Team Spirited Singapore comes together with some trusted media friends to list our favourite drinks, dining and travel experiences of 2023.

Spirited Awards is back!

In a somewhat different form, at least.

We’ve evolved what started last year in an awards format – as a way to recognise and celebrate the bars and restaurants that we enjoyed – into a list of our favourite experiences instead. Which, we hope, is a better way to do things.

The categories this year are:

  • Favourite New Bar
  • Favourite New Restaurant
  • Favourite New Hotel
  • Favourite Drinks Programme
  • Best Bar
  • Best Restaurant
  • Best Hotel
  • Favourite Cocktail of the Year
  • Favourite F&B or Hospitality Personality
  • Favourite Drinks Event
  • Favourite Travel Destination
  • Best Winery, Brewery or Distillery Experience

This year our illustrious and fun-loving panel of media friends again consists of Kim Choong (editor of, Dannon Har (editor of Spill Mag), David Fuhrmann-Lim and Ben Chin (the folks from Parched), Shawn Loh (editor of Secret Life of Fatbacks), Adrian Eugene Seet and Dennis Seow (the team at, but also new are Katherine Goh (managing editor of, Shermane Eng (writer at Uncover Asia), Tanisha Khanna (lifestyle writer at City Nomads), freelance drinks and food writers Grace Ma and Nimmi Malhotra, as well as Damian Ooi, an occasional contributor to Spirited Singapore.

Again, a caveat. The ‘best’ or ‘favourite’ here as nominated by each panelist represents an experience we were most impressed by this year for each category. It is utterly subjective. This, it must also be emphasised, is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list. But it can be a guide if you’re aiming to try out a new bar or restaurant, or searching for a new travel destination.

With that out of the way, here are our ‘best’ whirlwind experiences of drinks, dining and travel in 2023.

Favourite New Bar

Mixology Salon is well-known in Tokyo with several outlets across the city, but the drinks certainly live up to the hype at its offshoot here in Singapore. The elegance and finesse in each drink is a reflection of the time spent experimenting with various uniquely Japanese flavours that complement each other. Each cocktail is refreshing, elegant with very nuanced flavours and depth, plus the bar is a lovely spot for a chill drink in the ‘noon or a nightcap.” – Shermane Eng, writer at Uncover Asia

“I’ve always enjoyed the Japanese bar experience – more introspective, less boisterous – and the Singapore outpost of Mixology Salon embodies that.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

“The hype for Mixology Salon may have died down, but the drinks are quite clean and the tea-tails are versatile enough for everyone to enjoy, from cocktail enthusiasts who enjoy complex flavours to the everyday Joe who is looking for something simple to do the trick. I do like that the space is intimate enough that you can squeeze a nice chat with the bartender, but it doesn’t feel too overcrowded either.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

“We love the cocktail program at PLUME in newly-renovated Pan Pacific Singapore, along with its captivating narrative and atmosphere. The culinary offerings were also a source of delight for us. The execution of the aviary theme was impeccable, extending seamlessly from the drinks menu, coasters and uniforms to the lounge area.” – Team (@superadrianme)

“I love the creative cocktails at Cat Bite Club themed around soju and agave that really bring out the flavours of the individual spirits.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Cat Bite Club. Every drink on the menu is beautifully balanced and brings a unique point of difference. I admire the risk (owners) Jesse and Gabriel took in basing their first bar on just two spirit categories. It is a brave move and their success is a testament to our city’s maturing tastes.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Side Door. Good food, good cocktails, good vibes!” – Kim Choong, editor at Thirst Mag

“Not only are there always new craft sakes to discover, Omu Nomu is a laidback, jocular space that also happens to have very good bincho grills and sashimi.” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

Draft Land Singapore changes the Singapore cocktail landscape with accessible, good quality cocktails on tap and dispels the notion that pre-batch/ready-made cocktails are inferior to “a la minute” cocktails.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle), occasional social contributor at Spirited Singapore

KUMI DEN - Beef Tartare

Spirited’s Pick:


There were certainly a wild number of exciting bar openings this year! While we do love Mixology Salon and Cat Bite Club as well, our vote goes to KUMI DEN, an intimate and cosy bar on one corner of Duxton Hill offering a fun wine list centred around minimal intervention wines as well as some truly exceptional contemporary Asian bites.

