The bar at KOMYUNITI in YOTEL Singapore offers an eye-opening range of handcrafted cocktails of a non-alcoholic nature.
You don’t normally think of heading out to paint the town red on a Friday evening with drinks of a non-alcoholic nature. But there are those who do, according to As’ad Isnin, the food and beverage manager at KOMYUNITI Bar & Restaurant in YOTEL Singapore. The award-winning bartender sees a good number of customers who walk in looking for a good time, but with non-alcoholic cocktails.
That prompted him to introduce a selection of what KOMYUNITI calls ‘placebo cocktails’ – not exactly mocktails, but tipples that look, smell, and taste as good as regular cocktails but without the hangover. “We don’t call them mocktails, because mocktails gives people the impression that they are just sugary, juice-based drinks,” Isnin explains. After all, think of the virgin cocktails you can name – the Shirley Temple, Arnold Palmer, or Roy Rogers – and you’ll quickly realise all of them are mere slap-dash party drinks.
But the explosion of cocktail culture in the early 2000s, along with the emerging category of non-alcoholic spirits in the past decade, has given rise to a movement towards zero- and low-alcohol cocktails of a far more artisanal nature. Today even the most serious award-laden cocktail bars in Singapore offer at least a couple of zero-alcohol tipples, crafted exactly like a proper cocktail but with non-alcohol or de-alcoholised ingredients, for those looking for a different night out.
KOMYUNITI’s placebo cocktails – it currently offers nine options made with Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits – follow that innovative approach. Some are purely straightforward; the “Gin & Tonic” combines Lyre’s London Dry Spirit with tonic water and garnishes, while No-Groni puts together Lyre’s equivalent of gin, Campari and vermouth for a zero-alcohol version of the Negroni.
But Isnin also leans on mixologist techniques. He uses various infusions, shrubs and fruit vinegars – as how a mixologist would for a normal cocktail – for some of his creations. The Gardener, for example, uses Lyre’s London Dry Spirit that’s been infused with peas, while Cracked Maison Jar employs a tangy shrub made from rosemary and strawberries. Its Amaretto Sour is made exactly like a usual sour too, complete with egg white and aromatic bitters as inspired by that cocktail.
It’s important to note that these KOMYUNITI non-alcoholic cocktails are not a direct substitute of the real thing. Don’t expect the No-groni to taste exactly like a Negroni, for example; the texture’s a lot lighter, and you don’t get the alcoholic burn on your palate you’d expect from the classic aperitif. Treat them as a different category instead, and you’ll be fine.
It seems to work. Isnin shares that KOMYUNITI sees a steady stream of drinkers coming in for ‘Sober Saturdays’ – when the restaurant and bar puts its placebo cocktails on promotion – even while their usual happy hour promotions apply. It’s refreshing to hear that there are consumers who are embracing a more moderate, sober-conscious approach to drinking.
“We’re looking at exploring more non-alcoholic spirits and continue experimenting with different ingredients for more of such placebo cocktails,” Isnin says.
And as more people asking for temperance-friendly cocktails enter the mainstream, we can certainly expect more drinking venues to offer them.
KOMYUNITI’s placebo cocktail menu is available from 12pm to 10pm daily. The placebo cocktails are 1-for-1 on Sober Saturdays.
KOMYUNITI Bar & Restaurant (YOTEL Singapore)
Address 366 Orchard Road Level 10, YOTEL, Singapore 238904 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 10.00pm daily
Tel (65) 6866 8067