Nutmeg & Clove’s new cocktail menu combines some of the weirdest and yet wonderful ingredients for some Chinese horoscope-inspired tipples.
Award-winning cocktail bar Nutmeg & Clove has seen some massive changes in recent time. For example, it moved from its previous home of six years at Ann Siang Hill to its current Purvis Street location earlier this year. It has also overhauled its bar team; among the newcomers are bar manager Shelley Tai and senior bartender Joshua Pang (formerly of Hong Kong’s Quinary and Singapore’s MO Bar, respectively).
Those of us who’ve visited Nutmeg & Clove over the years would know that they’ve been a huge proponent of using familiar local ingredients, and their cocktail menus are generally inspired by Singapore flavours. A previous menu told the story of Singapore through its drinks, and yet another was a collaboration with Singapore’s National Heritage Board that tapped the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings for ideas. Its most recent menu, “Flavours & Memories Vol 3. – Tasty Origins of the Five Pillars”, was inspired by the cuisines of Singapore’s various ethnic groups.
Its latest cocktail menu, “Mythical Animals Story: The Great Race” moves away from that. Driven by newcomers Tai and Pang, the 12 newly-unveiled cocktails are inspired by the animals of the Chinese zodiac. What’s truly astonishing about these new Nutmeg & Clove cocktails? Most of them employ at least one ingredient in their making that will surprise – or shock – you.
There’s Rat-A-Boy, a whisky highball that uses Port Charlotte Islay peated whisky, but also pecorino cheese. Or how about Fat Cow, a spiced take on the Manhattan that sees its Monkey Shoulder whisky base fat-washed with wagyu beef fat?
Hendrick’s Gin-based Tropic Growl, on the other bizarrely combines Sarawak long pepper, mango, and black sesame in a single drink, while Nabbit is a concoction from vodka, pine nut, purple carrot wine (?), and fig leaf kombucha. Medusa uses black glutinous rice in its making, and Dark Horse, smoked hay. Babi-Q incorporates smoked chorizo. The clarified milk punch that is Cock-Cock-Kei? Chicken fat.
If these sound utterly bizarre, that’s because they are. But somehow Tai and Pang make the flavours work. Only trouble is, based on their menu descriptions alone, even the most serious cocktail drinkers would hesitate before ordering.
Alongside the new Nutmeg & Clove cocktails is a totally overhauled food menu which, despite being experimental mod-Asian, feels far more conventional in comparison. Curated by Chef Willin Low of Wild Rocket fame, the food here are liberal spins on familiar local eats. Curry Kueh Pie Tee takes shredded curry chicken and stuffs that into the Peranakan kueh pie tee cups, while Miso Prata Pizza is exactly what it sounds like – roti prata turned into a pizza base, topped with miso and scallions, with flavours reminiscent of Chinese spring onion pancakes.
There’s Dry Mee Siam, which takes the Malay and Peranakan favourite and elevates it with deep-fried soft shell crab. More traditional is Teochew Lor Bak, with its braised pork belly and chee cheong fun (flat rice noodles) combination.
Our favourites from the food menu? Foie Gras Kaya Toast, which eschews the usual butter in kaya toast and replaces it with similarly unctuous – and far more decadent – foie gras, as well as the Tom Yum Bishop’s Nose, because it’s as wonderfully weird as Nutmeg & Clove’s new cocktails. And also because we can’t find this favourite chicken part of ours served in any other cocktail bar.
As you can imagine, the new Chinese zodiac inspired Nutmeg & Clove cocktails – with their wild and whacky ingredients – are not for the faint-of-heart. Alternatively, ask for classic cocktails, or opt for one in its “Hall of Fame” list, a collection of popular favourites from over Nutmeg’s storied history. But if you’re an adventurous spirit, you’re in for a great time.
Nutmeg & Clove
Address 8 Purvis Street, Singapore 188587 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 4pm to 10.30pm Mondays to Fridays; 12pm to 10.30pm Saturdays and Sundays