Can’t get enough of Crazy Rich Asians? Try drinking like one! As any fan of the Singapore-set book series knows, food and drink play a pivotal role in the novel. Furthermore, the movie of the same name, which premiered on Wednesday, August 15, features several scenes that center around unique Singaporean cuisine.
That’s why Us Weekly spoke to mixologist Peter Chua, who was named one of Diageo Reserve World Class’s best bartenders in the world in 2014. Chu, who is a head barman at Junior The Pocket Bar in Singapore, told Us all about what it means to him to have Singapore and its culture be represented in such a large-scale Hollywood movie, and even shared one of his signature cocktail recipes that takes a classic American drink and combines it with distinct Singaporean flavors.
“Nobody knows where Singapore is, which is sad, but it’s one of the smallest countries in the world, so I understand,” Chua tells Us with a laugh. “Sometimes I guess people find it hard to fathom the idea that it’s a thriving metropolis that’s one of the richest nations in the world that’s that small in the middle of Southeast Asia.”
People’s lack of knowledge about Singapore makes Chua especially excited for Crazy Rich Asians, which he thinks will give the country’s art and culture scene a “good boost.”
The skilled bartender also does his best to showcase Singaporean flavors through the drinks he creates, which can sometimes be a challenge since Singapore doesn’t really have flavors that are uniquely its own. “Our country was founded on a multitude of different greater nations coming together on this island and then forming what is now known as Singapore, essentially,” Chua explains. “I could trace any cuisine or drinks or desert or culture that could be traced back to China or India or Malaysia or Indonesia. The challenge whenever it comes to creating drinks that are Singaporean is how do you not cross the line between being genuine and not being too cliche.”
One such drink Chua crafted, the Straits Manhattan, combines a classic American cocktail with an array of South East Asian spices. The libation is obviously named after the American city, but Chua also wanted to add Asian flavors to it. “The thing I thought that made sense was using Asian five-spice and something that’s already prevalent in the flavor profiles of the drink, which is using Angostura bitters, which is really an ingredient that has a lot of spiciness in it.”
“I try my best to showcase some unique ingredients or flavor profiles that you can get predominantly in Southeast Asia and Singapore, while still catering to a palate that’s more universally defined,” Chua added.
Check out the recipe for a Straits Manhattan below:
Makes 1 serving
• 1.7 oz Bulleit Rye
• 0.85 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica
• 3 dashes five-spice Angostura bitters
5-Spice Angostura Bitters
• 1.7 oz Angostura bitters
• 0.35 oz cloves
• 0.14 oz star anise
• 0.18 oz cinnamon
• 0.07 grated nutmeg
• 0.18 oz green cardamom
- Lightly toast the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, grated nutmeg and green cardamom in a pan.
- Let the toasted spices sit in the Angostura bitters for one hour.
- Strain out spices.
- Garnish with single star anise, stir and serve up – shaken or stirred with ice and then strained and served without ice – in a cocktail coupe or pony glass.
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!