If you haven’t read the first part of our definitive Singapore Cocktail Week guide, you should do so first – it highlights the basics of the 8-day event, as well as our recommendations for various events to check out.
Here we delve into the other aspects of Singapore Cocktail Week that should tickle your fancy.
Guest bartending shifts.
It’s not a proper Singapore Cocktail Week if we don’t get various international bartenders flying into the little red dot to helm the sticks at various bars across the island. If there’s one thing better than visiting their bars, it’s them coming to yours. Here are some we think you should really check out:
1. Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five (Tokyo) at Nutmeg & Clove.
Legendary Japanese master bartender Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five in Tokyo’s Ginza will be presenting a workshop on Japanese cocktail culture on Wednesday 16 March at the recently relocated Nutmeg & Clove, and will follow that with a shift from 8.30pm to 11.30pm.
2. Ronnaporn Pornstar, Supawit Palm and Anakin Wonsala at Nutmeg & Clove.
Nutmeg & Clove will see Thai trio Ronnaporn Pornstar – gotta love that name – 2014 Diageo World Class champion, Global Top 10 bartender Supawit Palm and Global Top 16 and Thailand bartending guru Anakin Wonsala for its official relaunch on Monday 14 March 2016 from 8pm to 1am, as presented by Diageo World Class.
3. Alen Nikolovski of The Baxter Inn (Sydney) at Jigger & Pony.
4. Eau de Vie (Sydney) takeover at Jigger & Pony.
For just one night on Monday 14 March 2016 from 8pm to 12pm, Sydney’s famed Eau de Vie will take over Jigger & Pony when cocktail superstars Tom Egerton (pictured above) and Alissa Gabriel take to the bar alongside regional Monkey Shoulder Whisky ambassador Jay Gray and Rhyse Borland of Gibson, both Eau de Vie alumni based in Singapore. Presented by William Grant & Sons.
5. Stephane Levan of Honi Honi and Max Traverse of Mahalo (Hong Kong) at Lime House.
6. The Fairer Shake – Femme All Stars at The Flagship.
Beauty meets bourbon when six of the most acclaimed female bartenders – Beckaly Franks (The Pontiac, Hong Kong), Micaela Piccolo (B28, Seoul), Alissa Gabriel (Eau de Vie, Sydney), Jenna Hemsworth (Bad Frankie, Melbourne), and Hannah Waters (28 Hong Kong St, Singapore) – gather and shake cocktails at The Flagship on Wednesday 16 March 2016.
7. Black Pearl (Melbourne) Takeover at Smoke & Mirrors.
Bespoke cocktail rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors will be hosting Nathan Beasley, bar manager of world famous Black Pearl from Melbourne for a cocktail workshop on Wednesday 16 March 2016, and Beasley – Bartender of the Year 2015 by Time Out Melbourne – will follow that with a guest shift from 7pm to 9pm.
8. Charlie Ainsbury of This Must Be The Place (Sydney) at The Library.
Diageo World Class 2015 winner Charlie Ainsbury from Sydney’s This Must Be The Place will be hosting a cocktail masterclass on Thursday 17 March at The Library, and will follow that with a guest shift from 7pm to 11pm.
9. Paul Monahan at Sugarhall.
Sailor Jerry global brand ambassador Paul Monahan will descend on rum temple Sugarhall on Friday 18 March for a special guest shift where he’ll shake up some special rum cocktails and share the story of Sailor Jerry. Bonus: check out his tatts.
Top 10 cocktails you must try during Singapore Cocktail Week.
Suffice to say there will be hundreds of different cocktails to try around the island during Singapore Cocktail Week, and we’re not even counting those that bespoke ones that our local and international cocktail geniuses are going to conjure up for you based on mere descriptions.
But here are a few we think you could put your money down on.
