5 Watering Places To Check Out This Month

From natural wines to ultra-rare cognacs, Singapore’s latest bar experiences offer tantalising new ways to imbibe.

5 Watering Places To Check Out This Month
Cocktails at the new Republic BarImage: Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

01 | Republic Bar

Not many cocktail bars prominently feature former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, but Republic Bar isn’t just your garden-variety watering hole. For starters, Republic Bar is part of the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore’s beautifully reinvented new East Wing. It debuted together with the Tony Chi-designed bookshelf-lined Library Reception and a blue herringbone fabric-clad lounge, where guests can enjoy refined five-tier afternoon teas, a la carte dining, or light bites from four gleaming, patisserie-filled vitrines.

But the star of the show is undoubtedly Republic Bar, with its rich, dark-toned wood bar mixing up a new cocktail menu built on pivotal, era-defining moments in the 60s in Singapore, the US, UK and Italy.

For example, Timeless Beauty ($25) — with its Monkey Shoulder whisky, tropical cordial, pineapple juice, Earl Grey tea and touch of dairy — captures the timeless exoticism of the Singapore Girl’s sarong kebaya, which made its mid-air debut in 1968. And Mini Skirt ($25) pays tribute to the radical fashion item popularised by designer Mary Quant, embodied in a suitably punchy blend of T&T Vodka, Pimm’s No 1, Limoncello and  Cranberry Pineapple Cordial.

In addition to the main bar, Republic also features six decadent “Home Bars”, handcrafted red Venetian glass alcoves displaying rare vintage spirits. These can be mixed into a decadent cocktail or two upon request: the 1960 Lamb’s Demerara Navy Rum, for instance, can create a very special Old Fashioned ($125) with the artful addition of housemade syrup and aromatic bitters.

Mother’s Day 2021 – The Rose Veranda.Image: Shangri-La Hotel

02 | The Nyetimber High Tea Experience at Shangri-La Singapore

While high tea actually originated among Britain’s working classes, in Singapore it’s become conflated with the elegant, rarefied ritual known as afternoon tea. But as the new Nyetimber High Tea experience at Shangri-La Singapore illustrates, why bother splitting hairs when there’s delicious food and drink to be had?

Available only in May, this high tea experience is an ode to all things British. Nyetimber was the first producer of English sparkling wine to exclusively grow the three celebrated grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay and is regarded as England’s finest sparkling wine. (Just ask Will and Kate, who served it at their wedding.)

A tasting flight, featuring Nyetimber Classic Cuvee, Nyetimber Brut Rosé, and Nyetimber Cuvee Chérie Demi-Sec, allows guests to sample a range of Nyetimber wines, and is available for $58++ for three glasses.

We recommend enjoying these over a luscious high tea served at Shangri-La’s iconic Rose Veranda, which has been decked out with an English garden’s worth of flowers for the occasion. The three-course Nyetimber High Tea experience ($78++ per set) is perfect for two diners. It includes a selection of refined sandwiches (such as strawberry lobster slaw and foie gras tart), a main course (like poached salmon roulade and seared king prawns) and finally, a lavish three-tier array of French pastries and signature Rose Veranda scones and jam. A choice of over 30 premium tea types are also available.

Alternately, head to Shangri-La’s Lobby Lounge for a local twist – think sambal chicken aioli and chilli crab – on afternoon tea (from $60++ per set).

“Thanks to its sweeter nature, Nyetimber’s Cuvee Chérie pairs excellently with the local flavours served here,” says Britt Ng, Head Sommelier at Shangri-La Singapore.

8 by Bottles & Bottles at Changi Airport Terminal 3.Image: Bottles & Bottles

03 | 8 By Bottles & Bottles

Your passport may be on ice, but that doesn’t mean your palate has to be too.

Last month, homegrown wine and spirits retailer Bottles & Bottles launched 8 by Bottles & Bottles, its first drink-in concept at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3. Its location — right next to the MRT entrance — is ideal, and may explain why it was bustling on the weeknight we visited, as opposed to the crickets in the terminal’s other F&B outlets.

The man behind it is wine trade veteran Koh Chin Liang, who’s grown Bottles & Bottles into eight stores over the last seven years.

