The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Kester Blake’s Rose Label

Kester Blake represented Trinidad & Tobago at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Tao restaurant is a leading venue for East Asian food in Trinidad, having begun life as a sushi catering company before laying down permanent roots in a hospitable residential area of Port of Spain. Focused on Japanese dishes and deliciously fresh Caribbean fish, it also introduces elements of Thai and local cuisines, which is reflected in the newly refurbished interior. Kobe lounge bar is cosseted away at the back of the restaurant, and is the space to head to for superb cocktails, that temper classics with island produce. Some feature shado beni, a tropical herb traditionally used to season meats, but used here to add a great fragrance to drinks, or the Trinidadian rose buds featured below.

The Bartender

Kester Blake, 32, is bar manager at Tao and creates his drinks in Kobe lounge. Kester became interested in bartending while studying at the Trinidad & Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute: ‘it turned into a passion which I now love – interacting with guests and entertaining them is great fun.’ Kester cut his teeth in mixology at Club Zen the island’s preeminent nightlife temple, which rose like a phoenix behind the façade of an Art Deco picture palace. He gained further experience working on cruise ships and lists ‘the modern mixologist’ Tony Abou-Gamin and ‘the maestro’ Salvatore Calabrese as bartenders he most admires.

The Drink

Rose Label matches the rich, smoky notes of Johnnie Walker Blue Label with green tea, citrus, flower heads and spice. It uses a homemade green tea infusion infused with locally picked rosebuds. ‘I spray orange bitters into the glass,’ explains Kester, ‘because the citrus works really well with the smokiness of Blue Label.’ The cocktail is based on an Old Fashioned and modifies it in a more richly fragrant direction.

The Technique

Johnnie Walker Blue Label • 45ml
Rose green tea • 60ml
Fresh Lime juice • 15ml
Cinnamon-flavour Agave syrup • 60ml
Orange bitters (to spray)
Contains 15 grams of alcohol per serve

Brew the green tea and allow to infuse with rosebuds. When cool, shake together the first four ingredients. Spray a rocks glass with orange bitters. Add ice to the glass and then pour in the cocktail. Garnish with citrus zest.

This a drink best enjoyed after light fish dishes, and the delicious sushi at Tao is just the thing; an exquisite Rose Label from Kester in the Kobe lounge bar and you are all set for a perfect ‘Carib-Asian’ evening.

Images by Anthony Moore

Kester’s Insider’s Guide to Trinidad

Place to eat

Place to relax
Maracas Beach

Place to lounge
Woodford Café

Place to Dance
Shaker’s Bar

Place to shop
The Falls at West Mall

Place to visit
Pitch Lake

Place to see
Trinidad Carnival