Favourite New Restaurant

Shin Terroir is a prime example of an atypical Japanese omakase experience that is creative enough yet doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-true formula. Great balance of novelty and familiarity.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

“Very, very surprising yakitori at Shin Terroir with its myriad of textures and flavours. The chicken skin was a highlight, with its outer crispy and inner fattiness. ” – Shawn Loh, editor at Secret Life of Fatbacks

“Chef Quỳnh’s bold, exciting take on Vietnamese fine-dining at Lộ Quậy is a real boon for jaded palates.” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

KUN. Rustic Sichuan flavours in refined dishes, precision cooking, rich storytelling and an elegant space.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

“The cocktails at Brasserie Astoria Singapore are truly exceptional, but what truly captivated us was the ambience that evoked nostalgic memories of my secondary school days spent attending concerts, rehearsals, and performing at the Victoria Concert Hall with the Singapore Youth Orchestra. Additionally, we savoured the delightful dishes offered at the venue — great dining destination with good food and a cocktail bar under one roof.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Brasserie Astoria Singapore. It’s a beautiful restaurant with good service and reasonably priced menu. Had the burger and calamari (the dip is awesome!), and some cocktails, it’s casual yet ‘atas’ with good quality ingredients. Their Gold Hours promo is a steal.” – Kim Choong, editor at Thirst Mag

“From the terrazzo-tiled floor to the ceiling bar to the velvet chairs, NOA hits all the right spots for me in terms of ambiance. Chef Alain Devahive manages to blend flavours and textures from southern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa harmoniously. When I ate the food, it really brought back memories of my travels in countries like Morocco and Spain.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor at Asia361

Khiri (formerly known as Restaurant Chedi). Yes, there are many Thai restaurants in Singapore, but i still struggle to find authentic flavours. Khiri has outdid itself with the chefs bringing in their own unique backgrounds to the table, and showcasing their understanding of Thai gastronomy and its demand for intricate layering of flavours. I hope they introduce an à la carte menu in the future, because i think it will make the restaurant a lot more approachable.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

KUN omakase Sichuan restaurant

Spirited’s Pick:


We agree with Grace on this one. Provincial Chinese cuisine is notoriously hard to elevate, but KUN is able to captivate diners on a refined gastronomic journey steeped in Chinese culture and history while tantalising palates with its Sichuanese flavours.

Favourite New Hotel

“I love the architecture of Mondrian Singapore Duxton, which takes a cue from Cubism and its namesake. The hotel rejuvenates that part of Craig Road/Neil Road with top quality F&B outlets like Bottega di Carna, Suzuki and Jungle Ballroom. I also dig the rooftop pool and cabana.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

Mondrian Singapore Duxton. Sure, the property is luxe. But i think the biggest sell for the hotel is the location – right in the heart of Singapore’s business/F&B scene. Not to mention its own suite of restaurants and bars!” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

“We were struck by the urban resort ambience of Pan Pacific Orchard. Our stay in a Beach Loft room, which provided direct pool access, added to the overall appeal. The food and beverage offerings not only provide great value but are also of high quality. The expansive executive lounge, featuring both indoor and alfresco seating, enhances the guest experience. The unique ‘beach access room’ too provided an excellent space for socialising with friends in a personalised, cushioned seating area surrounded by the pool.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Artyzen Singapore. The humongous private 95-square-metre landscaped sky terrace in the Terrace Suite. ‘Nuff said.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor at Asia361

Artyzen Singapore. Its rooms are stunning with their smart and appealing designs, being very comfy and airy (many rooms have balconies and the suites have terraces). It offers one of the best breakfasts in town too, even if its not buffet-style. And they have the country’s most crazy swimming pool with the oculus that looks down at the parking lot 20 floors below.” – Shawn Loh, editor at Secret Life of Fatbacks

fraser residence riverside promenade

Spirited’s Pick:

Fraser Residence River Promenade

Newly opened Fraser Residence River Promenade transforms what used to be pioneering nightspot Zouk into a snazzy modern 72-room property that’s altogether cosy, comfortable, and convenient. Aside from its cosy well-equipped rooms, the serviced residence – unlike most of its peers – boasts a spacious lounge that all residents have access to for complimentary daily breakfast and evening cocktails. A bonus? It’s also pet-friendly.