“Bottles & Bottles has always been about allowing everyone to explore different wines, spirits and, now, sake, in a comfortable manner,” says Koh, who has built his brand on a diverse, yet democratic wine offering that includes everything from accessible to premium, Old World to New World.

According to Koh, the new drink-in concept offers a bigger — yet accessible — beverage range. Customers can also bring their own food if they like, although it’s easy to find tasty options on its snack menu, which features crowd-pleasing light bites like red-wine dressed beef cubes and cheese platters.

The outlet’s dark wood shelves brim with bottles including brand-exclusives such as Taylors Wines (Wakefield), Bodegas Faustino and Hine Cognac, in addition to over 450 selections of spirits, including Kavalan Peated Malt Singapore Edition 2020 and top-shelf picks like Louis XIII. There’s also an expanded sake selection, a nod to sake’s burgeoning popularity here. Ask the friendly staff for the Junmai Daiginjyo Senshomasamune Takenisuzume from Katsuyama, previously enjoyed exclusively by the feudal lords of Sendai, Japan — you won’t be sorry.

[Update: For safety and well-being, and in compliance with government advisory, 8 by Bottles & Bottles along with other establishments located at basement 2 of Changi Airport Terminal 3 are temporarily closed.]

Louis XIII shop-in-shop at One Raffles Place.Image: The Whisky Distillery

04 | Louis XIII Cognac’s new Shop-In-Shop

Louis XIII has a long history of being enjoyed in the region, with records showing decanters of the coveted cognac shipping to Singapore as early as 1881.

Now its fans have a new temple to convene in.

The French luxury house has just opened a permanent shop-in-shop within the new The Whisky Distillery flagship at One Raffles Place, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Adorned with vermillion-red shelves and bucolic scenes of its historic vineyards in Cognac, the space is like a haut de gamme fashion atelier, albeit one filled with the widest range of Louis XIII products available in the domestic market in Southeast Asia.

These include large and rare bottles such as Louis XIII Le Jeroboam, a 3-litre crystal decanter four times the size of the Louis XIII Cognac Classic decanter and Louis XIII Le Mathusalem, a monumental 6-litre crystal decanter that with just 50 produced each year, makes for possibly the ultimate rare collector’s item.

Bon vivants without abyss-depth pockets may opt instead to acquire a decanter of The Magnum (1.5 litres) because doing so this month gets them an exclusive complimentary pairing experience at Tippling Club for two guests. Curated by chef-owner Ryan Clift, the exclusive pairing includes delectables like N25 Caviar, lobster and foie gras – suitable complements for a cognac tasting experience that is said to encompass the individual notes of up to 1,200 eaux-de-vie.

The Whisky Distillery – One Raffles Place; 1 Raffles Place #01-07; Tel: 8181 9483

Drunken Farmer takes over Common Man Stan on Stanley Street every Tuesday to Saturday from 6.00pm to 10.30pm.
Image: Drunken Farmer

05 | Drunken Farmer’s new CBD home

After several successful pop-ups, travelling natural wine bar Drunken Farmer (by the Spa Esprit Group) has packed away its suitcases and found a permanent home along vibrant Stanley Street. Half bar and half bistro, it occupies the same space as coffee purveyor, Common Man Stan, which transforms at nightfall via some nifty projections, neon signage and moody lighting.

Drunken Farmer likes its highs natural, and as such has amalgamated over 80 natural, organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed labels sourced straight from winemakers in France, Italy and Spain. Its ever-expanding list is curated by natural wine expert Eduardo Bayo, who works closely with Spa Esprit Group founder Cynthia Chua to create a rotating selection of 16 labels spanning white, red, sparkling, rose and orange wines by the glass.

You could say “minimal” is Drunken Farmer’s ethos, as it prides itself on its minimal-intervention wines and minimal-waste food. As an example of the latter, the heads and shells of the prawns used for its Blue Prawn Rolls ($22) are repurposed in an umami, briny prawn dip accompanying the jet-black Squid Ink Crackers ($13). These are perfectly paired with Champagne Fleury’s Blanc de Noirs Brut, a medium-bodied pure Pinot Noir bubbly with a persistent fruit taste and a slight salinity that — as chef Jamie Oliver might say — makes “best mates” with the prawn dip.

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