Cream of the Crop
Pailin Sajjanit of Vesper and Il Fumo was the star of the regional finals at the Diageo World Class bartender competition.
Thailand was the big winner at the Southeast Asia finals of the Diageo World Class bartender competition in Bali a few days ago. The Thai representatives won the award for Best Bar Team and Pailin (Milk) Sajjanit, group bar manager for Vesper and Il Fumo, won the local flavours challenge as well as being dubbed Bartender of The Year. Milk is just 28 years old and, having begun her career in hospitality management, has only been mixing drinks professionally for four years.
Congratulations, Milk! How do you feel?
It still hasn’t properly sunk in. When I got to the regional final, I was really pleased and I seriously never imagined I’d win anything. It’s just a dream. And Thailand got the team award too. Now I’m starting to get nervous about the world finals in Miami and that’s not until September.
Tell us about the drink you concocted for the event.
We had to combine local ingredients with Ketel One vodka, so I added sweet jasmine rice and coconut oil cold infused with osmanthus flowers.
That’s as local as it gets. And you’re the first Thai to win the award.
Yes, and the first woman. I think I might be the youngest as well, I’m not sure.
And possibly the smallest. Talking of which, how does someone as tiny as you stay sober?
I just take tiny sips, five millilitres at most, to check the balance of what I’m making. I’m lucky, I’ve got pretty good taste buds. It’s just something I was born with, the way some people have a good ear for music. And I drink lots of water too.
Good advice. But if we’re doing a bit more than tiny sips, what would you recommend for us this month?
I like the Royal Sour, which I created for Il Fumo. It’s got sesame oil in it and a slightly salty taste, which works in this humid weather. Or of course, stick with an absolute classic—a gin and tonic.
One Man’s Mission