A Liquid City Guide for Singapore
How about a liquid city guide? These three bars add the “Lion City” into the glass with their local approach. Singapore is currently one of the most exciting destinations for cocktail & food enthusiasts. Excellent bars meet Michelin-starred street food. A city of superlatives.
This city and island state is a melting pot of cultures, spices and tastes. Young, dynamic and extremely clean. Locals as well as guests attach importance to quality. The bar scene has been booming for years. In addition to the legendary bar cities of London and New York, classic as well as experimental bar concepts are now among “The World’s 50 Best Bars”. Singapore has one of the most progressive bar scenes in the world. It is closely interlinked, cosmopolitan and environmentally conscious. The wide range of nationalities has led to increased creativity. Join me on a sip through the history, flora & fauna and spirits world of Singapore.
Origin Bar pays tribute to Singapore’s neighbourhoods with exquisite cocktails
How about a liquid city guide through the districts of Singapore? Walk into the Origin Bar of the Shangri-La Hotel. Dark blue walls and imposing ceiling arches separate the seating area from the lavishly stocked back bar. Upon closer look, it is noticeable that the bar resembles a ticket counter and the seating area of a waiting room. Inspired by an old railway station in the style of the colonial era the travel theme is a recurring element. So the cocktail list features drinks inspired by Singapore’s five most important districts: Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay. The Origin Bar concept revolves around a journey of discovery of Singapore’s five most essential districts, and each cocktail reflects the typical flavours and colours of the districts. I spoke to Adam Bursik, a native Slovak and Bar Manager of Origin. Three years ago, he came to Singapore to explore the world of Asian flavours and colours.
The abundance of fresh and mature products, the variety of spices and the history of Singapore are united in the beverage menu “Discovery, Craftsmanship, Journey”. Discovery, craftsmanship and travel, this is what Bursik and his team have captured in the glass.
All aboard? It’s time to order a drink. Riding the trend wave of healthier drinking, there are alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails per district. A surprisingly balanced relationship. We start with the namesake of the bar. “Origin” is a balanced, slightly peppery mixture of gin, infused with grilled pineapple, sugar cane, lime wine, nutmeg and pepper. The cocktail from the category Orchard Road refers to its plantations, where nutmeg and pepper were once grown.
I couldn’t miss the Milk Punch from the Little India district. The Ma-Sa-La Cocktail combines Masala spice, Single Malt Whisky, Gin, and lemon and is then clarified with milk. The result is served crystal clear. The perfect blend of hip manufacturing and traditional Indian taste experience. It’s hard to imagine a drink that’s equal parts Indian spiciness and citrusy sour, but they have captured it perfectly. In addition to the excellent drinks, Origins Rum Selection, with over 350 bottles from almost 40 countries and rare limited-edition rums, is one of the largest in the region today. For little appetites classic bar food is served, and at the weekend your ears are treated well by live music.
Nutmeg & Clove highlights Singapore’s flora & fauna in liquid form
Nutmeg & Clove is located on the first floor of a building that used to be a traditional Chinese doctor’s office. The medicine cabinets have remained, but instead of tinctures, cocktails are now mixed. The interior features dark wood panelling, antique furniture and colourful elements. Stylish and traditional at the same time.
The concept of Nutmeg & Clove’s beverage menu is rooted in the flora and fauna of Singapore. The collection of natural history drawings by William Farquhar, the first British resident and commander of colonial Singapore, served as inspiration.
A cocktail menu that uses local ingredients and inspiration? Sounds familiar. Adam Bursik, bar manager at Origin Bar, previously worked here. The menu is divided into six sections: fruit, flora, fauna, herbs, spices and vegetables & nuts. Each creation is a tribute to a classic cocktail. One that should not be missed under any circumstances is the “Slinging Lion”. An imaginative twist on the “Singapore Sling”, widely regarded as Singapore’s national drink. The barrel-aged mix consists of pineapple-infused gin, Cointreau, Benedictine, and Cherry Heering. The mixture is rounded off with hibiscus, a plant typical of Singapore that adorns balconies and gardens. Served in a porcelain cup, the “Slinging Lion” will be flambéed as a crowning finish in front of the guest with a decent portion of green Chartreuse. The friendly bar team serves small bar food appetisers for the drinks.
Native celebrates craft spirits from Asia with unusual cocktail creations
The name says it all. Regional spirits, exceptional concoctions, fair trade and sustainability are the ideals of the bar. “Through the many expats in Singapore, many nationalities are represented. There are numerous concepts, but none have been highlighted local products,” says Native founder Vijay Mudaliar. It has been possible to discover the alcoholic world of Asia at Native since 2016. Whether Indian, Taiwanese whisky, Japanese rum or brandy from Goa, the selection is constantly growing.
Dark steps lead into the bar. Exposed bricks, wood and stone are combined to create a relaxed and warm atmosphere. From the graffiti in the stairwell to furnishings, vessels, candles, aprons and music, everything comes from local artists and craftsmen. Environmental awareness and waste prevention is everyday life at Native. There is no plastic, citrus fruits are not used and dried leaves serve as coasters.
Rotation evaporators, fermentation and especially foraging are used as modern cocktail techniques. Similar to the “Nose to Tail” exploitation, the motto is “From garden to glass”. Even the ants from the garden will find their way into a drink. Inspired by a dish by top Brazilian chef Alex Atala, who likes to season his dishes with insects, the signature drink “Antz” is bravely served with ants. Attentive and charming, the bartenders accompany their guests through the evening.
The unusual ingredients and the unknown spirits require a further explanation. Storytelling and communication between guest and mixologist are an essential part of the service. “No matter how full it is. Every visitor gets an explanation of their drink,” the bartender explained.
My first drink of choice was the Peranakan. An Indian rum infused with galangal, laksa leaves, tamarind, pandan, candlenut and gula Melaka is added into a local high-quality goat’s milk. Jackfruit is used for the clarification process and the remaining curds are used to create a jelly with coconut, pandan and blue pea flowers. The seat height was very comfortable, so I also tried the Oyers from Ubin and Concrete Jungle as well as some delicious samples provided by the lovely bar-team. A remarkable concept without compromise. There are no classics served, these you can drink in any other bar. Native serves contemporary craft cocktails and an authentic local drinking experience.