Sweetness Masks Bitterness: Young Troubles of Nguyen Duy Tri’s Acid Madness 2023

Imagine a carnival funhouse mirrored in a cocktail shaker, where sugary swirls hide labyrinthine anxieties and laughter echoes with underlying shadows. This is the kaleidoscopic realm of Acid Madness, the brainchild of Vietnamese mixologist Nguyen Duy Tri, a competition that transcends the realm of mere mixology, transforming into a playground where bartenders explore the complexities of youth through the prism of flavor. In 2023, the theme Young Troubles took center stage, inviting creators to delve into the bittersweet joys and sorrows of adolescence, crafting libations that were as playful as they were poignant.

Young Troubles: The Masks of Bittersweet Youth

Young Troubles wasn’t just about celebrating carefree revelry; it was about acknowledging the anxieties, insecurities, and uncertainties that simmer beneath the surface of youthful exuberance. Bartenders embraced the contradictions of adolescence, weaving narratives of first love and heartbreak, dreams chased and disillusionment faced, all within the confines of playful, vibrant cocktails. Each sip became a bittersweet odyssey, inviting us to revisit the emotional highs and lows of our own journeys through youth.

Top Contenders and Their Bittersweet Masterpieces

Let’s raise a glass (perhaps a whimsical chalice crafted from spun sugar) to some of the visionary mixologists who left us pondering with their Young Troubles masterpieces:

The Playground Paradox by Maya Petrova (Russia): This whimsical concoction combined cotton candy-infused vodka with a touch of lime and edible tears, a playful yet poignant metaphor for the joy and fragility of childhood friendships.

Teenage Riot by Hiroki Tanaka (Japan): Inspired by youthful rebellion, this fiery cocktail featured chili-infused tequila, yuzu, and edible sparks, capturing the bittersweet heat of adolescent defiance and self-discovery.

First Crush, Last Kiss by Elena Lopez (Argentina): A delicate interplay of floral sweetness and smoky depth, this gin-based creation evoked the intoxicating innocence of first love and the lingering pang of its inevitable end.

A Forage for Youthful Delights: Unearthing Unexpected Ingredients

Young Troubles wasn’t just about candy floss and soda pops; it was about pushing the boundaries of sweetness with unexpected ingredients. From playful herbs that evoked childhood memories to nostalgic candies infused with unexpected liquors, bartenders embraced the diverse palette of youth, transforming it into a vibrant tapestry of flavor.

The Art of Bittersweet Harmony: Balancing the Emotional Spectrum

The true genius of Young Troubles lay in its masterful orchestration of sweetness and acidity, joy and sorrow. Sugary notes masked underlying tartness, playful garnishes hinted at hidden anxieties, and effervescent textures contrasted with lingering bitterness. Each sip was a multi-sensory experience, inviting the drinker to navigate the emotional turbulence of youth with every drop.

Beyond the Competition: Young Troubles as a Catalyst for Exploration

The impact of Young Troubles extends far beyond the competition itself. It serves as an invitation for introspection, urging bartenders and patrons alike to delve into the unspoken anxieties and complexities of youth. This spirit of emotional exploration has led to a global resurgence of interest in crafting cocktails that tap into personal narratives and evoke nostalgic memories, pushing the boundaries of storytelling through the art of mixology.

Craft Your Own Young Troubles: Tips for Brewing Bittersweet Delights

Even if you weren’t fortunate enough to witness Young Troubles firsthand, you can still capture its essence in your own home bar. Here are some tips to get you started on your youthful mixology journey:

Embrace the contradictions: Don’t shy away from contrasting flavors and textures. Playful sweetness can juxtapose with bitter notes, vibrant colors can hide a layer of melancholy.

Source nostalgic ingredients: Explore specialty stores for childhood candies, nostalgic herbs, and unique flavors that evoke memories of your own youth.

Presentation is key: Use playful glassware, whimsical garnishes, and even interactive elements to create a multi-sensory experience that reflects the complexities of growing up.

Don’t shy away from personal narratives: Infuse your creations with stories of your own youthful experiences, allowing your drinks to become emotional touchstones for both you and your guests.


Young Troubles at Acid Madness 2023 wasn’t just a competition; it was a bittersweet tapestry woven into liquid art. From playful candy swirls masking hidden anxieties to the effervescent fizz of first love contrasting with the lingering sting of heartbreak, each sip was a journey through the kaleidoscope of youthful emotions. Bartenders, through their ingenious creations, reminded us that youth is a paradox, a vibrant dance between laughter and tears, dreams and disillusionment. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or simply a dreamer revisiting the bittersweet playground of your own past, Young Troubles leaves you with a question: how will you capture the complexities of youth in your next libation? Let this competition be a springboard for your own emotional alchemy, a reminder that a well-crafted cocktail can evoke nostalgia, spark introspection, and celebrate the bittersweet beauty of growing up, one delicious drop at a time. So raise a glass (perhaps adorned with a single teardrop of spun sugar) to Nguyen Duy Tri’s Young Troubles, a legacy of bittersweet brilliance that echoes on long after the last playful fizz fades.


1. Where can I find the recipes for the top contenders’ cocktails?

Unfortunately, the recipes for the competition-winning cocktails are often kept secret by the bartenders to preserve the element of surprise for future competitions. However, some of the bartenders might share variations or adaptations of their creations on their social media pages or personal websites. You can also try searching online for similar recipes inspired by the ingredients and flavor profiles mentioned in this blog post.

2. How can I get involved in future Acid Madness competitions?

If you’re a bartender with a passion for crafting emotionally-charged cocktails, you can follow Acid Madness on social media for updates and announcements about future competitions. They usually open for submissions several months in advance, so keep an eye out and be ready to showcase your most flavorful explorations of youth!

3. Can I recreate Young Troubles-inspired cocktails at home?

Absolutely! This blog post provides several tips for crafting your own bittersweet delights. Remember to embrace contradictions, source nostalgic ingredients, let your presentation reflect the emotional complexities of youth, and don’t shy away from infusing your creations with personal narratives. You can also search online for recipes inspired by the competition or get creative with your own unique combinations.

4. Do I need any special equipment to make Young Troubles-inspired cocktails?

While having professional bar tools can make things easier, you can actually create delicious youthful libations with basic equipment like a shaker, strainer, muddler, measuring cups, and a citrus juicer. The most important ingredients are a willingness to experiment, a sense of playfulness, and a heart open to exploring the complexities of your own young memories.

5. Where can I learn more about using mixology to explore emotional narratives?

Beyond this blog post, there are many resources available for learning more about using mixology to explore emotional narratives. You can join online communities focused on creative mixology, follow bartenders and events that delve into the intersection of cocktails and storytelling, and even take workshops or courses that explore the use of flavor and presentation to evoke emotions. Remember, a well-crafted cocktail can be more than just a drink; it can be a catalyst for self-reflection, connection, and emotional exploration. So raise your glass and let your mixology become a window into the soul, both yours and your guests’.

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