Lifestyle

4 new specialty bars to check out

Imagine sipping on The Godfather - and no, we don’t mean the terrifying character from the iconic film, but a dynamic fusion between whisky and amaretto. Intrigued? Find more zesty drinks in these 4 new specialty bars in Singapore
 

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1. D.BESPOKE

What: A Ginza-style bar and retail space that prides itself on quality service and craftsmanship. D.Bespoke cocktail bar gets its name from co-owner and head bartender - the D stands for Daiki Kanetaka - a Japanese transplant who cut his teeth at famed Tokyo bars Star Bar Ginza and Bar High Five, where he worked with world-renowned bartender Hidetsugu Ueno.

The emphasis is on attention to detail - right down to the measured slicing of ice blocks used in the cocktails - and his flawless technique as he pours sherry using a venencia, a long-handled tool traditionally used to pull samples of sherry from barrels.

A small retail space, which doubles as an anteroom for the 28-seat bar, sells artisanal Japanese craft products including cocktail glassware, porcelain and ceramic tea ware, and bespoke leather goods.

Cocktails: Try a variety of sherry, calvados (apple brandy) or armagnac (French brandy) by ordering tasting flights, which offer three to five glasses of the spirit.

Mr Kanetaka is a trained veneciador (a sherry sommelier), so it is no surprise that D.Bespoke stocks 30 to 40 types of Spanish sherry. The bar also has an extensive selection of calvados and armagnac.

Try any of the three cocktails - The Godfather (whisky and amaretto), negroni (gin, bitters and vermouth) and rusty nail (drambuie liqueur and Scotch) - that Mr Kanetaka is currently ageing in sherry oak barrels. If you are feeling adventurous, pick a base spirit and tell the bartender your preferred strength and taste of drink, and he will concoct one for you.

Bar bites: Cocktails are served with complimentary nibbles such as dried fruit and nuts including dried sweet cherry tomatoes. You can order a cold cut platter of premium Spanish jamon iberico, carved from a whole leg of ham at the bar by Mr Kanetaka himself, and a selection of salami.

Where: 2 Bukit Pasoh Road

Operating hours: Monday to Saturday 6pm to 12am (last order at 11.30pm), closed on Sunday

Prices: From $27 for cocktails, tasting flights from $25, and $30 for cold cut and cheese platters. There is a minimum spend of $60 a person.

Tel: 8141-5741

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Baby eel paper at Joo.

2. JOO

What: This three-storey shophouse bar is the only place in town offering home-brewed organic makgeolli (Korean rice wine) served on tap and modern Korean bites or anju (Korean snacks typically served with alcohol). Joo gets its name from the Korean term for alcohol "ju".

The owners, who also run Korean barbecue restaurant Eight Korean BBQ at The Central, want to offer an experience similar to the makgeolli bars in South Korea. There is also a selection of Japanese whiskeys, wines, champagne, and German and Korean beer. It is a casual bar with drinks at affordable prices.

Cocktails: The owners give traditional makgeolli and soju (distilled white spirit made from rice) a twist by using the alcohol as the base spirit for cocktails, such as the grape or lime soju mojito ($12 for a glass, $22 for small jug and $36 for large jug).

Those tasting makgeolli for the first time can try the makgeolli sampler ($35). You get a cup of the bar's home brew and four types of makgeolli infused with ingredients such as black raspberry, yucha (yuzu citrus), mango and strawberry.

A must-try is the Yucha Makgeolli Slush ($22 for small jug and $36 for large jug), a light, frozen alcoholic drink flavoured with citrus, which tastes somewhat similar to a 7-Eleven Slurpee.

Bar bites: Conceptualised by head chef Kim Chang Heon are unusual bar snacks such as Baby Eel Paper ($12), which are deepfried sheets of eel served with chilli salt and lime zest, and tofu chips with guacamole and kimchi salsa ($12).

Joo Bossam ($28) is Hungarian Mangalica pork boiled with doenjang (fermented bean paste), served with yucha vinegar pickled cabbage and a spicy radish salad.

