Monkey Shoulder, the blended malt Scotch brand, has never been one to take itself too seriously. “Whilst William Grant & Sons has been making whisky for generations, Monkey Shoulder aims to take away some of the preconceptions about whisky, making it accessible and enjoyable to all,” said Dean Callan, global brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder.

They come up with out-of-the-box ideas that surprise and delight consumers. Not only do they make excellent whisky, they have also introduced barware that makes people in and out of the bar industry sit up and take notice. Monkey Shoulder’s first venture in creating barware was the iSpoon, a telescopic bar spoon launched in 2014.

This time, they looked to the past and saved a bar relic from the brink of extinction. Monkey Shoulder has remastered the innovative Konga Shaker (pronounced like the Gloria Estefan song that we won’t mention here so that it won’t get stuck in your head. Whoops—too late.) Originally made by the now defunct chrome bumper manufacturer, Kromex, the Konga Shaker has been tweaked to make some improvements—like adding a sieve for an easier pour—while retaining most of the design, including the big red kitschy knobs. The rotating handles essentially allow you to “roll” your cocktails and the shaker is sizable enough to fit six to seven cocktails in one go.

“Cocktail culture changes all the time. And it changes massively through history,” shares Jay Gray, Monkey Shoulder’s Southeast Asia brand ambassador, who introduced the novel bar tool to a thirsty and curious public at Hooch Bar. “Now, most bartenders, most of us are geeks or historians of some sort. Every time that we recreate or remake a Manhattan, a martini, any classic cocktail, we’re keeping it alive. That’s how it was with this (the Konga). If we let this never to be in the hands of bartenders again, it will just die. It will just be in history books.”

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Jay Gray, Monkey Shoulder’s Southeast Asia brand ambassador, introduced Monkey Shoulder in Manila during a series of bar shifts

The Konga works, in a sense, by rolling. “So you’re not necessarily pushing air into it because you’re not smashing the ice…what we’re doing is we’re filling it up to the top with ice, and the liquids in there, and while we’re rolling it, we’re pushing, we’re moving the liquid through the ice. So we’re chilling and diluting, almost as if you were stirring, but you’re creating a little bit more texture in there, because it’s moving fast enough,” Jay explains.

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The Konga Shaker can make up to six cocktails

There is also a theatrical aspect to it, as turning the knobs and rolling the Konga is not something one sees at every bar. It harkens back to a time when showmanship was a big part of bartending. The social aspect of the bar experience is also something that the Konga explores. “We want to create a sharing experience as well,” Jay says. “And that’s something, again, in cocktail culture that has been slightly lost: the idea of sharing cocktails, the idea of sipping from ‘the flowing bowl’ with someone else. So we reinvented that to give people something to play with.”

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Konga shaker has a built-in red knob that is used to roll the drinks
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ABV, The Curator, and Hooch bartenders had their own Konga Shaker embossed with their names
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The Konga Shaker is composed of three parts: the top lid, the strainer, and the body barrel with knobs

The Konga is perfect for making large batch cocktails or even punches. Some suggestions are: Fish House Punch (rum, cognac, and peach brandy, lemon juice, sugar), Boulevardier (bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari), negroni, mai tai, and zombie. The same time it would make one cocktail, you can make six. It’s great for busy nights.

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At the moment, the Konga Shaker is on a limited run—there are only 250 of these bad boys worldwide. They are giving it to a few bartenders as a “Thank you” for their support. “We want people to experience new styles of drinking, new tasting. At the end of the day, it all comes back to the bar. It’s not really about us, there’s minimum branding there,” Jay remarks. “It’s about giving bartenders something new to play with. It’s also giving them a story that they can tell, about cocktail history. Naturally when customers see it they’ll want to know about it.”

“Also, you don’t get cold hands. It’s perfect,” Jay adds.

Consumers who want to catch the Konga Shaker in action can head down to ABV, The Curator, and Hooch.

Jay went behind the bar at Hooch to serve up some Monkey Shoulder cocktails. First up was the light and refreshing yet boozy Pina-con-nada (Monkey Shoulder, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, fresh pineapple, chocolate bitters). It has herbal notes and had a faint salty/savory taste because of the Chartreuse). The Brewvardier, a take on the Boulevardier (Monkey Shoulder, Campari, cold brew coffee, Crème de Cacao), was a good pick-me-upper. Great for coffee lovers who want to have their coffee with some booze, it has a predominantly coffee flavor with a hint of alcohol. The Artist’s Spectacular (Monkey Shoulder, redcurrant syrup, lemon juice, Amontillado sherry, Champagne), a twist on the Artist’s Special, was served with blackberry jam on a dehydrated cracker. This refreshing, light, tart, and bubbly cocktail is very easy to drink and was one of the crowd favorites. Lastly, there was the Penicillin Fizz (Monkey Shoulder, lime juice, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, smoky whisky, vanilla ice cream). This decadent cocktail is rich, creamy, and fizzy—perfect for dessert.

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Pina-con-nada (Monkey Shoulder, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, fresh pineapple, chocolate bitters)
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Penicillin Fizz (Monkey Shoulder, lime juice, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, smoky whisky, vanilla ice cream)
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The Brewvardier, a take on the Boulevardier (Monkey Shoulder, Campari, cold brew coffee, Crème de Cacao)
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Artist’s Spectacular (Monkey Shoulder, redcurrant syrup, lemon juice, Amontillado sherry, Champagne) served with blackberry jam on a dehydrated cracker

Drinkmanila.com is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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