An Nguyen is a drinks specialist at Ti Ora, New Zealand’s premier tea company. We spoke to him to get the down-low on his drink-mixing passion, and find out his top tips for refreshing, easy drinks at home.
How did you discover your passion for mixing drinks?
My passion developed from years working in the hospitality industry. Since I don’t have the chance to work behind the bar in my current job, I like to use my spare time to mix drinks and challenge my creativity.
What is your signature drink?
Tonic. It’s so versatile. You can make it fresh or bland, sweet or acidic, it’s got everything going for it.
What trends do you see emerging on the drinks scene?
A: Natural, fermented and low-alcohol.
What advice would you give someone who is trying to drink less alcohol without feeling they’re missing out?
Keep it interesting. Explore craft soda. Non-alcoholic drinks can be extremely complex so just make sure you mix it up.
What are some health benefits of occasionally switching cocktails for delicious non-alcoholic drinks?
You will generally just feel better. Especially if you introduce natural, fermented drinks. These are great for your gut and they’re generally low in sugar.
Do you use seasonal ingredients when mixing drinks?
100%. Seasonal ingredients are always my inspiration. I like to think about ways to preserve the seasonal ingredients too, as our ancestors would have. This way you can create interesting combinations all year round.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to work with?
Kawakawa – I love it! The Kawakawa leaf is our famous New Zealand native herb. The beauty of Kawakawa is you can find it wild in the bush!
Q: Any top tips for amateurs mixing drinks at home?
A: Use a mixing cup. Ratios are key. Start at 1:1 and then crank it up if you need. The key elements to any drink are bitterness, sweetness, acidity, visual and aroma.
What are the most important tools you use as a drink-making connoisseur?
A measuring tool so you can get the ratio right every time.
Where do you find inspiration for the content on your Instagram page?
I follow a lot of bartenders on Instagram. I like to take elements from their concepts and develop them.
What are you doing when you’re not mixing drinks?
Spending time with my family, I have two young kids.
At the end of the day, what would you pour yourself?
I like to take a moment to pause and unwind from the day with a relaxing cup of tea. I especially love the bold flavours and aromas from the New Zealand botanicals used in Ti Ora’s tea range.
What’s next? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
Just keep working with the seasons and learning as much as I can about ingredients. And creating exciting content for my Instagram account.
Thanks for your time, An!
Thank you for having me!
Check out An’s personal Instagram page @annguyennz for beautiful drinks inspiration and to see how he pursues his passion by experimenting with the unique collection of Ti Ora
teas, made in New Zealand. Meaning ‘tea of wellbeing’ in Māori, Ti Ora makes its teas with high-quality natural ingredients you can see.