Where: 5 Tan Quee Lan Street

Operating hours: Daily, 5.30pm to 12 midnight

Prices: From $7 for a bottle of home-brewed organic makgeolli. Bar bites from $12

Tel: 8138-1628

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3. ELIXIR

What: Elixir bar is part of Kuvo, a multiconcept food and beverage venue that houses a wine lounge, restaurant, bar and gift shop in a 9,000 sq ft space.

It is headed by Japanese bartender Yutaka Nakashima, who has more than 16 years of experience as a bartender and chef. He was previously with Japanese watering hole Coffee Bar K in UE Square.

Although the use of fresh fruit and herbs in cocktails is not new here, he executes it well in the way he balances his drinks and how he presents them, garnishing them with items such as candy canes, and salt and crushed ice on the outside of the glass. He also uses unexpected ingredients such as blue cheese in his cocktails.

This bar is a breath of fresh air from the plethora of beer pubs in Somerset. Patrons can also order food from the restaurant (Ambrosia) and wine from the lounge (Vine Lounge) to be served at the bar.

Cocktails: The cocktails on the standard bar menu tend to be lighter in terms of alcohol strength, but you can ask the bartender for something stronger.

Those with a sweet tooth may enjoy the Mt Berry cocktail (vodka, elderflower liqueur, strawberry, honey, egg white and dried rose buds; $21), while drinkers who prefer something more refreshing can opt for the limelight (rum, Cointreau, lemongrass, lime, orange and brown sugar; $21).

During this festive period, ask for Mr Nakashima's Christmas cocktail ($22), which mixes Italian sparkling wine, Midori, lychee liqueur, apple juice, cranberry jello and a lime juice reduction infused with cinnamon and vanilla for 12 hours. He also makes a mean negroni cocktail that has sweet and dry vermouth ($22).

Bar bites:The Kuvo Coffee Hot Wings ($14) is a healthier alternative  to the traditional deepfried chicken wings served at bars and comes with a blue cheese dip.

The Crisp Iberico Pork Belly ($26) is a hearty snack of pork belly confit with crispy skin, drizzled with spicy balsamic and served with a mango chutney. For lighter snacks, try the crispy Prosciutto Wrapped Fresh Figs ($16), bite-sized morsels stuffed with blue cheese and arugula.

Where: 02-01 Orchard Shopping Centre (entrance next to the House of Robert Timms), 321 Orchard Road

Operating hours: Sunday to Thursday, 5pm to 1am, Friday, Saturday and eve of public holiday, 5pm to 2am

Prices: Standard cocktails from $21, bespoke cocktails from $22. Light snacks from $10

Tel: 6733-8272

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4. COPPER SINGAPORE

What: A 320 sq ft gin speciality bar that currently stocks more than three dozen varieties of the spirit, including small-batch labels Death's Door Gin, Ransom Old Tom Gin and The Botanist Gin.

There are no fancy bespoke cocktails made by a trained mixologist. The bartenders will recommend you a gin with tonic, or served in a martini.

Owners Cindy Chng, 37, and Alexis Nicosia, 33, say the name is inspired by the metal used as a culinary element. "Think hot, rust, amber tones, loud and noisy," they say.

The bar is on the ground floor of the shophouse and the owners say a restaurant specialising in grilled meats will open upstairs by early next year.

Cocktails: From Monday to Wednesday, the bar has a $10 gin and tonic promotion featuring a different gin each week. The bar has about a dozen types of gin infused with different ingredients such as bay leaves, cinnamon, apricot and roasted almond. You can ask for the infused spirits to be made into a cocktail of your liking, with prices upon request.

Bar bites: The owners recommend the Veal Sweetbread Nugget ($20) and the Sweet & Tangy Balls (Angus beef meatballs with grape jelly passata, $18). There are also deepfried bar snacks such as Crispy Pig's Ear ($18) and Spam & Frites ($9).

Where: 10 Jiak Chuan Road

Operating hours: Monday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight. Closed on Sunday

Prices: $10 gin and tonic from Monday to Wednesday, average price of cocktails about $18, bar snacks from $9

Info: facebook.com/Coppersingapore

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on December 18, 2014. For similar stories, go to http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
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