With the emergence of homegrown distilleries over the past three years, we take a look at some unique flavours and offerings from local labels, and work with Adrian Besa of MO Bar (ranked 46 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars) on some cocktails that you can try shaking up at home.
And here’s a tip: Try making your own syrups, cordials, and infusions! Adrian says that it’s actually not difficult, and syrups made with natural ingredients will always taste better. All it takes is just equal parts water and sugar, combined with the ingredient of your choice over heat. “We have access to all these amazing ingredients in Asia, and the best part is they are readily available at supermarkets and markets,” he adds.
The secret to the colour-changing properties of this gin lies the Butterfly Pea flower – a commonly used ingredient in kuehs and Peranakan cuisine. Just mix it with some form of citrus to watch the rich blue hue transform into the loveliest shade of soft lilac. Brass Lion Distillery recommends that you pair this floral gin with elderflower tonic, and garnish it with grapefruit or rosemary. Or, you can try this recipe from them that also includes some bubbly…
30ml butterfly pea gin
15ml lemon juice
15ml simple syrup
45ml champagne lemon peel
1. Combine gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake till cold and strain into a champagne flute.
2. Top it off with champagne, lifting the bottle as you’re pouring to mix the drink.
3. Zest with lemon peel and serve.
The award-winning Singapore Dry Gin from Brass Lion Distillery combines classic gin botanicals with Asian ingredients like pomelo, torch ginger flowers, lemongrass, and mandarin peel. Ambitious home mixologists can try recreating this signature cocktail from MO Bar – we hear it’s gotten rave reviews from F&B insiders. It takes a fair bit of work, but we promise the delicious end result is well worth it. Or, you could save yourself the trouble and just head down to MO Bar!
Dry gin refers to a gin with no artificial flavourings or sweeteners added – the flavours you taste are all derived naturally from the botanicals used.
250ml Singapore dry gin
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp glutinous rice powder
200ml hot water
Peanut butter fat-washed gin:
1. Melt peanut butter in a pan.
2. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. As the peanut butter is cooling, add gin and mix well.
4. Leave the mixture in the freezer overnight.
5. Strain gin using a coffee filter.
Thunder tea cordial:
1. Simmer 250ml of water with coriander, basil, mint, and sugar.
2. When all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and strain.
1. Mix glutinous rice powder with 200ml hot water.
2. Stir until the powder is dissolved and the mixture thickens.
3. Pour mixture into whipped cream dispenser.
1. Mix 45ml peanut butter fat-washed gin with 25ml thunder cordial.
2. Top with rice foam and matcha powder. Serve.
Before you shake this into a cocktail, we recommend that you try it neat first – either chilled or at room temperature. This spirit is made with French Winter Wheat that’s been distilled five times, resulting in smooth vodka that makes for easy drinking. “Using our Merlion Vodka for cocktails is like using a fine 21-year-old scotch whisky for a whisky cocktail,” boasts the description on Singapore Distillery’s website. With that said, here’s a light refreshing tipple that’s perfect for blazing hot days.
45ml Merlion vodka
15ml Cocchi Americano
1 pineapple 100ml gula melaka syrup
10g five-spice powder (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, star anise, and allspice)
400ml water Prosecco
1. Juice the pineapple, setting aside the peels for later.
2. Combine water, spices, and gula melaka in a saucepan over medium hit.
3. When the gula melaka is dissolved, set the mixture aside to cool.
4. Add in pineapple peels and fresh pineapple juice.
5. Cover and set aside for 24 to 36 hours.
6. Strain and keep refrigerated.
1. Mix Merlion Vodka with 25ml pineapple tepache and 15ml Cocchi Americano.
2. Pour into glass, top up with prosecco, and serve.
Can’t function without your daily kopi? You’ll love this cheeky nod to our local brew. Compendium Spirits uses an in-house distilled rum, cold-brewing it with a blend of coffee grounds for 24 hours. The rum is then filtered through a kopi sock and sweetened with natural black sugar. Shiok.
15ml Kopi-O liqueur 45ml half and half cream
200g brown sugar
5g oolong tea
500ml bourbon whisky
200ml vegetable oil
20g all-purpose flour
300ml water Tapioca pearls for garnish
Oolong tea-infused bourbon whisky:
1. Add tea leaves to the whisky and let it steep for two to three days.
2. Strain and bottle.
Brown sugar syrup:
1. Simmer brown sugar in 200ml of water until sugar is dissolved.
Coral tuile garnish:
1. Mix vegetable oil, flour, and 100ml of water.
2. Pan-fry 45ml of the mixture on a non-stick pan.
1. Cook tapioca pearls according to packaging instructions.
2. Strain and soak pearls in whisky for 10 to 15mins.
1. Combine Kopi-O liqueur, 45ml infused bourbon whisky, 15ml brown sugar syrup, and half and half cream in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake till cold.
2. Strain into a rock glass with ice.
3. Garnish with coral tuile and whisky-infused tapioca pearls.
Count us in for anything ondeh ondeh-flavoured – from ice cream to cakes to churros. And now, we can add ondeh ondeh soju to the list. This uniquely Singapore flavour is achieved by fermenting soju from gula melaka, then distilling it with coconut and pandan leaves. Our verdict? Tastes just like the real deal.
Tip: Garnish with tebaloi (sago biscuit), a traditional snack from Sarawak.
30ml aged rum (try Bacardi Anejo Cuatro)
25ml ondeh ondeh soju
10ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
5ml gula melaka syrup
1. Combine everything in a mixing glass with ice and stir.
2. Serve over ice in a rock glass.
Coconut pandan is a flavour that is familiar to most of us, but there’s a reason why you don’t typically see this flavour in alcohol. Ashwin Sekaran, founder of Singapore Distillery, lets on that this is a tricky gin to make because pandan can taste soapy or bitter when extracted at high heat. For the adventurous, try using this sweet-tasting gin in Adrian’s chicken rice- inspired cocktail.
45ml coconut pandan gin
15ml lemon juice
5ml chicken broth
Ginger cucumber syrup:
1. Simmer ginger, cucumber, and sugar in 200ml of water until all the sugar is dissolved.
2. Strain and keep the sediments aside.
Chicken rice crisp:
1. Blend rice, chicken broth, and sediments from the ginger cucumber syrup with 200ml of water.
2. Layer into thin sheets and dehydrate.
3. Deep fry the sheets and set aside for garnishing.
1. Combine coconut pandan gin, lemon juice, and 15ml ginger cucumber syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold.
2. Pour drink into a rock glass with ice.
3. Garnish with chicken rice crisp and serve.
The OG of Singapore gins, Orchid Gin is our first locally distilled gin. It was created in 2018 by Tanglin Gin, and contains classic gin botanicals such as juniper, liquorice and angelica root. The Asian twist lies in its usage of ingredients like vanilla orchid, java pepper and amchoor (powdered unripe green mango).
45ml orchid gin
5g jasmine tea
1 lime (just the peel)
Jasmine tea strawberry cordial:
1. Cut strawberries into thin slices.
2. Combine water, sugar, jasmine tea, strawberries, and lime peel in a saucepan.
3. Bring to boil, and stir over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved.
1. Mix orchid gin with 25ml jasmine tea strawberry cordial.
2. Top up with soda water.
3. Serve with ice in a wine glass.