Favourite Drinks Programme

Mixology Salon. Out of this world techniques and meticulous execution get you progressive Japanese tea-inspired cocktails. The twists are nonpareil as well — how do you beat a Matcha Old Fashioned?” – David Fuhrmann-Lim, editor at Parched

Bar Kakure. Chii-san’s drinks programme is transcendent. His drinks, persona, and venue tie together seamlessly, working in unison to give guests a one-of-a-kind experience.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

Bar Kakure. Elegant yet bold cocktails, delicious small dishes, restrained showmanship and just a beautiful cosy place to hang out with cocktail maestro Kazuhiro Chii’s wry humour, especially on a rainy day.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

“You can see a lot went into creating the new IDENTITY menu at Jigger & Pony. Head bartender Uno Jang and his team have really gone above and beyond with new twists to classics, low ABV options, clever techniques, sustainability, and much more incorporated into this 24-cocktail menu. Not to mention their various collaborations with Singapore-based businesses and producers.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

Convivial Bar! Where else can you get this much champagne?” – Shawn Loh, editor at Secret Life of Fatbacks

Draft Land Singapore. Ideal for those who find it challenging to make a decision on what to order, this bar with draft cocktails provides complimentary samples before you make a choice. We appreciate the accessible and unpretentious nature of this establishment that’s synonymous with bars offering craft beer on tap.” – Team (@superadrianme)

“Interior, food programme, cocktail programme; White Shades has it all. I am impressed with the meticulousness of thought and execution. Not many places in Singapore where they bang out good food with equally good drinks.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

“Bai JiaWei has always had a very clear vision for his brands since Stay Gold Flamingo and White Shades was no exception. From the storytelling of each element in the space, the drinks representing each stage of conceptualising the brand, and so much more, you can feel every part of White Shades is like a part of JiaWei’s love for drinks and hospitality. The personal touches of including customers’ names on reservation cards and more feel like a warm welcome home each time you visit too.” – Shermane Eng, writer at Uncover Asia

Puffy Bois presents the perfect pizza-pairing pours with an excellent selection of grower champagnes, craft beers and, last but not least, a concise curation of killer cocktails.” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

Spirited Picks 2023 - 67 Pall Mall Singapore

Spirited’s Pick:

67 Pall Mall Singapore

With a wine programme offering over 5,000 bottles – of which some 1,000 are available by the glass – 67 Pall Mall Singapore is a wine lover’s paradise if you’re lucky enough to belong this member’s club (or know someone who is). We love that there’s an even more private lounge if you prefer your whisky or cocktails.

Best Overall Bar

Bar Cham in Seoul. Besides the traditional Hanok vibes of the bar, the staff are so welcoming to all customers, no matter whether they’re new to cocktails or experienced imbibers. That unpretentious, non-judgemental and warm approach to customers is no surprise as to why they’re in Asia’s 50 Best Bars. And the use of uniquely Korean ingredients to create classics as well as their own signature cocktails – each cocktail has a beautiful story behind it and comes meticulously crafted such that you taste each element of the cocktail in distinct layers.” – Shermane Eng, writer at Uncover Asia

“From the sky-grazing rooftop bar to the intimate, elegant Whisky Library, the sophisticated bar program makes Sora Bar at Rosewood Phnom Penh a drinker’s destination.” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

Bellboy Berlin. Amidst a 1920s vintage setting, the lavish speakeasy brought out the child in me with their creative, experimental, eye-catching cocktails. The names of the drinks are witty and fun, and the cocktails all come in fanciful, unexpected vessels. Then there is a Pink Room which looks straight out of a Wes Andersen movie. Hidden away too from the public is a second, more private bar with unbranded, limited-edition bottles and special drinks for more serious drinkers. And may I add that the washroom has a hanging disco ball and plays “Careless Whisper” by George Michael on loop? I have never had a more immersive outing in a bar than here.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor at Asia361

