MO Bar at Mandarin Oriental unveils a new cocktail menu that continues its exploration of regional flavours through various collaborations in its Nomadic Foragers programme.
One of the best moves Mandarin Oriental Singapore ever did was when they converted one of its standard vanilla hotel lounges in late 2018 into MO Bar. The chic and comfortable space was the hotel’s effort to create a cocktail bar concept that will rival the best in Singapore’s very competitive cocktail scene, and soon became a favourite watering hole for those who loved its vermouth happy hour and champagne happy hour promotions.
When it first launched, MO Bar had put together a rather eclectic cocktail menu that looked at exploring the flavours of Asia, harnessing ideas from the different cities that Mandarin Oriental had a footprint in. A month ago the bar revamped its cocktail offerings – with some help from bar consultants Proof & Co – but generally stuck to the same concept. This time though, bar manager and head bartender Michele Mariotti and his team drew inspiration from their travels across the region as part of the bar’s “Nomadic Foragers” programme; together they worked out collaborations with top bars and bartenders in the region to put together tipples that are as storied as they are tasty.
Essentially the new 16-drink cocktail menu is a homage to their visit to different cities around the region. You’re looking at the likes of T And T ($22++), a tequila-based highball that was conceived with bartender Jay Khan of Hong Kong’s award-winning cocktail bar COA, or Nomadic Forager ($24++), a coffee take on the Negroni as inspired by Sydney, Australia-based coffee liqueur producer Mr Black.
The Instagrammable Mother of Dragons from last year has given way to a new spiritual successor in Harvest Queen ($24++), a fruity-concoction made with Vietnamese rum Sampan that comes with the same colourful edible print – this time a peacock – on top. There’s also Final Journey ($24++), where they worked with Luke Whearty of Melbourne, Australia’s BYRDI – and formerly of Operation Dagger here in Singapore – to create a drink inspired by sparkling Shiraz made with Four Pillars Gin, hopped cordial and a blend of lavender and strawberry green tea.
In line with the current trend towards no- and low-ABV beverages, MO Bar has also introduced a number of “mocktails”. “We don’t like to call them mocktails because they almost alway seem to be an afterthought in cocktail menus,” Mariotti explains. “We approach the conceptualisation of our no-alcohol drinks as we do we our alcoholic ones.”
There’s Smoked Water ($16++), a non-alcoholic mizuwari which combines barrel aged water with a cordial made from green tea and rice which draws inspiration from an Osaka-based bartender, for example, or the Shanghai-inspired Silk Market ($12++) that’s made with fermented honey and mandarin. These temperance cocktails can also have alcohol added – Nikka Pure Malt whisky and Peddler’s Gin, respectively – if alcohol avoidance is not your goal.
You don’t have to be interested in all the various stories behind each cocktail to be able to enjoy them, but the MO Bar’s bartenders will happily regale you with their nomadic foragers experience and travel stories if you so choose. Us, we’re just going to kick back, relax and give thanks that this could have been a boring, plain vanilla hotel bar, but isn’t.
MO Bar (Mandarin Oriental)
Address 5 Raffles Avenue, Mandarin Oriental Level 4, Marina Square, Singapore 039797 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11am to 1am Sundays to Thursdays; 11am to 2am Fridays and Saturdays
Tel (65) 6885 3500