The cocktail scene in Malaysia has been steadily growing over the past few years, and it has also seen the rise of some outstanding bartending talents.

Among these rising bartenders is David Hans (pic), who did Malaysia proud by becoming the world champion of the Giffard West Cup in June.

Founded in 1885, Giffard is a major beverage company based in Angers, France that specialises in premium liqueurs and syrups.

The company has been organising the Giffard West Cup since 1997, and this year’s edition was only the second time it was opened to Asian bartenders, with Malaysia making its debut.

Hans, 28, has been bartending for seven years now.

“When I heard that the Giffard West Cup was coming to Malaysia for the first time, I saw it as a chance to challenge myself and see how far I could go,” he said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

Hans won the Malaysian leg of the Giffard West Cup in March this year, then clinched the regional title in Bangkok in April.

The global final in Giffard’s headquarters in Angers saw 18 bartenders from 16 countries competing, with Hans and Singaporean bartender Chrystine Lee as the only Asians among them.

How David Hans wowed the judges

The competition consisted of three rounds.

In the first round, each contestant had to recreate their signature winning cocktails from the previous regional rounds.  From there, 10 bartenders were selected for the next round, where they had to make a drink using the Giffard Premium range.

It was in this round that Hans really impressed the judges with a cocktail called Dynasty Poem.

David Hans

The Dynasty Poem cocktail, which uses Chinese tea, was Hans’ attempt to introduce the Giffard West Cup judges to more Asian flavours.

“Since this is only the second time that Asia is taking part, I decided to highlight some Asian flavours in my cocktails,” he said. “I used Chinese tea with Giffard Premium Apricot and Giffard Passion Fruit. I was a bit worried at first that the judges wouldn’t be used to the flavour.”

In fact, the judges liked his drink so much that they voted him into the Top 3 alongside Lee and Sam Treadway from the United States.

The final challenge was a Black Box challenge, in which the contestants draw a mystery ingredient, and use it to make a drink in tribute to Giffard founder Emile Giffard.

“It was the last challenge, so I wanted to go all the way. I even wore a lab coat for the challenge, because Giffard’s founder was a pharmacist!” he recalled.

Hans created something called the Angers Potion. “The Angers Potion is like a twist on the gin and tonic, but using the Caribbean Pineapple and Menthe Pastille. I wanted a very tropical kind of drink to reflect where I am from.”

David Hans

The Angers Potion, Hans winning cocktail at the Giffard West Cup global finals.

Even after the final challenge, Hans did not expect to win. “We thought Sam would win, because he is so experienced and his showmanship was great,” he recalled. “So when they announced my name, I almost cried!”

Along with a trophy, Hans also won the title of Giffard Global Ambassador. He currently travels around the world promoting the brand.

“For me, the most important thing about the competition was not winning, but the experience. It was such a great journey, meeting new friends, learning new skills, and experiencing bartending outside of Malaysia,” he said.