In Conversation with Celeb Mixologist & Chef Ethan Leslie Leong

#UNCOVERED – Rediscover your palate at Ethan’s FORT of Flavours

Crowned “The Best Bartender of the Year” in 1998, Ethan Leong today is better known as the Executive Director and Chief Mixologist of Maison Ikkoku. Credited also for concocting Asia’s most expensive cocktail – the “Jewel of Pangea” in 2012,  Ethan Leong has since ventured further into the realms of gastronomy with the unveiling of FORT by Maison Ikkoku at the start of 2016. Situated amidst the luscious Fort Canning Park surrounds (next to the former Singapore Pinacotheque De Paris), FORT by Maison Ikkoku is indeed a rare gem that harmonises both gastronomy and mixology.

Ethan Leslie Leong, Executive Director and Chief Mixologist of Maison Ikkoku
Ethan Leslie Leong, Executive Director and Chief Mixologist at FORT by Maison Ikkoku

A moment with Ethan Leong on the Expression of Flavours

COVERED: When and why did you decide to become a mixologist and chef? What was the inspiration behind building your career as both?

ETHAN LEONG: I started working in a culinary industry since 1991, before moving into professional bartending (mixology) years after that. In terms of taste and flavour, these 2 areas for me have always been interlinked, understanding this relationship is something that the schools don’t teach you. To stand out, one needs to always find uniqueness, yet standing true to your roots. Up till now, Mixologists still cannot cook and chefs still cannot mix  For me however, this is exactly where I am able to best express myself in my creations and stand out. Moving forward, I hope to continue educating the younger generations on understanding the relationship between culinary arts and mixology.

Ethan Leong Behind the Scenes
In the kitchen with Ethan Leong

COVERED: In 2012, you created the World’s Most Expensive Cocktail called the Jewel of Pangaea, what was the reason and inspiration behind creating that cocktail?

ETHAN LEONG: The inspiration behind this cocktail was to showcase mixology on the world stage. I also wanted to prove that cocktails can be enjoyed as a luxurious work of art and craftsmanship, concocted with rare and unique ingredients.

COVERED: Would you say, your experience as a mixologist has helped with you in the culinary arts, and vice versa?

ETHAN LEONG: Totally! To mix, to cook, it is the same, one needs to strike a balance. It is something I always preach & practice – it is The Art of Balancing. Up till now, i haven’t met any other mixologist who can cook, nor a chef who can mix. I am lucky to have started early and am also blessed with sensitive taste buds.

On FORT by Maison Ikkoku

COVERED: With the launch of FORT by Maison Ikkoku, what is the difference between Fort and the older Maison Ikkoku outlet at Kandahar Street?

ETHAN LEONG: At FORT, we showcase Craft Cocktails using FORT’s house-made distilled liqueur with fresh herbs and fruits. It is then paired with our 12 course omakase dinner sitting at only SGD $68 per pax – featuring ingredients such as Uni, Otoro, Foie Grass, Ikura, Lobster, Crabmeat, etc.

Our main bespoke bar outlet at Kandahar however, showcases a full bar with all sorts of bases for organic mixology.

The cosy yet stunning FORT by Maison Ikkoku
Inside the cosy yet stunning FORT by Maison Ikkoku

COVERED: With regards to the Omakase Menu at FORT, where do you draw inspiration from? What can we look forward to in future?

ETHAN LEONG: The omakase menu was inspired by my travel experiences; you’ll get a taste of South East Asia, Japan, Paris, Milan, Barcelona to New York – a combination of both East and West with seasonal ingredients.

Uni Omakase at FORT by Maison Ikkoku
Uni Omakase at FORT by Maison Ikkoku

COVERED: What would you say, is the inspiration behind FORT and what is the message you hope to send to your customers?

The inspiration behind FORT, would be a place that I can showcase both my passions in one space. It would be where I can serve up anything bespoke, both dinner and drinks alike. The message I want people to take away from it would be akin to a movie you have seen many times before, yet is something you would want to watch over and over again. And with each time you watch it, you take away something new.

FORT by MAISON IKKOKU is located at 5 Cox Terrace, Fort Canning, Singapore 179620

Connect with FORT by MAISON IKKOKU on Facebook here.

Aaron Tan

Lifestyle Editor and Creative Director

A media professional with extensive experience in all forms of print and online media. Trained professionally in the film and television industry, Aaron Tan has also experience in features writing for magazines. A seasoned individual in creating viral content, Aaron is now a Creative Director and Partner with Com3 Singapore and Lifestyle Editor of Covered Asia

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