The Singapore Cocktail Festival is coming soon, and one of its most exciting elements is the search for Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail- a cocktail that can stand proudly next to the Singapore Sling on the global stage.
Imagine a walk through the woods (or nature reserve, if you happen to be in Singapore). It’s early evening, and the air is pleasurably cool on your bare skin after a gentle shower.
You let your senses take over your conscious mind.
Surrounding you are trees, so tall you have to crane your neck to spy the topmost boughs. Their leaves are a glimmering green on the branches, and a ruddy brown on the forest floor. Your eyes find their humble cousins- the shrubs and bushes-sitting on the brown earth. They are sparse with foliage, but their enormous, juicy, black berries seem to leap off the stems, begging to be devoured.
You close your eyes, now, and let your nose wander. As your consciousness expands, you catch the scent of rain and wet grass, and also the deep earthiness of the soil. You smell herbs, fruit, and even- maybe – the sweetness of summer flowers.
You enjoy solitude, but not loneliness. Nature and you are one, for just a moment.
Now imagine there’s a drink that captures that scene.
A question: can spirits to evolve?
With the weight of hundreds of years of history bearing down on rum, whisky, and even gin, is there truly room for change? Regulations and trade associations continue to define and codify rules of production and classification. Mavericks are decried by critics, whether they sit on tasting panels and on their armchairs. Making even a nudge in the name of progress seems to be a task herculean.
Yet, change is inevitable.
What does it mean to collaborate?
Without delving into politics (which is surely better after a round of one’s favourite tipple), I believe the answer is bringing people from different countries and backgrounds together to make greater than the sum of its parts. Some truly fascinating creations have been made in recent years thanks to a world that is becoming increasingly borderless.
The Other Room is not a speakeasy.
It has all the hallmarks of one- an unmarked door, an intimate environment and a suitably jazzy soundtrack. Yet, Dario Knox, head bartender, refuses to accept the label. It’s more of a drinking house, he asserts. Laidback, and unpretentious, it’s more about what the customer wants. A beer, a glass of wine, or whatever else draws the fancy. A place to fall in love with your favourite drink again.
A sentiment we can agree with.
I think very much that blends are not necessarily blands. Blends can be of high quality and can be full of robust, delicious flavours.
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a classic drink that, a hundred and twenty years after its invention in New Orleans, remains an essential part of the modern bartender’s repertoire.
Fans of the cocktail might be aware of the Bacardi Legacy Competition, a hunt for uncomplicated, uncontrived cocktails that can stand the test of time.
If you’re a Singaporean, you probably would have had a nice crisp piece of Indian roti prata or two. You might even have had a glass of Bandung to go with it. The incredibly sweet but flavourful rose-milk mixture helps to tame any heat from the curry that goes with the prata- both through its sweetness and the dairy content. The drink is more than a little cloying in large quantities, but is otherwise a pleasant closer to a spicy meal.
It was from that pinkish, creamy drink where I got the idea for a cocktail that I would end up making.
Cocktail Week is almost upon us, and there’s plenty to see, eat and drink. So many, in fact, that you’re not quite sure where to start. 60 participating bars and restaurants, dozens of events, and a whole slew of the whos who of international bartending can be quite overwhelming, to say the least.
Never fear, we’re here to help.
I’m a big fan of cocktails, as you can tell by now. One would consider very few of these mixed drinks to be “serious”, so they’re always more than appropriate when going out to have some fun.
It seems that many Singaporeans are too, judging by the sheer number of cocktail joints popping up over the past few years. I covered a good lot of them during last year’s Cocktail Week (here and here), and I’m glad that this year, I (and everyone else) get to once again enjoy some great drinks at very, very reasonable prices.
Like last year, bars will be serving up their best drinks and, if we’re lucky, some created specially for the occasion. Now, it’s your dollar and you should spend it however you like. If you have a favourite bar, then sitting there all week long is a great option. To really maximise the experience, why not do a little hopping around and try a few different bars? There’s plenty to see and do.
There are drinks for all rhymes and reasons, all moods and feelings. One might associate spirits with cigars, leather chairs and musty tomes in the library, and for most part they couldn’t go wrong with that. There’s also the singular experience of gulping down vodka to the scent of stale smoke, sweat and disco lights (and there’s plenty that could go wrong with that).
The third course of enjoying drink in the garden, surrounded by the smells of earth, grass and flowers, is sadly unexplored. What a pity too! There’s nothing like enjoy a long sip of a cold drink and watching the world go by.