Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A hyper-local approach in super-luxe surrounds
Debuting on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list this year, Bar Trigona marries the glamorous surrounds of its home – Four Seasons Hotels Kuala Lumpur – with a hyper-local approach that celebrates Malaysian ingredients and small producers. It is this winning combination of style and substance, paired with a selection of superb drinks, which has helped it win the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2019. This award is given to the bar that achieves the highest sustainability rating of those in the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list that take part in an audit completed by Food Made Good.
While on a trip through Malaysia sourcing ingredients for the bar, head bartender Ashish Sharma and his team stumbled across a small honey farm in Negeri Sembilan, an hour outside Kuala Lumpur. The farm specialised in the conservation and honey production of the trigona a bee, a rare insect indigenous to South East Asia which creates a sweet and sour honey that works brilliantly in cocktails. So delicious was the nectar, they decided to brand the bar after the bee: Bar Trigona was born.
The vast majority of the ingredients used at Bar Trigona are sourced within Malaysia from small, local farmers. In order to raise awareness of Malaysian ingredients and producers, the bar organises trips for bartenders and customers to visit the farm, and a trigona bee hive is on display at the bar in a halved chunk of tree.
The menu is divided in four sections celebrating four facets of natural produce: fruit; leaf and flower; stem and seed; and root. Sharma and his team believe that using all parts of the ingredient is essential, and everything – from husks to stalks and shells – finds a use at the bar. The signature drink features rye whiskey, cynar, trigona honey, cedarwood and bitters for a Malaysian take on an Old Fashioned.
The ‘root to shoot’ approach is also applied to the food menu, which incorporates daily specials allowing the bar to repurpose ingredients that would otherwise be wasted – such as the Ikan Goreng, featuring crispy fish skin, spiced sea salt and dry laksa sauce.
Free of any single-use plastic straws, sachets, coasters and cocktail napkins, Bar Trigona makes a genuine effort to minimise waste by providing specific staff training and limiting supplier packaging. The team is also encouraged to work with the local community and charity groups, with a policy in place to ensure that staff doesn’t work over contracted hours to ensure a fair work-life balance.
The Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award was introduced to Asia’s 50 Best Bars for the first time in 2018. Potato Head Beach Club in Bali, Indonesia, was the inaugural winner. The sustainability rating of each bar is assessed by Food Made Good Global through a system specially adapted from their restaurant rating, which has been used to assess sustainability for 10 years. All bars on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list are invited to enter the award via self-nomination.