The Flying Bumblebee in Tokyo. Ai Igarashi’s baby is a Negroni-fuelled speakeasy in a basement of a nondescript building in Shibuya. Its Brutalist concrete is softened with lighting and lush leather, while black tiles accentuate Modernism. The cocktail programme consist of classics and Ai’s interpretation and fascination with Negronis and absinthe. It is a haven for peace and tranquility in bustling Tokyo.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

“There is a very genuine hospitality from the energetic team at Hong Kong’s DIO | Cafe Bar. No matter how crowded the 10-12 seater is, they make sure you feel welcomed. The creative Cantonese-inspired cocktails are genius. Visited them twice and brought friends along.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Dean and Nancy on 22, situated on the upper levels of A by Adina Sydney, provides a panoramic view of the cityscape from a bird’s-eye perspective. Boasting 17 celestial concoctions as part of its “Above the Clouds” menu, each offers an extraordinary and otherworldly experience in every glass. The bar’s spectacular sunset view transforms the bustling space into a convivial hub for thirsty and hungry patrons during this magical time of day.” – Team (@superadrianme)

PLUME at Pan Pacific Singapore. They have an excellent cocktail concept which is well executed. They also handle the classics with aplomb, and the service is top-notch. The vibe is upbeat and the avian design works.” – David Fuhrmann-Lim, editor at Parched

“The wine list at 67 Pall Mall Singapore offers a taste of most known and obscure wine making regions, but more than that, I enjoy the sommelier culture. I’ve discovered some great wines on head sommelier Roberto Duran’s recommendation.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Bar Kakure and its bartender-owner Kazuhiro Chii really impressed me. The menu is strategically curated to offer theatre, classics, health-conscious drinks and more. Not to mention the Yokohama hospitality and attention to detail that made us feel well-looked after.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

COA Hong Kong interior

Spirited’s Pick:


Have you been to a bar where every cocktail came perfect? We have, and it was at COA in Hong Kong. Despite the bizarre ingredients used in some of its signature concoctions, the drinks at this Mexican-inspired cocktail bar never disappoint. There’s a reason why COA has won pole position three years running in Asia’s 50 Best Bars, and came in at No.20 for World’s 50 Best Bars this year.

Best Overall Restaurant

Apéritif at Viceroy Bali. Their recent four hands dinner with 3 Michelin-starred Caprice was the perfect blend of French culinary finesse and warm Balinese hospitality.” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

Fyn is one of only two restaurants in South Africa to have made it to the World’s Best Restaurants list. I went with high expectations and it did not disappoint. The menu follows the Japanese kaiseki, multi-course dining concept. The ingredients used are proudly African but expressed through refined Japanese cooking techniques. Think ostrich egg chawanmushi, robata-grilled springbok leg and rooibos mochi. Yet the food does not come across as another pretentious run-of-the-mill fusion fare we see everywhere.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor of Asia361

“Ever eaten dim sum where the skin is the perfect thickness, texture and temperature when served? The Legacy House in Hong Kong is the place, where every dim sum, dish and dessert from the claypot rice to the swan yam pastry on the chef’s specials tasting menu was on point and gave the fuzzy feeling of home.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

“We have consistently been captivated by the culinary creativity and skills of Chef Edward Chong at Peach Blossoms, who never fails to impress with his theatrical presentation and gastronomic innovation. Chef Edward’s dedicated research and development efforts shine through in the creation of new and exciting dishes that not only delight the eyes of diners but also tantalise the palate and satisfy the stomach.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Restaurant JAG at STPI dining room

Spirited’s Pick:

Restaurant JAG

We’re massive fans of Chef Jérémy Gillon at Michelin-starred contemporary French restaurant JAG, whom we followed since its first days on Duxton Hill. He’s never failed to impress us with his seasonal, produce-forward culinary approach. JAG’s recent move to new digs at Robertson Walk and a pivot to an even more vegetable-centric menu only reinforced our respect for his craft. If there’s someone who can make us eat our vegetables willingly, it’s Chef Jérémy at JAG.

