Gin is the backbone of most classic cocktails – martinis, negronis, vespers and gimlets – though it’s never acquired the same shine as its more prolific cousin, whisky. But that’s changing, with gin now poised to become a bona fide superstar.
Here’s the shot-list of what to try and where.
This article was first published in the May 2017 issue of Her World.
Level 1 JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, 30 Beach Road
The place: Tucked in a corner of JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach is Tonic, a bar constantly on the lookout for gins to grow its burgeoning collection. Tonic boasts some of the most unique labels, like Iron Balls from a Bangkok micro-distillery.
The drink: This cocktail gets its rosy hue from pink guava juice, balanced with Pimm’s No.1, triple sec, and Bombay Sapphire gin. Dried rosebuds make an elegant garnish.
The drink: The unusual inky blue comes from butterfly pea flowers. What’s even cooler: It’s pH-sensitive, which means it turns blush pink when it interacts with tonic water. It’s one tasty gin – the juniper is spicy, with a noticeable hit of coriander and rich lemon.
Level 1 Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road
The place: The newest and grandest player in this game is Atlas, an Art Deco-inspired lounge that boasts an incredible selection of more than 1,000 types of gin.
The drink: The bar’s signature drink is a London Dry gin and dry vermouth, finished with a lemon twist. A whiff of citrus envelops the drink from the moment you pick it up, and lingers as you sip. Turns out the cocktail glass is perfumed with pomelo zest.
The drink: The sunny colour and honeyed notes come from Persian quince, a bright yellow, pear-like fruit that boasts a heady vanilla and citrus fragrance. It also uses African botanicals such as baobab and cape gooseberry. The quince gin works as a G&T, but its full-bodied sweetness makes it a great dessert wine too.
Level 2 Regent Singapore, a Four Seasons Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road
The place: This wood-panelled hotel bar has 40 gin varieties, and the cocktail menu is a lot about giving classics a modern spin.
The drink: This fruity, delicately spiced cocktail has Small’s Gin, pineapple juice, lemon juice, apricot brandy, grapefruit bitters and homemade syrup. It was also crowned winner of the SG50 Toast to the Nation contest in 2015, which sought to find the drink that best encapsulates the Singapore spirit.
The drink: This comes from Suff olk, England, and is a tribute to its place of birth. The gin is distilled using barley from local farms, and steeped in rare local botanicals like rock samphire, wood avens, and bog myrtle foraged from the coast. You can almost smell and taste the rugged land in it. Best drunk on the rocks.
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5 Ann Siang Road
The place: Customers at this cosy British gastropub can create bespoke G&Ts from a selection of 24 gins. The bar grows its own herbs for cocktail garnishes.
The drink: Kick back with a cuppa, but be warned that this packs a greater punch than your usual pot of tea. Earl Grey tea-infused Hendrick’s Gin meets the acidic tang of fresh lemon and grapefruit bitters.
The drink: Finnish rye-based gin is aged in American oak, and the usual juniper traits take a back seat to vanilla, ripe plum and honey. Enjoy it neat like a whisky, or even in an Old Fashioned.
#01-02 Oasia Hotel Downtown, 100 Peck Seah Street
The place: This bar has a diverse collection of gin, working out to some 120 labels. What’s interesting is its G&Tea cocktails. These tea-inspired riff s on the classic gin and tonic are a base of Bluecoat Dry Gin or Bluecoat Barrel Reserve, mixed with tonic water and a citrus tea blend.
The drink: This one-of-akind cocktail is topped with foam made from ground coffee and East Imperial Burma Tonic Water. The bubbles rest on G’Vine Floraison Gin (distilled from grapes and infused with vine flowers) and a blackberry shrub (a vinegar-based syrup).
The drink: This is the brainchild of gin connoisseur Henrik Hammer, who teamed up with his chemist father. Geranium Gin is indisputably a London Dry – opening with a big juniper bouquet. And of course, as the name suggests, geranium is a key ingredient, which adds softness to the fi nish. Incredibly smooth and elegant.