1. Crystal Clear (Bar Vagabond).
Bar Vagabond bar supervisor Shahrul Ariffin’s submission for round two of the Diageo World Class competition, the Crystal Clear combines Tanqueray gin with vermouth, clarified orange juice, simple syrup and orange bitters for an exceedingly well-integrated, spirit-forward yet refreshing drink.
2. Beatrix (Jekyll & Hyde).
Another Diageo World Class competition creation, the Beatrix from Jekyll & Hyde features Tanqueray gin with beetroot, water chestnut, simple syrup and topped off with a fennel cracker. Doesn’t sound like it would work, but it does.
3. The Millionaire #5 (Bread Street Kitchen).
Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen may be better known for its food, but it runs a mighty mean bar as well. Its Millionaire #5 is concocted specially for Singapore Cocktail Week – which means you get it at $14++ – comprises of rum, gin, abricotine, pomegranate syrup, lime juice and plum bitters. It is sweet, it is strong, and it will make you feel like a million bucks.
Bonus: Ask for bartender Adonis Endozo Reyes’ Tanggero, which he created for Bacardi Legacy. He didn’t land the ultimate prize with it, but its spicy, sweet and fruity flavours are still winning in our opinion.
4. CHINATOWN BREWERY (GIBSON).
For Singapore Cocktail Week cocktail bar Gibson will be introducing a new menu, and head bartender Aki Eguchi and owner Indra Kantono has come up with a cocktail inspired by Kantono’s regular beer jaunts to Chinatown’s Smith Street Complex hawker centre. Hopped Bulleit rye whisky, fermented pineapple, passionfruit soda, lime ashes and Buddha’s hand combine to make a tropical sipper.
5. Negroni Fall (Mitzo).
Modern contemporary Chinese restaurant Mitzo may be better known as chic modern Cantonese fine dining restaurant, but within its cavernous confines hide a bar. Assistant bar manager Marco Pignotta puts traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) touches to his drinks, and he takes on the regular Negroni by using a gin infused with red dates, homemade goji berry syrup instead of simple syrup, and red vermouth. Pair it with the accompanying bitter Campari spheres to cut through its sweetness.
6. Francis Drake (Lime House).
Of course it would take Caribbean bar and restaurant Lime House to come up with a cocktail named after English admiral, privateer and pirate Sir Francis Drake – this combination of rum, passionfruit puree, and homemade cinnamon syrup probably tastes infinitely better than the El Draque he concocted for his sailors to cure their illnesses.
7. Fairmont Old Fashioned (Anti:Dote).
First introduced when head bartender Tom Hogan was selected as a “Fairmont Tastemaker” and helped revamped the cocktail menu, the Fairmont Old Fashioned sees the uncommon use of both bourbon and rum in the classic.
Bonus: Ask for assistant head bartender Bannie Kang for her Hwachae, which just won her the title of Bacardi Legacy’s Singapore finalist – she’ll represent Singapore in San Francisco later this year.
8. Barrel-Aged Singapura Sling (Nutmeg & Clove).
Nutmeg & Clove stamps its own mark on the now world famous Singapore cocktail with its Barrel-aged Singapura Sling, turning the original into a short drink with gin, orange liqueur, Benedictine, cherry, hibiscus, pineapple, house bitters and then aging it all in oak.
9. Colonial Times (Tess Bar & Kitchen).
Tess Bar’s award-winning bartender Steve Leong concocts this refreshing long tipple using gin, homemade lemon and pink grapefruit cordial, and tops it off with beer. Perfect for beating stifling heat of the tropics.
10. Little Nonya (Jekyll & Hyde).
Jekyll & Hyde pays tribute to our Straits-born Chinese brethren with the Little Nonya, which combines rum, fresh lime juice, laksa leaves, simple syrup, fresh lemongrass, chilli bitters and soda water for a sweet and spicy kick. Yuzhu will be proud.
So here we have it – our definitive guide to this year’s Singapore Cocktail Week. If you see us at any of the participating bars or restaurants, remember to say hi.