Best Overall Hotel

“I lost count of the number of times I said “Oh my God” at Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Having stayed at many luxury hotels before, it’s getting rare for me to be impressed by a hotel these days but I was in love the moment I stepped into the lobby. How often does one get welcomed by a fragrance gallery of Diptyque scents at check-in? Every room in the all-suite hotel is served by its own private lift! I love the decor, which juxtaposed old-world charm and contemporary style tastefully. I honestly did not want to leave.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor at Asia361

Raffles London at The OWO. Luscious, historical suites, flavourful locavore cuisine in the Mauro Colagreco restaurants, its central location and friendly, helpful staff.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Ace Hotel Kyoto. This is a heritage property full of charm and whimsy, with turntables in most rooms (records can be rented from the front desk) and an excellent restaurant, Kosa. It has a lovely courtyard garden for pensive moments and an attached shopping arcade with cafes for shaved ice and coffee. And a cinema in the basement too!” – Shawn Loh, editor at Secret Life of Fatbacks

“Staying within a zoo and cohabiting with a Malayan Sun Bear is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra. The comprehensive package encompasses a memorable dinner (with plenty of wine!), accompanied by the captivating sight of a pair of white lions observing guests from behind transparent glass. The bungalow offers a luxurious retreat, providing guests with exclusive privacy when the zoo is closed to the public.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Melia Phuket Mai Khao. This property is just simply beautiful, from its huge villas to the beachfront location. It is away from loud Phuket life, which makes for a great spot for folks looking for slow travel and just to unwind. They have also seamlessly integrated wellness into the stay, so you truly walk away a better you – refreshed and rejuvenated!” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

AC Hotel Krakow. Perhaps to most modern and contemporary hotel in Krakow, Poland to open this year. All the rooms have modern amenities and rooms and suites finish in ash wood shades, as an ode to its surroundings. Rooms have a generous balcony overlooking the lake or Wawel Castle. The kicker? The standard buffet breakfast has free-flow Prosecco and wines at no extra cost! It’s part of the Marriott Bonvoy family so i get to earn points too!” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong - Superior Harbour View Suite

Spirited’s Pick:

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

From its fabulous in-room amenities and stunning city views to stellar dining options and an unbeatable prime location, recently refurbished Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong oozes absolute class in a city chockfull with excellent stay options. It just edges Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo, another luxuriously indulgent property we had the privilege of checking out this year.

Favourite Cocktail of the Year

“The Cat Bite Margarita at Cat Bite Club is perfection in a glass.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Not Too Conventional at Sugarhall. A Tex-Mex inspired cocktail doesn’t sound like a winner – but it is, at least in Raz Ng’s hands. It’s the most delicious wagyu, red cheddar, and jalapeno I’ve ever drank rather than ate.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang at Sago House. This cocktail was created by Naz for Negroni Week 2023. Naz cleverly added a tropical touch of juicy pink guava into the drink which I think really elevated the classic Negroni and made it oh so enjoyable for me.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

“The classic Martini made by Alessandro Palazzi from London’s Dukes Bar – during his guest shift at Manhattan (as part of World’s 50 Best Bars celebrations) – will never be topped.” – David Fuhrmann-Lim, editor at Parched

Songpyeon in Autumn by Seoul’s Bar Cham. Served during their popup at Last Word when World’s 50 Best Bars was held in Singapore, this clear savoury cocktail riffs on the Songpyeon rice cake and is a party of clean distinct flavours in the mouth. Fragrant sesame oil aromas on the nose and a smooth concoction of chestnut liquor, naked malt, lemon and ginger on the palette. Served with a chocolate made by a chocolatier near Bar Cham. Deceptively simple but wonderfully complex.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Spirited Picks 2023 - Mixology Salon's Sencha G&T

Spirited’s Pick:

Sencha Gin Tonic

The Sencha Gin Tonic at Mixology Salon Singapore may look simple but belies amazing technique. This gin sonic allows the delicate flavours of the green tea to shine, perfectly displaying the Japanese cocktail bar’s intricate and inventive approach in combining traditional Japanese tea ceremony and clever mixology.

