Singapore cocktails: The city’s coolest bars that make drinks inspired by local flavours such as chrysanthemum tea, kaya and spiced ginger

Mitzo

These watering holes place our city in the spotlight with locally foraged ingredients, homegrown produce and cocktails that pay homage to our sunny island

So you’ve a couple of friends coming to town, and apart from taking them to the best restaurants, you’re going to bar hop around the city, with the idea of having them try some local cocktails (and not just the Singapore Sling). Not too long ago, our little island nation’s mixology spotlight was cast on speakeasy-style watering holes.

Today though, the bar scene is progressing faster than anyone can stir up a dirty martini. From bespoke inventive cocktails to barrel-aged libations, we are now also home and inspiration for several bartenders whose focus is on local produce and flavours. Perhaps it’s all come full circle; perhaps there’s really nothing quite like home.

Chuan at The Sixtieth

Perched atop UOB Plaza 1 with a panoramic view of the city skyline, Chuan is the highest craft cocktail bar in Singapore. It adjoins Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurant, which not only supports it with a full-fledged culinary team that dishes up Sichuan and Cantonese dishes, but also provides inspiration for the bar’s drinks programme. In fact, ingredients that often appear in the drinks here include wolfberries, Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese tea, and even chilli powder.

One of the signatures here is the Silk Road. Aptly named, it’s silky smooth. The cocktail is assembled with Cognac, Amaretto, maple syrup, orange juice, dry orange flakes, and soy milk made by the restaurant’s chefs.

“My inspiration mainly comes from the ingredients available from the restaurant, many of which I encounter all the time,” quips head bartender Gabriel Li, adding that his familiarity with the ingredients allows him to translate them into drinks. “By employing the use of these ingredients, I aim to showcase creativity in drinks that aren’t just balanced and tasty but also serve as great conversation starters.”

Chuan at The Sixtieth
#60-01
UOB Plaza 1
80 Raffles Place
Singapore 048624
Tel: +65 6535 6006

Mitzo

The folks at Mitzo take their drinks seriously, evidenced from the restaurant’s cocktail menu which features a curated selection of drinks that pay homage to local traditions. We reckon that Whisky Sour fans would appreciate one of the signature cocktails here, Empress Sours, a lip-smacking Asian interpretation of the classic drink. Here, whisky is substituted with chrysanthemum-infused cognac, and infused with Abuelo rum, Licor 43, aphrodite bitters, lemon juice, egg white and goji berry syrup. Try to snag the best seats in the house when you’re here for a drink; they’re right by the Cocktail Atelier where you’ll find a stunning three-metre jellyfish tank acting as a backdrop.

Mitzo
Level 4
Grand Park Orchard
270 Orchard Road
Singapore 238857

Tel: +65 6603 8855

Nutmeg & Clove

Established in 2014, Nutmeg & Clove occupies a heritage shophouse in the enclave of Ann Siang, a precinct that used to be planted with clove and nutmeg. Drawing heavily from the republic’s past, the bar programme traces Singapore’s development from colonial outpost to modern metropolis.

“Nutmeg & Clove has always been heavily inspired by Singapore’s rich history,” shares founder and principal bartender Colin Chia. “Our current menu is inspired by the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, which Farquhar commissioned a group of Chinese artists to work on during his tenure as British Resident and Commandant of Melaka. Every cocktail from our menu is made using herbs, spices, flora, or fruits that I have selected from the book.”

Long Live Bubble Tea, for one, is one of the bar’s signature concoctions inspired by the nation’s all-time favourite drink, bubble tea. The tipple mixes floral tea notes of chrysanthemum and oolong with rejuvenating notes of Hendricks Gin, with ‘adults only’ pearls that take the form of Aperol orange pearls.

Nutmeg & Clove
10 Ann Siang Hill
Singapore 069789
Tel: +65 93899301

Opus Bar & Grill

More than just a renowned steakhouse that serves up some of the city’s most gratifying meat cuts, Opus Bar & Grill in Hilton Singapore is also lauded for its delectable, Asian-inspired tipples. The Kaya Toast Martini is easily a crowd favourite here amongst locals; the signature drink is an interesting mix of Ketel One Vodka, kaya jam, barley water and lemon juice. Durian lovers shouldn’t call it a night without trying the Durian, where Ron Zacapa 23 dark rum is infused with butterscotch, passion fruit and durian ice cream.

Opus Bar & Grill
Lobby level
Hilton Singapore
581 Orchard Road
Singapore 238883
Tel: +65 6730 3390

Origin

Sited at the Lobby Level of Shangri-La Hotel’s Tower Wing, Origin is one of the latest additions to Singapore’s cocktail bars. The outfit is headed by Slovakian Adam Bursik, who spent time immersing himself in local produce in order to create a heritage-inspired cocktail menu that pays homage to our city’s key districts of Orchard, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay, Marina Bay and even Buona Vista — this entailed sourcing for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices that represent each district.

The fruit of his labour (pun fully intended) can be seen in the signature namesake cocktail The Origin, which involves an intricate recipe and process. “We start by preparing our own spiced pineapple marmalade, in which we use pepper and nutmeg to spice local pineapples/bananas.”

The Origin pays homage to the Orchard district, where back in the days pepper and nutmeg could be found planted in the vicinity, Bursik adds. “It also represents the heritage and history of Orchard Road, the origin location of our bar. Sugar cane honey represents the family that started our company Shangri-La, who owns sugar cane plantations, and Mr Robert Kuok is also well-known as Asia’s Sugar King. The spirit of choice was gin, which represents the British colonial era that helped to develop Singapore.”

Origin
22 Orange Grove Road
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
Singapore 258350
Tel: +65 6213 4595

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