Cocktail bar Nutmeg & Clove’s latest menu, “Flavours & Memories Vol 3. – Tasty Origins of the Five Pillars” taps on the cuisines of Singapore ethnic groups for inspiration.
When it comes to cocktail bars in Singapore, there’s one that really champion local flavours. Since 2014, avant-garde Singapore cocktail bar Nutmeg & Clove has experimented with the kind of inspiration using native ingredients in ways to create cocktails that many may aspire to but few actually do well. One of its previous cocktail menus told the story of Singapore through its drinks, and a more recent one was a collaboration with Singapore’s National Heritage Board that tapped the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings for inspiration.
But Nutmeg & Clove’s latest menu, “Flavours & Memories Vol 3. – Tasty Origins of the Five Pillars”, may be the most inspired one yet. It taps into the signature dishes and drinks from the cuisines of our country’s five major ethnic groups – Indian, Peranakan, Chinese, Malay, and Eurasian – for a collection of cocktails that is both comfortingly familiar and yet strangely novel.
You’re looking at the likes of the Masala Fizzle ($23++), a spiced whisky highball based off chai masala, or the mango lassi-inspired Ramos Gin Fizz that’s When Ramos Met Lassi ($23++), inspired by our favourite Indian beverages. Then there’s Hendrick’s Orbium gin-based Roses & Lychees ($23++), a delicately floral and sweet clarified milk punch modelled after the Malay beverage of bandung.
Bloody Mary lovers may baulk at the idea of their favourite cocktail inspired by Singapore’s signature dish of chilli crab, but Bloody Crabs ($23++) is rather amazing – the chilli crab tomato base adding a lovely savoury note to the drink.
If you prefer your drinks spirit forward there’s the Auntie Sugee ($23++), a take on the Old Fashioned made with cognac that’s been fat-washed with almond butter to replicate the flavours of an Eurasian sugee cake. Or the Maxwell Martini ($23++), a twist on the Vesper that tastes exactly like Hainanese chicken rice.
But not all such dish-based cocktails in “Tasty Origins of the Five Pillars” work as well as intended. The Golden Duck ($23++) – inspired by salted egg yolk chips – perhaps tries too hard to incorporate salted egg yolk flavours that really shouldn’t belong in a drink, alcoholic or not. Likewise the Slinging Rojak ($23++), a take on the Singapore Sling using a house distillate made with the ingredients that go into a rojak; flavours are – pardon the intended pun – a messed-up jumble of flavours.
For sure some cocktail purists may not quite get into such gastronomic cocktails; that’s ok, the cocktail bar also offers a parallel menu of classics alongside these more quirky cocktails. But if you’re really looking for Singapore flavours in your cocktails, the “Tasty Origins of the Five Pillars” here at Nutmeg & Clove is your most comprehensive bet yet.
Nutmeg & Clove
Address 10 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069789 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 1am Mondays to Thursdays, and Saturdays; 6pm to 2am on Fridays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 9389 9301