Food & drink

Mixologist Zdenek Kastanek on what to pour while you pack

Turn a pre-travel chore into a pre-party. Here, our favourite Singapore-based bar guru shares recipes for the best cocktails to mix while you load your luggage.

Amelia Mularz

BY Amelia Mularz16 January 2018

Packing is an art, and like many of the arts – particularly the culinary kind – we like to think it calls for cocktail accompaniment. That’s why we reached out to our friend Zdenek “Zee” Kastanek in Singapore for some aperitif advice. Zee, who is basically a shaman with a cocktail shaker, has lent his expertise to celebrated bar 28 HongKong Street and hospitality group Proof & Company. He’s also been a finalist for the industry’s prestigious International Bartender of the Year award four times at Tales of the Cocktail. And speaking of awards, he’s helping judge the Best Date-Night Bar in the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards 2018.

Zdenek Kastanek

Zdenek at work

Aside from the types of trips mentioned below, Zee recommends a visit to Singapore if you really want to mix your tipples with your travels. ‘Singapore is just off the hook in terms of diversity and creativity in cocktails’, he says. ‘I really don’t think there’s another city pushing this hard… apart from London.’ And as far as what to drink once you’re at cruising altitude, Zee points out that we don’t taste as much at 30,000 feet, so choose accordingly. ‘Go for something really big on flavour. For me, that’s a Bloody Mary’, he says.

Now, for those packing pairings, grab some glassware and your go-to suitcase…

For a winter sun holiday
Sometimes all you need is a simple combo. When it comes to your holiday, it’s sun and sand; as for your packing drink, Zee says a mix of Campari and soda should get you in the mood for some serious waterfront lounging.

Campari and soda
2 ounces Campari
soda water
lemon or lime wedge for a garnish

Add the Campari to a high-ball glass with ice. Top off with soda water. If you’re feeling especially festive, add a lemon or lime wedge as a garnish.

For a ski escape
Before you go hog wild on hot cocoa, Zee suggests a good mulled wine to help you slide into a slope-focused state of mind. Just don’t down too much and forget to toss something critical, like your thermals, into your suitcase.

Mulled wine
500ml Malbec
150ml Mancino Rosso vermouth
100ml port wine
150ml honey
100ml water
2 cinnamon sticks (plus additional sticks for serving)
8 cloves
zest from 1 orange

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Keep a slow simmer going for about 30 minutes. Serve hot in glass mug with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer.

For a romantic rendezvous
Leave it to a cocktail connoisseur to know the way to our hearts. According to Zee, a French 75 is the only way to prepare for a full weekend with your partner.

French 75
30ml St George Terroir gin
20ml fresh lemon juice
20ml simple syrup
100ml champagne brut
maraschino cherries (for garnish)
lemon zest (for garnish)

Shake all ingredients except the champagne. Pour from shaker into coupe glass & top up with champagne. Garnish with maraschino cherry and a lemon zest, then wait for any aphrodisiac effects to kick in…