Singapore’s most awarded bar Jigger & Pony releases its latest cocktail menu; ‘Identity’ asks searching questions about its future in cocktail form.
When you’re among the shining lights of Singapore’s cocktail bar scene, all eyes are on you whatever you do.
Especially if you’re Jigger & Pony.
The acclaimed pioneering cocktail bar is, after all, considered Singapore’s leading cocktail bar, having placed No.2 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars last year, as well as the only one of two Singapore bars to place in World’s 50 Best Bars the same year.
As you can expect, when the time comes round for Jigger & Pony to release a new cocktail menu, it’s a lot of pressure. So it is with ‘Identity’.
Because ‘Identity’ is more than a menu. Presented as a menu-zine – that is, a magazine menu – it’s not simply a listing of the various new cocktails on offer. Instead the 68-page tome traces the cocktail bar’s evolution since it first threw open its doors back in 2012, and asks deep searching questions about what the future holds for the bar, the global bar community, and the world at large.
“Where are you from? What do you do? What are you passionate about? These are questions commonly asked about one’s identity. But, identity is more than who we are, it’s also the questions we are asking about the future – our aspirations, visions, fears, and concerns. It’s also who we want to be in the future,” muses Uno Jang, Bar Manager of Jigger & Pony. “Each cocktail in this menu highlights our strengths, diversities of ideas we stand for, and the stories of our bar, bartenders and community – all of which contribute to our identity.”
Perhaps it’s the recent pandemic that forced such serious introspection. As a cocktail bar that’s survived over a decade in Singapore’s brutally competitive F&B landscape, I guess it has earned the right to be a little self-reflective.
The new Jigger & Pony ‘Identity’ offers more than 20 different cocktails listed under different chapters. The first section spotlights the classic cocktails that have helped propel the cocktail bar into the limelight over the past decade, such as the Old Fashioned and the Negroni. I first had my taste of their fabulous Old Fashioned back in 2012, and the little tweaks they’ve done since has only made it better.
Or their twists to familiar favourites, such as the ever popular Yuzu Whisky Sour, the sophisticated Bitter Gimlet, or the new and improved Dirty Martini. The last is a modern reimagination by reengineering their own olive brine for consistency, but also comes a miso- and cheese-stuffed green olive for those who like their Dirty Martinis absolutely filthy. You’ll find the Godfather and Clover Club here too, two old-school tipples that have fallen out of favour in recent decades but which the bar is striving to bring back.
The one drink from this introspective section that you’re likely to overlook? The Super Lemon Highball. It may look like any other whisky highball. But Jang and his team has juxtaposed modern mixology techniques and traditional methods on this bartender’s favourite, resulting in a version that’s incredibly mellow and complex for what is supposed to be a very uncomplicated drink.
The next section explores the future. Here the bar asks questions about provenance and meaning. The Ugly Tomato, for example, takes a look at sustainability, juicing up B-grade heirloom beefsteak tomatoes that would have otherwise been thrown away for a drink that’s a tasty hybrid between a sour and a Bloody Mary. Or the Cloudy Kangaroo, which borrows inspiration and flavours from the natural wine movement. This part vodka martini part milk punch is left intentionally cloudy from the use of sake lees and strained soy curd, and comes bursting with notes of peach and sherry.
But there’s also Greatest Of All Time, a whisky-based concoction that’s creamy like your Gin Fizz. This collaboration with Hay Dairies is a tribute to the few and diminishing producers in Singapore making some of the products that grace our table.
And of course, a non-alcoholic section, because there are some of us in the world wants to be a teetotaller but also have our fun. Fig & Ginger and Pear & Hops, created with the same craftsmanship that go into their boozy cousins, offer flavour without the resulting buzz.
As for Jigger & Pony’s future? “I still don’t have answers. But by asking many questions in this new menu, we have crafted cocktails that show the importance of pushing ourselves even further,” Jang shares.
I guess it’s a question to ask again another ten years down the road.
Jigger & Pony
Address 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Amara Hotel, Singapore 088539 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 12am Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays; 6pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Mondays
Tel (65) 9621 1074
Reservations book here