This the season to be drinking! This November 2022 edition of Drinkspotting looks at refreshed cocktail menus from some of our favourite cocktail bars.
One of the things we love about Singapore opening up after dealing courageously with the pandemic? Our nightlife scene is finally back on track. And for the cocktail hounds among us, this means new cocktails introduced at some of our favourite watering holes across town!
Here’s a look at five recently-introduced or totally refreshed cocktail menus we highly recommend you check out going into the festive season.
Republic Bar has just newly updated its cocktail menu. Like just this week.
The cocktail lounge at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore burst into the Singapore’s cocktail scene early last year, and surprised observers by promptly skyrocketing to a No.12 position in the vaunted Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 with its inventive ’60s-themed drinks and decor barely within a year.
Republic Bar’s Volume Two menu, while doubling down on its ’60s era theme, moves away from the geographical lens to spotlight pop culture themes around art, cinema, fashion, and music. Like its debut menu, all 16 brand-new cocktails have stories to tell. There’s Georgette under ‘Art’, a gin-based clarified soy milk punch that pays tribute to the late pioneering Singapore artist Georgette Chen. The tipple comes with hints of lychee and other fruits, a hat-tip to Chen’s penchant for painting fruit baskets.
For ‘Cinema’ there’s Lion City. Named for the first local post-war Chinese film produced in Singapore, this rum punch – flavoured with familiar notes of kaya and pandan – is Republic Bar’s challenge to the Singapore Sling. Among the drinks listed under ‘Fashion’ is Mondrian, referencing the iconic Mondrian dresses by Yves Saint Laurent that defined haute couture in the 60s. The cocktail itself is essentially a gin sour, the drink emblazoned with edible paper on the top with the signature graphic lines and block design.
We also tried Kim Sisters, under the category of ‘Music’. This twist on Irish coffee – a successor to the very popular Satisfaction from its debut menu – is inspired by the first South Korean girl band that made it big in the United States in the ’50s and ’60s. The Korean influence? Dalgona coffee, which adds a creamy sweetness to the hot coffee-based cocktail.
Republic Bar | 7 Raffles Ave, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Lobby Level, Singapore 039799 (Google Maps link)| 12pm to 12am Mondays to Thursdays; 12pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays; 12pm to 10pm on Sundays | www.republicbar.com.sg | 64345288 | reservations
Like Republic Bar, Flow Bar was also bravely opened up on the back of the pandemic last year. Helmed by veteran bartender Ricky Paiva – you may know him from his days at Manhattan or Tras Social Library in Six Senses Maxwell – this cosy little bar upstairs above Michelin-starred contemporary French restaurant JAG has a refreshed cocktail menu, its first update since opening mid-2021.
A good number of old favourites have been retained on the menu that’s split into four sections – ‘The Living Room’, ‘The Garden’, ‘The Office’, and ‘The Playground’. “My regulars will kill me if I removed them from the menu,” Paiva sheepishly tells us. So you’ll find the likes of the Burnt Lemon Whiskey Sour, Jesse James, Cinnamon Girl, and Espresso Martini still gracing the menu.
But the new creations absolutely impress. Peach and Celery from ‘The Garden’ may sound like simple, feminine drinks, but they are well-layered thirst-quenchers. A must-order from ‘The Playground’ is the deceptive-sounding She So Shiso. This gin-based tipple also reads like a sweet cocktail, but is really a well-balanced concoction that suits any drinking occasion. Or for something refreshing, there’s Cougar Paw, a twist on the French 75 made with gin, lime, mint, prosecco, and Angostura bitters.
Looking for something spirit-forward? Opt for Patina. This Rusty Nail/Manhattan hybrid combines blended malt, Drambuie and amaro with a touch of cacao that makes for pure sipping pleasure.
Nemesis is another bar that opened up around mid 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. This modern dive bar on Duxton Hill offers an eccentric, dystopian perspective in Singapore’s drinks scene, and is as well known for its playful takes on seltzers and martinis as its downright delicious Italian bar bites.
It doubles down on that quirkiness with its recently revamped drinks list. Under its ‘Session Seltzers’ section is High Tea, a whisky-based highball that smacks of iced lemon tea, while gin-based Caroline goes the flowery route with notes of rose and violets.
