, try not to disturb the liquid so much where you see bubbles formed, we're going for a smoother and more velvety mouth experience.
If using a Mixing Glass, strain into Rocks Glass filled with fresh ice cubes.
Garnish with Orange Twist, express the oils over top and around the rim and drop it in. Again, if you're feeling adventurous and for added theatre and effect, take a cinnamon stick and burn the tip and place in the drink..
Enjoy the fruits of your labour, and repeat. Please adjust to your preference in strength and sweetness, to each their own.
Follow Sugar Water on social media @sugarwater.bar to see what they are up to, and don't forget to pop by the cafes this month where we will be featuring our collaboration, Monogram x Sugar Water, for the whole month with proceeds going towards Inn from the Cold.