Music and cocktail enthusiasts should check out the new cocktail programme at Cool Cats, The NCO Club’s live music venue featuring snazzy tunes and great tipples.
Singapore’s live music scene recently took a hit when the iconic Blu Jaz Cafe got its entertainment licence stripped from them, leaving many Singapore-based musicians one less place to practice and showcase their craft. Thankfully in the past few months a number of venues have stepped up – Maduro in Dempsey, for example, or airport-themed cocktail bar Idlewild in Hotel Intercontinental Singapore.
And then there’s also Cool Cats, located at lifestyle destination The NCO Club conveniently located right smack in South Beach Avenue of Singapore’s City Hall district. Now most cocktail hounds will be familiar with the bar at Madame Fan – helmed by award-winning bartender Davide Boncimino – on the upper floor of The NCO Club; less would have heard of jazz club Cool Cats.
But they really should. The new cocktail programme introduced at Cool Cats is the brainchild of resident mixologist Nicola Patero – previously of Spago – who has endeavoured in putting together 14 different concoctions, each a tribute to a particular milestone in different music eras, especially for jazz and blues.
In a sense, each cocktail is a taste of history. Consider By The Mississippi Railway ($26++), which blues fans would recognise as an oblique reference to the W.C Handy – better known as the “Father of the Blues” – as the inspiration for his song ‘Yellow Dog Blues’. The drink itself is a whisky-based martini, which combines blended malt whisky with Peychaud bitters and basil syrup for a rather heady concoction; the pickled watermelon rind is a nice tangy touch to offset the drink’s potency.
Or how about Ways Of A Diva ($24++, pictured above), a liquid hat-tip to Bessie Smith, the “Empress of the Blues”? Here she’s honoured as another spirit-forward drink, put together with mezcal, pear and chocolate liqueur; it’s a balance of chocolatey sweetness, smokiness and tanginess, and altogether mesmerising as Smith’s soul-caressing voice.
Then there’s Café Society ($26++, above), yet another potent drink made with a blend of agave-based spirits that’s infused with charred corn, that’s mixed in with Amaro and Mr. Black coffee liqueur. Music historians will instantly recognise the reference to the Manhattan nightclub that attempted to defy American racial segregation in its time during the late ’30s and ’40s by showcasing African American talent.
Along similar lines, the cocktail at Cool Cats that is Holiday’s Protest ($24++) refers to jazz singer Billie Holiday’s song ‘Strange Fruit’, which she sang in Café Society in 1939 as a protest against the lynching of blacks during that time. This is a twist on the classic Tom Collins, comprising of gin, dragon fruit, sencha and yuzu.
Patero’s playlist goes on. What cocktail lovers can really appreciate here is that Patero doesn’t quite go overboard with mixology tricks like rotovaping and such. Instead he opts for simple twists to classic cocktails; you’ll recognise chamomile-infused Lady Ella ($24++) as a Gimlet, the coconut-flavoured Boogie Woogie ($28++) as an Old Fashioned, and the Martinez in The Innovator ($24++).
And the music? You’ll be entertained live from time to time by the likes of Singapore-born (and Melbourne-based) jazz and bossa nova singer Dawn Ho, as well as fellow compatriots and songstresses Singapore Idol finalist Mathilda D’Silva and Carol Gomez belt out tunes that harken to an earlier era.
Drink prices here at Cool Cats are definitely on the high side, but most true music lovers will find it’s a fair price to pay for what are good cocktails and excellent live music entertainment.
Address 32 Beach Road, The NCO Club, Singapore 189764 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 8.30pm to 1am Wednesdays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays