Drink Up

There’s A New Liquid Diet That’s All The Rage

Coconut, pandan, aromatic laksa leaf, herbal bak kut teh and even savoury chicken rice. These are just some of the iconic local flavours popping up in cocktail bars around town.

There’s A New Liquid Diet That’s All The Rage

Anchor Image: Lantern
(Image: MO Bar)

Level 4 Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue

There’s nothing quite like a precise and flavourful cocktail to transport you to another world with just a whiff or sip. And Mo Bar’s latest cocktail menu, launched a few months ago, does exactly that. Drawing inspiration from bar manager Michele Mariotti and his team’s travels across Asia, the menu was a collaboration with the top bars and bartenders in the region to discover native herbs, spices and ingredients, and explore the reaches of their flavours in cocktails.

On the menu are 16 drinks, including four mocktails. Silk Market is a temperance tipple of Mandarin cordial, fermented honey and corn. The honey notes shine through, but add a dash of Peddlers Gin and the mandarin notes become more dominant. For a Vietnamese tropical explosion, Harvest Queen features rhum agricole from South of Hanoi combined with apple and guava in a shaken, fruity tipple, adorned with a stunning peacock printed on rice paper. The Chiang Mai-inspired Expedition celebrates coffee plantations of the region with green coffee, grapefruit and vermouth.

But it is the savoury cocktail Lantern that will no doubt be a treat for the senses. Using chilli-infused Paper Lantern Gin, cucumber syrup and topped with chicken skin, this cocktail is an inventive homage to Singapore’s iconic Hainanese chicken rice.

Mo Bar is offering its cocktails for takeaway and delivery during the circuit breaker period. Call +65 6885 3500 or email [email protected] to order.

20A Teck Lim Road

The Elephant Room might be located in the hip Keong Saik neighbourhood, right above Michelin-starred culinary powerhouse Burnt Ends, but its debut menu draws inspiration from yet another buzzy locale — Little India. Founder Yugnes Susela is an alumnus of progressive cocktail bars Tippling Club and Smoke & Mirrors, and his well-curated seven-drink cocktail menu is a succinct amalgamation of history, flavour, modernism and familiarity all at once.

Named after the famed Tekka Centre, Tekka utilises Old Monk rum, spiced palm sugar, yogurt-gel and lacto-fermented bananas, and is topped with a fancy garnish of dehydrated banana skin dotted with lime cream and chicken 65 powder. Buffalo Road is an easy pink guava G&T while the aromatic Jothi’s Flower Shop is a concoction of jasmine gin, lime, honey and sweet fennel seeds that will transport you to its namesake shop in Little India. To round off your night of libation, order up Beeda Man. This digestif of sour mango rum and caraway carries a refreshing palate of sweet, citrusy and spicy notes that resemble paan, the popular Indian after-meal mouth-refresher treat of betel leaf with areca nut.

The Elephant Room is offering its cocktails for takeaway and delivery during the circuit breaker period. Visit theelephantroom.sg to order.

Buffalo Road
(Image: The Elephant Room)

118 Telok Ayer Street

Since Bitters & Love opened seven years ago, the cocktail bar has always championed Singaporean flavours, creating tipples inspired by local food — its signature Kaya Toast is a popular menu mainstay. To celebrate its seventh anniversary recently, it introduced a new cocktail menu concept that pays homage to the root of its name: bitters.

Traditionally, bitters is a botanicals-flavoured alcoholic preparation with bitter, sour or bittersweet notes. Its intense concentration means only a few drops or dashes are used to round out concoctions. For its new menu, Bitters & Love has launched a line of homemade bitters that draws inspiration from Singapore’s food heritage with local flavours such as Bak Kut Teh Bitters, Satay Peanut Bitters and Rojak Ginger Flower Bitters.

The ginger flower bitters makes an appearance in the elegant Under The Flower, which also comprises turmeric-infused tequila, agave syrup, lime juice and green chartreuse. Made using Irish whisky, lime, coriander and cumin syrup and peanut bitters, Smoked Satay Solo is a dramatic smoke show of a tipple, served with wood chips smoke and a skewered beef jerky. For a herbaceous, spicy and savoury cocktail, order up Makan at Midnight, where basil-infused gin, chilli- infused Aperol, lime, sugar, Bak Kut Teh bitters and kaffir lime leaf garnish make for a suitable segue into supper.

Bitters & Love is offering its cocktails for takeaway and delivery during the circuit breaker period. Visit bittersandlove.com to order.

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Tiki series — featuring watermelon! Customised cocktails with a fresh out the fruit treat #tiki #weekends #cocktaildelivery

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20 Kandahar Street

Everyone knows the Singapore Sling, but how many of us would actually order it? (Let’s be honest: it’s bright red, cloyingly sweet and has fruit as a garnish). Here’s where Sling comes in. Taking over the lower floor of the long-running bespoke cocktail bar Maison Ikkoku, Sling pays homage to this unofficial national cocktail first invented in the early 20th century. Using all-natural craft ingredients from the region, founder Ethan Leslie Leong has curated five distinctive interpretations of the iconic cocktail that will surely please the modern palate.

Start with Original Sling, which is crafted with classic London Dry Gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine DOM, Cointreau, Angostura Bitters, homemade fresh grenadine with fresh pineapple and lemon foam. Then move on to 1819 Sling, a nod to Sir Stamford Raffles’ interest in botany; Giffard Premium Caribbean Pineapple Liquer adds sweet and subtle vanilla notes that are balanced by delicate hints of cinnamon, peppery spice and citrus. Harking back to a time when coconut plantations dotted the island, Coco Sling is served in a roasted young coconut with a touch of coconut foam. Inspired by Singapore’s independence in 1965, Majulah Sling sees the incorporation of Campari for a bittersweet edge. Finally, Sling-a-pu-ra symbolises the amalgamation of the country’s tropical bounty, with passion fruit, fresh pandan, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir and calamansi coming together to form a refreshingly fruity and well-balanced cocktail.

Sling is offering its cocktails for takeaway and delivery during the circuit breaker period. Visit ethanleslieleong.com to order.

10 Haji Lane

Occupying the second floor of a shophouse unit on Haji Lane, Oriental Elixir is a charming oasis away from the hustle and bustle of this touristy neighbourhood. Thankfully, the bespoke cocktails here are well worth seeking the place out. From the same folks behind The Spiffy Dapper, Oriental Elixir is a collaboration with local distiller Tanglin Gin and originally started out as a creative research and development outlet. The team here explores and pays homage to Singapore’s (and the region’s) melting pot of cultures and flavours in a casual manner, sans high-tech rotovaps or theatrical liquid nitrogen.

With an apothecary of concoctions featuring homemade amaros, bitters and infusions, Oriental Elixir prides itself on never making the same drink twice — at least for the same customer. Expect your tipple to feature such flavours as goreng pisang, beef jerky or laksa leaf-infused gin, bak kut teh cordials, mala or pani puri syrup. The inspired flavours here are not the only things inspired by local market finds. Drinkware, knick-knacks and much of the furniture were scored from the old Sungei Road flea market, rendering Oriental Elixir a sensorial museum of local curiosities.

This story first appeared in the April 2020 issue of A Magazine.