Jun 4, 2019
From saucy to wacky, cleverly concocted cocktails are bringing kitchen techniques behind the bar. Grace Ma filters and distills Singapore’s tastiest new tipples.
These days, it’s hard to distinguish between a bar and a chem lab. Move over infusing: techniques such as fat washing, milk washing and smoking are increasingly common to imbue drinks with more layered profiles. Rotary evaporators have practically become standard equipment—even though they cost anywhere between S$8,000 and S$20,000. Bartender- owner Kamil Foltan of IB HQ, for one, only broke even on the price of his rotavap, including staff, utility and ingredient costs, after about 1,500 drinks. But, we assure you, his next-level innovations are worth it. With more mad scientists investing in toys like bee smokers and sonic wave machines, now is the best time to have your drink and eat it, too.
JAM AT SIRI HOUSE
Sour-cream potato chips, sesame oil and burnt butter are just some of the homey ingredients lending their whiffs to the cocktail list of JAM restaurant and bar in chichi Dempsey’s lifestyle space Siri House. Head bartender Kavinn Raaj recreates a refined yet fun home-dining atmosphere with delish food-and-drinks combos such as the Spudni, a blend of gin and house-made sour-cream liqueur—the latter a mix of vodka, sour cream and sugar—that is topped with three wee cubes of onion chutney jelly balancing on a rice crisp. sirihouse.com.sg; cocktails from S$15.
Industry veteran Kamil Foltan and his wife Zurina Bryant run this lab-bar on the upper floor of a shophouse, spinning odd, local ingredients such as curry leaves, bananas and jackfruits into brilliantly balanced drinks that leave a lingering, often unforgettable, aftertaste. Go sweet-and-spicy with the Maharaja, or be a daredevil with the Pi Pa, which was inspired by cold parsnip-and-pineapple soup. Their house-made bottled cordials are available for purchase, too. ibhqsingapore.com; cocktails from S$24.
Border-jumping tipples and nibbles with an Oriental twist is the mission statement from Italian-Filipino mixologist eye-candy Davide Boncimino. Shoot for the unorthodox (Not) Classic PBJ concocted from peanut butter fat–washed Glenfiddich whisky and caramelized kumquat liqueur, which comes with a bamboo tray of three smoked chocolate-coated macadamia nuts and chili puree. madamefan.sg; cocktails from S$22.
Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s sophisticated bar has a beguiling cocktail list inspired by the flavors and cultures in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea. Liquid treasures in bar manager Michele Mariotti’s experimental chest include a barrel-aged water and herb cognac in-house concoction called Rough Waters by the Coral Sea, topped with an edible coral garnish that is dotted with mild red- pepper sauce. In the 7,000 Leagues Ahead is the unlikely scientific mix of gin and oils from kaffir lime skin using a sonic-wave machine that results in a highly concentrated version of the light and zesty gimlet. mandarinoriental.com; cocktails from S$24.
On the 70th floor of Swissotel, The Stamford, the heights that offer killer views act as a metaphor for the theme of elevation that divides the 12-cocktail menu into the categories of sea, rainforest, high desert and alpine. Salty sips Samphire and Buckthorn Cliff change to fruity and herbal gems such as The Shaman (which has curious earthy undertones from house-made shiitake syrup) before giving way to thirst quenchers such as the Desert Rose and ending on a herbaceous high in drinks such as Rolling Stone, where rye whiskey is blended with an Austrian Amaro that has been sous-vided with fragrant wild thyme. skai.sg; cocktails from S$25.
What you see is not what you get at this rooftop bar with smashing sunset skyline views. New head bartender Jorge Conde conjures up flavor illusions such as a clear Bloody Mary and his weirdly delicious Dali’s Self Portrait, which completely befuddles your mind about the typical Manhattan, as he makes his twist on it with smoky- bacon fat, artichoke and swirls of rosemary smoke added to a vermouth and whiskey base. Come when you’re feeling particularly adventurous. smokeandmirrors.com. sg; cocktails from S$20.
Don’t let this bar’s western outskirts address nor its hidden location in the wine-and-spirits section of a supermarket deter your hunt for it. From toasted sesame seeds in honey lining the glass of a Beehive to a bee smoker sending delicate sandalwood wafts into the Rhubino cocktail with tart rhubarb notes, bar manager Anton Gornev pulls out all the stops to deliver drinks ranging from low to high ABV, depending on your mood for the night. instagram.com/bbar_sg; cocktails from S$18.
Fly high in this live-music bar decorated with golden-age-of-travel paraphernalia, including a cabinet of curiosities featuring rare and exotic spirits (go ahead, ask for a tasting shot). Bartender Andy Griffiths has a few kitchen shenanigans up his sleeve. Think sous-vide, reductions, carbonations and original syrups, all of which translate to heady blends such as the Sugarloaf, where pineapple rum, cognac, house- fermented pineapple skin tepache, tamarind, lime and palm sugar are mixed together and the final result garnished with a mini taco rolled from pineapple skin and pickled watermelon rind. Whew. idlewild.sg; cocktails from S$22.