What do you get when you combine beef stock, chili sauce, coriander and vodka?
The answer is a cocktail that earned its creator a gold medal and recognition from a panel of experts.
NZMA hospitality students and Flat Bush residents in south Auckland, Jackie Nguyen?, 27, and Michael Lai, 22, both won gold at the recent NZChefs National Salon.
Described as New Zealand's largest hospitality competition, the annual event sees tertiary students and industry professionals battle it out for medals and titles in a range of cookery and front-of-house categories.
Nguyen, who's originally from Vietnam, won a gold medal in the innovative cocktail training class.
His drink is called 'The Streets of Da Nang' and is named for his hometown.
It's inspired by his favourite meal, a spicy beef noodle dish, which he used to eat every morning at his aunt's shop, he says.
"She cooks very well with that kind of flavour and food."
Lai, from Malaysia, won gold in the classic cocktail training class, which asks competitors to perfect old-time favourites.
He made a daiquiri and a drink known as an 'old fashioned' cocktail.
The ingredients in Nguyen's winning cocktail include beef stock, chilli sauce, coriander, lemongrass, kaffir lime, fish sauce bitters, grapefruit, lime, vodka and cream sherry.
He says it took six or seven attempts to perfect the balance between the four elements of sweet, spicy, sour and bitter.
"We had to try to get these flavours right and it was hard to mix the beef stock with herbs like lemongrass and kaffir limes.
"The last thing is we had to make it smoke inside so it looks like my hometown.
"Every morning in Da Nang you would see smog around the city. The smoke gives it [the drink] more flavour.
"I thought 'why not put this flavour inside my cocktail, so let's see how we can do that'."
Nguyen says he's thrilled with the reaction his creation received from the competition's judges.
"This drink has quite weird ingredients and not a lot of people would think to make it.
"One of the judges said … it's really unbelievable that you can put everything in it, even beef stock, and make it a cocktail."