A couple of months ago, the Hong Kong-based mixologist Sam Jeveons hosted mixology classes at Center Play and Crystal Lounge City of Dreams and served some of his signature drinks. He shared some insights about modern bartending and talked about Nusa Caña, the world’s first tropical island white rum.

“My passion has led me to train and talk about cocktails and teach the next generation, the younger kids,” says Sam. “Part of what I do is open venues, open properties, and train the staff of everything about spirits and its service,” he adds

He started in the industry when he was a university student taking Russian history, politics, and English classes. “I needed to work to earn money and I earned money in hospitality. I started working in hotel bars, some popular clubs, for three to four years. I’ve got great experience in hospitality. When I finished university I had the choice if I should pursue what I studied in academics or choose what I think was the easier route, which was the hospitality industry,” he recounts.

Sam has worked in nine countries and 23 properties around the globe training bartenders and creating cocktail menus for numerous bars. In Manila, he works with City of Dreams as a consultant for the hotel’s beverage program. During his last visit, he updated the hotel’s menu with a series of new concoctions:

The Crystal Daiquiri – secret recipe of rare and tropical rums
Blood and Sand – Jameson Irish Whisky, Macino Rosso Vermouth, Cherry Heering, Blood Orange, and Laphroaig Islay mist
Player’s Negroni – Gin, Mancino Rosso and Secco Vermouth, Cherry Heering, Aperol, Campari, and coffee beans
Dealer’s Choice – Havana Club Rum, Aperol, Blood Orange, lime, mint, and Champagne
Queen of Diamonds — “I predict that this is going to be one of our best selling drinks in City of Dreams.” It is inspired by Dick Bradsell’s Russian spring punch or what they called the Match Spring Punch during his bartending time in London. It is made with flavored Vodka, Chambord, fresh raspberry, Crème de Fraise, fresh lemon juice, top off with Champagne.
Queen of Diamonds, Dealer’s Choice, Player’s Negroni, Blood and Sand, and The Crystal Daiquiri

When asked if he calls himself a mixologist or a bartender, his response is straightforward. “I think if anyone’s got an ounce of humbleness in them they would say they are a bartender,” he says. “I think if there is a difference, a mixologist can understand all flavors and can create something off the spot and can create miracles really out of nothing or the weirdest stuff. A bartender is someone that says do you know a Cosmo, ‘Yeah, I know that recipe,’ and there you go. I’m a bartender who can do both.”

He said one of the best way to stir Negroni is to swirl the concoction on ice

He also introduced a product that he helped create, Nusa Caña—a new premium rum brand from Indonesia. The bottle sports a barong mask lion-like creature, a character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. “In Indonesia, every little village and town, have their own masks that represent their deities and they would tell their stories of their upbringing through the mask. The one on the brand is the barong of the forest, hence the king of the forest,” says Sam.

Nusa Caña

Nusa is Indonesian for island; caña is Portuguese for sugarcane. The taste is much more akin to Cachaça but less sour—it’s sweet, lightly vegetal, and approachable. It’s good for rum cocktails but we’d recommend it served neat on ice. He is still working on distributing it in the Philippines, and we can’t wait for it to be available here.

Sam worked with former Diageo executives, Marc Rodrigues, Joe Milner, and Andy Gaunt to launch an Asian spirit that would appeal to younger drinkers from all over the world. “We looked around in Asia what type of spirit would work. We looked at lambanog here, feni in India, we looked at all these unknown spirits that could impact the world stage in the future. And we found that rum is known all over the world. When we dug deep into the history, we found that we are not creating anything new. We’re actually bringing back something that existed a long time ago.”

Visit City of Dreams Manila to try Sam Jeveons’s signature drinks. The drink menu is available at CenterPlay, Crystal Lounge, Waves, and Breezes.

A publishing industry veteran who is the former creative director of PeopleAsia magazine and former lifestyle editor of The Standard newspaper. She was introduced to the wonderful world of spirits during her stint as executive creative director of digital agency DigitalFCB, where she led a team that created campaigns for some of the biggest liquor brands in the country. A lover of scotch and a curious spirit who is obsessed with the colorful world of mixology, she directs DrinkManila’s overall editorial content.

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