Favourite F&B or Hospitality Personality

“I’ve always been big on alcohol education, and no one does it as fervently as Adrian Goh, director of sake distributor Inter Rice Asia. His commitment to the cause since the early days sets him apart.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

Andrew Pang, brand ambassador at Beam Suntory. The way Andrew expresses himself shows a lot of empathy for others. Having to manage two demanding roles at the same time as and brand ambassador and bar owner of Spectre, Andrew is still always calm and composed. I don’t know how he does it.” – Kim Choong, editor at Thirst Mag

“Apart from creating delicious cocktails at Spectre, Andrew Pang of Beam Suntory possesses a certain warmth that draws people in and you can feel his genuine love for his work, and the people he works with. His positive mindset toward sharing his knowledge of spirits is also incredibly encouraging and uplifting.” – Shermane Eng, writer at Uncover Asia

Ricky Paiva of Flow Bar always has a friendly word when you bump into him. I co-judged a cocktail competition with him and I learnt so much as well.” – David Fuhrmann-Lim, editor at Parched

Chef Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre. Because of the way he elevates vegetables on his elegant plates.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Chef Edward Chong at Peach Blossoms. Always innovating and stays humble despite his immense talent. A rare gem!” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Norman Cross, General Manager for The Robertson House by Crest Collection is an industry veteran with a rich background in hospitality. His affable personality renders him a delightful conversationalist, creating a homely atmosphere for guests at his hotel. As a hands-on general manager, Norman is frequently observed personally tending to guests’ needs on the premises.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Spirited Picks 2023 - Chef Daniele Sperindio

Spirited’s Pick:

Chef Daniele Sperindio, Art di Daniele Sperindio

OK maybe we were bribed by his gift of an indulgent chocolate panettone this Christmas, but we’ve been following Chef Daniele Sperindio since his Open Door Policy days. The genius behind contemporary Italian restaurant Art di Daniele Sperindio quietly hones his art (see what we did there) in elevating Italian cuisine into the fine dining stratosphere – while orchestrating various four- and multiple-hand dinners in collaboration with other top Singapore-based chefs throughout the year that we’ve had the pleasure to attend. Art di Daniele Sperindio is due for a makeover in the coming year, and we can’t wait to see what Chef Daniele has planned.

Favourite Drinks Event

World’s 50 Best Bars right here in Singapore. A non-stop whirlwind of the most spectacular cocktail bars in a week. How do you top that?” – Ben Chin, contributing editor at Parched

“Intimate, geeky alcohol events like Sake Social are rare. While I enjoy large, fun-filled festivals as much as the next person, it’s simply not often when I get to geek out with fellow alcohol enthusiasts without restraint.” – Dannon Har, editor at Spill Mag

“Where else can you find over 400 types of nihonshu, 50+ tojis to walk you through a tasting adventure of Japan but at Sake Festival Singapore? Each brewery carefully curates their selection and put their best foot forward sharing with Singaporeans, their passion. You know it’s a ridiculously awesome event when the palate refresher is the Suntory Master’s Dream!” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

“We like how Whisky Live was spaced out this year. Tastings in the capsules of The Flyer were a novel idea.” – Team (@superadrianme)

Singapore Cocktail Festival. Great organisation, spacious venue and some excellent F&B options on offer. It was not crowded and also, the event was spread over three days which offered a lot of time to explore the exhibits. And of course, lots of boozy samples!” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

“I feel the beer industry is on the rise, both in Singapore and internationally. Beerfest Asia was more casual and easy-going compared to many other events; I think the fest was a lot more approachable for the general public in that sense. The live music was the cherry on top.” – Tanisha Khanna, lifestyle writer at City Nomads

Spirited Picks 2023 - Whisky Live

Spirited’s Pick:

Whisky Live

You have to appreciate a drinks festival that’s been running as long as Whisky Live, which returned for its 12th edition this year. More importantly, the event has grown from strength to strength, hosting more than 60 exhibitors – offering over 500 different whisky, bourbon, rum, and other spirits for tasting – that attracted over 3,000 whisky enthusiasts including those from around the region. A newly-introduced ‘Cocktail Street’ also upped the ante, tipping the scales in its favour.

