Hotel bars don’t tend to be exciting, but the relatively new and hidden Anti:Dote at Fairmont Singapore may surprise you. Anti:Dote earlier this year replaced jazzy lounge lizard dive Ink Bar in the lobby of the hotel, and combines a mixology cocktail bar with a proper open kitchen modern tapas concept for a welcome respite right smack in the middle of the city.
Anti:Dote has a rather compact but solid drinks menu that ranges from cocktails to tonics in a bar helmed by head craftsman Tom Hogan, one of the brighter mixology talents in Singapore. Hogan’s creations, from the Corpse Reviver ($23) to a herb-infused Tonic #1 ($19), show off his creativity, while the ability to churn out a most excellent Old Fashioned displays his strong grasp of the basics. Hogan, formerly of Bernard’s Bar at Chicago’s Waldorf Astoria, enjoys experimentation and likes to create drinks with housemade bitters, tinctures and flavoured liqueurs, bringing different elements together into an artfully balanced cocktail.
As for food, Anti:Dote actually boasts an experienced and properly trained chef helming its kitchen in Barcelona-born head chef Carlos Montobbio. The Hofmann School trained chef is regularly seen at the open air kitchen personally putting together some of his pretty amazing modern tapas to pair with your tipple. Try especially the innovative Crisp Parmesan Pizza ($12), a crispy, fall-apart cheese-based cracker atop which sits powdered tomato and cheese, basil cress pesto and olive oil caviar (essentially gellified high quality Spanish olive oil), or the decadent Black Truffle Bao ($20), with the fluffy bun wrapped around braised veal cheek, foie gras and shallots that’s been caramelized in Madeira sherry.
But the best food-and-drink pairing you can find at Anti:Dote is actually the dual bar and kitchen mastery offered by both the affable Tom Hogan and the more introverted Carlos Montobbio. Both Hogan and Montobbio understand how flavours work, and Hogan is able to effortlessly recommend drink pairings for items on the menu. It’s not beneath Hogan to recommend a Triple Karmeliet beer to pair with a particular dish, for example, which shows how – unlike some other more self-absorbed bartenders – he’s more interested in making a pairing work than showing off his own mixology expertise.
And that’s a good thing.
Anti:Dote is at Level 1 Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Rd.