NEGRONI WEEK: BANGKOK EDITION
Last year, we opened up Negroni Week to bars around the world, and this year—with help from our partners at Campari, international participation has soared. Bartenders from Russia to Cambodia, from Malaysia to Denmark and just about everywhere in between have joined the effort, selecting local charities and mixing up their own regionally inspired riffs on the cocktail of the moment. We checked in with a few of our farthest-flung bartenders to find out what Negroni Week looks like in their countries this year. Today, we chat with Australian ex-pat Dannie Sörum of the Lady Brett Tavern in Bangkok, who will be supporting The HIV Foundation this year.
Imbibe: How long have you been bartending?
Dannie Sörum: I started bartending in 2002 in Australia. I was still 17 and working in a deli when my older brother got a job on an island resort as a bartender and the company needed more staff. He asked if I was up for it, and naturally I didn’t back down from a chance to work in a bar. I told a little white lie that I was a year older and had some experience working in bars (though I had only ever been the dish boy). Luckily, my brother taught me some stuff so I wouldn’t look like a complete novice.
Imbibe: When did you discover the Negroni? How do you like to mix it up?
DS: I think it was a few years later, in 2004. When my friends and I got into a bit of a Campari phase—we basically started drinking the stuff none of our friends drank—and Campari particularly made an impression on us. That must have been the first time I found out about the Negroni. As to how I make them, my personal preference is simple—equal parts of everything stirred with ice, then strained over fresh ice and served with a nice slice of orange, not just the zest.
Imbibe: Are Negronis popular in Thailand? What’s Thai bar culture like in general?
DS: The quick answer is probably be no, but it is a well-recognized cocktail. Cocktail culture in general in Bangkok is still very young—it only started getting into the mainstream a few years ago. Previously the spirit importers and big name spirit conglomerates had one focus here: whiskey bottle sales. But lately there has been a renewed focus on supporting the local bartenders with competitions and education. This has helped everyone, and the smaller bars in particular are getting a lot more creative. Nowadays, there are also a lot of international influences from young entrepreneurs that studied abroad, as well as expatriates setting up shop, and that has really driven our bar culture forward. I feel that Asian bar culture in general is really picking up.
Imbibe: Tell us about your charity? What do they do and why did you pick them?
DS: We are donating the proceedings to The HIV Foundation here in Southeast Asia. There are a lot of charities out there that are in need of support but not all of them are great at handling money, and putting the donations to good use. Through a network of friends that regularly host charity events we got in touch with The HIV Foundation, and we feel that they’re going to make a great use of any funds that we’re able to give them. This, along with the fact that HIV/AIDS is a pretty big issue here in Thailand, we figured it was an important charity to support.
Imbibe: What are your hopes for the future of Negroni Week in Thailand?
DS: The Negroni is a great drink, we all know that, but it’s also fun to see what creativity can give birth to. So the more bars that get involved, the more fun it would be for everyone. It’s also a great opportunity to give, and if there are more bars involved we can all make a little bit of a difference, perhaps we can even pool our contributions to a select just a few charities and make a greater difference. It’s only the third year, so who knows what great things will happen!