It gets more experimental. There’s Root Roy in ‘Frenemies’, a twist on the classic Rob Roy but with a hint of infused beetroot. Or the potent Jugador, which combines mezcal and tequila in an agave-based Negroni. For lovers of the classic Martini? Well there’s four offbeat versions instead. There’s Lush Life if you prefer a robust, rounded version; the Crossfade if you’re more of an Espresso Martini type, or Inertia if you enjoy a more herbal take, for example.
And don’t forget the eats at Nemesis. We’ll still order their Lasagna Bites anytime, but the vegetarian version – the Veggie Lasagna Bites made with spinach and artichoke is similarly scrumptious.
Bar at 15 Stamford
The Bar at 15 Stamford at The Capital Kempinski Hotel is best known for its sprawling collection of rums and a glorious selection of rum-based cocktails. And while its debut menu back in 2019 told the story of pioneering Joseph Balestier and his experiments with making rum right here in Singapore, its latest bar menu moves away from that.
Instead the new menu takes cocktail revellers on a transoceanic journey across Austronesia. Each of the 16 cocktails is named for either an island, a ship, or a famous wayfarer sailing across the seas to discover a once-unknown land mass in that part of the Pacific.
There’s Hoto Matua 1000, named for Easter Island’s legendary first settler, for example. This is a French 75 meets rum punch, a deceptively potent concoction combining rum, amaro, and a blend of bitters topped up with sparkling wine. Or how about the Ilha Formosa 1542? Inspired by the name Portuguese sailors gave Taiwan in 1542, it puts together an oolong and jasmine tea blend with cognac, gin and dry vermouth for a dry yet refreshing cocktail.
Then there’s Lakatoi 1855, named for the double-hulled sailing boat of Papua New Guinea. This is a taste of the tropics with white rum, banana liqueur, Aperol, citrus and orange bitters.
But Balestier isn’t totally forgotten. Remember the Balestiers – a twist on the rye-based cocktail Remember the Maine – from the debut menu remains, as is Peranakan Old Fashioned. So too is the rum punch that is Plantation 1840, although the ingredients have been switched up a little.
For those who love a taste of travel and history, the new cocktail menu at The Bar at 15 Stamford will speak to you.
The Bar at 15 Stamford | 15 Stamford Rd, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, Singapore 178906 (Google Maps link)| 4pm to 12am daily| www.kempinski.com/en/the-capitol-singapore/restaurants-bars/the-bar-at-15-stamford | 67156871 | reservations
Then there’s Gibson. Named for the classic Gibson cocktail – that’s essentially a Martini garnished with a pickled onion instead of the usual olive – it’s pretty much the bar we head to when we want a Gibson. Which is all the time.
The namesake Gibson here remains the best there is in town, for one reason. Their version was created by Jigger & Pony Group’s Aki Eguchi and Michito Kaneko from Nara, Japan-based Lamp Bar, using a special sake-based vermouth instead of the usual dry white vermouth, giving it an unusual umami yet fruity note that absolutely works with a pickled onion (in fact you’ll get a pickled onion, seasonal pickle, and a smoked quail egg as condiments to pair with your Gibson).
But if you don’t want to be boring like us, there are new cocktails in its recently introduced ‘Chimera’ cocktail menu. There’s Urban Farmer No.4, the fourth iteration of a gin-based cocktail celebrating local produce. This version is made with cranberry hibiscus sourced from Edible Garden City, and given even more fruity and floral vibes with raspberry, cassis, and apple in addition to the gin. Alternatively there’s Sugarcane Spritz, a spirit-forward libation made with cachaça and housemade sugarcane wine that’s balanced with tangy lime cordial and savoury olive brine.
Or how about the Amazake Bellini? This amazake twist on the classic Bellini gives its a rich creaminess that’s given a lift from pandan. But if we had to anything aside from the Gibson, it has to be Back To The Roots. A classy Oriental take on the Manhattan, it uses rye whiskey that’s been infused with Chinese licorice root – used in traditional Chinese medicine – to impart a herbal bitterness, while tomato adds a savoury umami quality.
Gibson | 20 Bukit Pasoh Road, 2nd Floor, Singapore 089834 (Google Maps link)| 6pm to 12am Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 6pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Tuesdays | www.gibsonbar.sg | 91148385 | reservations
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