Once Upon a Time, in a land far far away, there lived a Man. He was a man of, he would like to think, good taste.
The Man enjoyed a good cocktail very much. He also liked his food very much. The trouble was, he did not often get to do both at the same time.
He often wondered why this was so. Surely someone must be able to do both, he thought. Surely there could be someone who can match taste and texture. But, he was often disappointed.
One day, the Man heard of a place called The Tippling Club. It was supposed to be a good restaurant – fine dining in fact. Many said that the drinks were also good. A sorceror was said to be visiting the Club, a wizard from the exotic shores of Brittania named Dominic Whisson, of the Order of the Savoy.
Finally, the man thought, finally there will be real magic.
Chapter One: A Magical Journey
And so the Man journeyed far far away to Tanjong Pagar Road, home to magicians and alchemists. The common folk called them mixomancers, for they could create potions of many colours, potions said to cure illnesses and soothe souls. Some could even catch the wind in their glasses.
Soon, the Man caught sight of The Tippling Club, and he knocked on the door.
“Come right in,” said the master of the castle, who was named Joe, “we’ve been expecting you.”
Joe led the Man upstairs, to a chamber dimly lit. There were many people there, people who had come to meet Dominic the Wizard of Savoy.
Joe stopped and stretched out his hand, pointing at a man dressed all in white. The white wizard’s robes were elaborate and neat. He was bald and he had a broad smile on his face as the man greeted him.
“Hello, I’m Dominic”, he said, reading the Man’s mind. “We will have five drinks tonight, and five splendid dishes to go with them.”
Dominic gave the man his first concoction in a coupe glass. It was lightly coloured, with a dark red berry that sunk to the bottom.
“It’s called a Corpse Reviver #2,” Joe explained. “Meant to refresh you and awaken your senses. Made with lemon, Cocchi Americano, Orange Curacao, Anise and a Sapphire gin from Bombay. It’s a welcome drink.”
The man hesitated. He was weary from his travels, it was true. But he wasn’t dead, as far as he could tell. He took a little sip, worried.
The Corpse Reviver #2 was not bad. Refreshing, as Joe had said. A light touch to start, but the man craved more.
Chapter Two: Abbey Road and Escoffier Cromequis
Soon, Joe brought out the second drink, which he proclaimed to be “Abbey Road”. The drink was a light, rosy colour and had an inviting smell of lemons and yuzu. Beside it were golden nuggets the size of hen’s eggs, called the Escoffier Cromequis – croquettes by another name.
The Abbey Road tasted good, the Man thought. It had a pleasant bitterness to it that resembled grapefruit. There was sourness, some root and spice as well. It went well with the golden nuggets, which were crunchy outside, but tender within. He thought that there might have been truffles, herbs and some cheese in it.
Still, the Man was not satisfied. He wants more. And Joe only smiled.
Chapter Three : Olympia and Arnold Bennet a la Tippling
Joe brought out more of the magician’s drinks. A tall glass emerged, full of a white potion, with a fresh spring of herbs and flowers on top. It was the Olympia, and contained the spirit of a far off land named Greece.
Greece must be a bitter place, the Man thought, full of salt, sea, spice and herbs. For that was what he tasted. The drink’s bitterness was pleasant to him, light on the tongue, with a soothing warmth coming up his throat.
The dish was creamy and savoury, an omelette with a light texture and herbal flavour to match that of the drink. The taste of the fish in it reminded the Man of the Mediterranean, the same as when he was drinking the Olympia. The omelette and drink almost seemed to become one in the Man’s mouth, making promises of good things to come.
Chapter Four: Eternal Whisper and Red Snapper Bouillabaisse
The Man was thinking of the sea, so he was pleasantly surprised when the next dish was served. A Bouillabaisse of red snapper, with a rich orange hue was brought out. The stew smelled delicious, with fragrant aromas of herbs and spices wafting from it.
The fish was tender but springy, giving the Man something to chew on. With the rich tomato and herb gravy, which was neither too sweet nor too sour, it tasted heavenly. The Man was enjoying it very much, when his next drink arrived.
The drink was again herbal and grassy at first, but now the Man tasted honey. Somehow, the bitterness disappeared as he was drinking, turning into a sweetness that was light as snow. The herbs and lime in the Eternal Whisper flowed smooth as silk into the tomatoes of the soup. The Man was surprised to find that the drink and stew went so well together that he he couldn’t tell them apart after a while.
Chapter Five : Black Eagle and Beef Cheek Bourguignon
The last main course was to come next, but before that, Joe served the Black Eagle. This time, the drink was thick and rich, and tasted like coffee and red fruits. It was bittersweet, with a sweet and sour flavour of wine in it.
The main course was the beef bourguignon, which the Man knew was a classic French dish. A rich wine sauce, with the flavours of berries and oak, drenched a chunk of tender beef. A piece of bacon gave the meat the flavour of smoke. The smoke in the beef and the Black Eagle, and the fruity taste of the wine in both were married, and it made the Man very happy.
Chapter Six: Hackney Carriage and Peach Melba
At last, Joe brought out the dessert and drink going with it. The dessert was a slice of peach, with red raspberries and vanilla ice cream scattered on the side.
The last drink was a sunny golden colour that was simple, but elegant. It had layers of aromas, sweet and sour flavours of plums, then vanilla and raisin from the rum, and ending in a puff of smokiness. The Hackney Carriage was rich, but not cloying. It was the perfect drink for a perfect goodbye.
Chapter Seven: A Happy Ending
The Man was happy. The stories about the wizard from the Savoy were true, and he had finally tasted five dishes that were perfectly paired with five drinks. The man would never forget about the Tippling Club, where he had finally found what he was looking for.
It came at a price, but he was contented to pay.
Epilogue: Twice Upon a Time
As the Man was about to leave, Joe told him that Dominic would be returning home, but two wizards would be coming soon with a different set of potions.
The duo are Robin Kolek & Gregory Camillò of Bar Termini, and their show will be in conjunction with Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017. The two wizards are experts in Italian aperitivos, especially the Negroni. The drinks will be paired with Italian-inspired fare by Tippling Club’s Chef Ayo Adeyemi, who also created the Once Upon a Time at the Savoy menu.
The Man was looking forward to coming back and meeting them.
Once Upon a Time at Bar Termini
Date: Saturday, 18 March 2017
Time: 7.00pm onwards
Venue: BIN 38 at Tippling Club, 38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088461
Admission: $155++ with 5 pairing cocktails and 5 plates