I interviewed Aki Wang from Indulge Bistro located in Taipei this summer. With Indulge Bistro named one of top 5 in Asia’s 50 best bars 2017, Aki has been at the forefront of Taipei’s cocktail scenes. He specializes in tea infusion and local ingredients.
How did you get into making cocktails?
When I was 16 years old, my family went bankrupt so I needed to make a choice between continuing school or focusing on work. I decided to work so I could make money to amortize the debt. I bounced around from coffee shops, a French restaurant and night clubs until I was 18. Later, I got the opportunity to work at a famous bar in Taiwan named Wonder Bar. That’s how I got started. I’ve been in the bar industry for 23 years now and it’s something that I hold very close to me. It has changed my life.
What are some of your favorite teas?
I love all kinds of tea! For infusions, it depends on the kind of spirit that complements the aroma and taste of the tea. You need to know where it’s from and the process behind the tea you are using. With the right temperature, timing, and quantity of tea, water, or other ingredients, you can craft a wonderful infusion.
For example, green teas give the spirit a soft touch on the flavor. Black tea will go well with brown spirits aged in the barrels. I love using scented tea with herbs or flowers because they often give a lovely aromatic scent to the gin based cocktails.
What do you like about Taipei and what is your favorite bar?
The people in Taipei are very friendly. The area is also rich in resources, so I can get different ingredients from 20 different regions and mountains. That’s one of the things that gives me endless drive to find new possibilities when it comes to cocktails.
One of my favorite bars is MOD Sequel. It’s a first class Japanese whisky bar in Taipei that opened 22 years ago. Trio Cafe, a neighborhood bar opened by Taiwan’s first bartender William Wang is another favorite of mine. He’s taught us all so much about bartending in the past years. FourPlay has creative bartenders, unafraid to try new combinations, which is always admirable. And of course, Indulge Bistro.
Indulge Bistro recently underwent a series of renovations, so now the bistro is divided into 2 different bars. On the first floor named, which we call “From the Land,” we have 24 cocktails that correspond to 24 solar terms. The basement, named “To The World,” welcomes international guest bartenders to experiment with new handcrafted drinks.
Can you share some of your favorite recipes?
The Formosa Dragon Punch
- 60ml Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
- 45ml Iron Buddha’s Mercy Oolong Tea Shrub
- 8g Iron Buddha’s Mercy Tea
- 30g Champagne Vinegar
- 200g Honey
- 500ml Boiling Water
- Brewing 5 minutes
- 30ml Boiron Black Lychee Lychee Puree
- 30ml New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
Shake and strain. Pour into a coupe glass through a dragon punch bowl. This drink combines the local iconic tea (Oolong) and fruit (Lychee) to create a complex aroma with many layers.
Tipsy Tea Swin
- 45ml Beefeater 24 Gin
- 5ml orange Flower Flavored Vodka
- 90ml homemade jasmine Tea Syrup
- 20g Jasmine Tea
- 600ml boiling Water
- 5 g Corn Syrup
- 80g Simple Syrup 80 g
- Brewing 5 minutes
- 10ml homemade Ginger Lilly Flower Nectar
- 10ml Boiron bergamot puree
Shake and strain. Pour into a ceramic glass and garnish with lotus leaf and syrup drop for a classic look with a twist.
Enjoy! Aki, thanks for the opportunity to interview you.