Favourite Travel Destination

Okinawa! This region has so much to offer in terms of culture, history, and food and drink. Geographically, it’s small and easy to navigate. Awamori is the unique alcohol exclusive to Okinawa. Although awamori lacks awareness, but the Okinawans are starting to really promote their culture and local produce overseas. The people are open-minded and have a lot of compassion.” – Kim Choong, editor at Thirst Mag

“Never knew Graz, Austria existed until I was researching under-the-radar Austrian cities. Graz is known as the “Austria’s kitchen garden” and the culinary capital of the country. Love the chill university town vibes, restaurants and cafes that are passionate about using organic local produce, and the beautiful scenery and urban parks. Ticks all the boxes for balanced work-life living.” – Grace Ma, freelance writer

Coonawarra in South Australia. 15 odd wineries along Australia’s most fertile wine terroir opening their hearts and soul at the cellar door, so that you can enjoy and understand the awesomeness of the region and their New World wines.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

Palau. An untouched, pristine destination that’s not tainted by over-tourism. Great for those who enjoy diving, fishing and sea adventures. With the introduction of direct flights from Singapore to Palau, this destination is now more accessible. It’s always sunshine there, which is great for those escaping the cold winter destinations.” – Team (@superadrianme)

“Having travelled to over 70 countries, I feel that Cape Town, in South Africa offers a unique experience that I cannot find anywhere else. Cape Town has a varying landscape – forests, beaches, gardens, mountains, oceans, grasslands, nature reserves, vineyards all in one city. One moment I was admiring spectacular coastal views. The next moment I was spotting wild ostriches and fighting icy winds at the southernmost tip. And the food! I had the best fish and chips I have ever eaten in Cape Town. I would love to visit Cape Town again.” – Katherine Goh, managing editor at Asia361

“I love Hong Kong. There are plenty of things to celebrate in this city, and its recent hospitality award wins (Rosewood Hong Kong, The Upper House) and exciting hotel openings (Regent Hong Kong, Mondrian Hong Kong) prove it is still in the game.” – Shawn Loh, editor at Secret Life of Fatbacks

Margaret River in Western Australia has upgraded big time since I last visited a decade ago. Yes it’s bougie and upmarket – which has unfortunately driven the prices up – but you’ve got to love the fresh seafood and produce, the adventure and gastro-experiences, new emerging wine styles (Chenin Blanc, yes please!) and the awe-inspiring raw, rugged coastline.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Spirited Picks 2023 - Hong Kong

Spirited’s Pick:

Hong Kong

We really wanted to stump for Tokyo – especially with the currency exchange currently in Singapore’s favour! – but our heart says Hong Kong. The plucky city and its resilient people have suffered many a storm – from punishing political and economic ones to actual battering monsoons – but has endured throughout. Hong Kong’s food and cocktail scene remains stellar, so we’re always looking for excuses to yet again visit the Fragrant Harbour. Maybe next year’s Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival?

Best Winery, Brewery or Distillery Experience

“I love that Nikka Yoichi Distillery in Hokkaido, Japan has a museum laying out timeline of when the distillery started, how whiskies entered Japan, and the influence it has in the history of Japanese whisky. You can spend hours in the distillery and be transported back in time by just walking around the compound. They also show you the actual working of the distillery by having a worker to shove real coal into the burner for the stills.” – Kim Choong, Editor of Thirst Mag

“I admire the biodiversity and biodynamic initiatives at Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux, France.” – Nimmi Malhotra, freelance writer

Tio Pepe in Jerez, Spain. Learnt about three centuries of sherry and brandy making.” – David Fuhrmann-Lim, editor at Parched

Comyns & Co in Hunter Valley, Australia is a family-run, minimal intervention winery that has some unique blends like a Shiraz Viognier and bringing back traditions like the “Hunter Valley blend” of Shiraz and Pinot. The tasting room is spacious, comfortable and airy with articulate staff who have been in the wine business at the Hunter Valley for decades. What was initially a 45-minute session became two hours with staff answering all your questions, understand your needs, and most importantly, making you feel like family.” – Damian Ooi (@drinking_noodle | @traveling_noodle)

Spirited Picks 2023 - Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery

Spirited’s Pick:

Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery

Set at the foot of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji, Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery in Shizuoka is where the Japanese beverage giant Kirin makes FUJI Whisky. Despite the relative inaccessibility, the distillery is absolutely recommended for whisky enthusiasts where you can witness how it makes many different styles of whiskies in a single location using a combination of rotund pot stills and towering column stills, which is rather unique in the world of whisk(e)y production. A tasting room that allows you to – for a price – taste its entire portfolio of whiskies? Winning.

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