Flavour Changing Ice

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Flavour Changing Ice

Here’s another wrinkle that improves the fast-moving, boundary-pushing cocktail scene in Singapore – ice cubes which change the flavour of your drink as they melt.

My ‘Frozen in Time’ cocktail came with a block of ice embedded with fruit and herbs. As it melted, a succession of different tastes made the already fruity, wine-based cocktail subtly change through a series of sweet, sour and slightly bitter variations.

My only complaint was that the ice was frozen so hard I had to struggle to keep from draining my glass before I had tasted the full range of the melt-in flavours, but I suppose this is the only way they can keep the different layers in the right place as they construct the cube.

This was just one item on an amazing menu of locally inspired cocktails from Hopscotch at the Red Dot Museum. I will absolutely be back to try more…


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Drinking Ants

Singapore is currently in the throes of a cocktail revolution, with bars doing their best to outshine each other with ever more unusual offerings.

One of the latest openings is Native, which aims to source as much as possible from local or at least Asian manufacturers. This means fresh ingredients foraged from nearby, including coasters cut from leaves, ceramic drinks containers and batik edged aprons made by local artisans, and spirits originating in Asia rather than international brands. Think Thai whisky, Indian rum, and Sri Lankan arrack…

There are also the ‘shock’ additions to capture your attention. Like the TCM performance enhancing tongkat ali root whose extract is a key part of the Red Light District cocktail. Or the crunchy ants on a leaf which tops the Antz – this one served in a ceramic ‘anthill’ and including a nitro component which gives you ‘dragon’s breath’ to contend with as well as the actual ants.

Native is also a ‘secret’ bar, more or less invisible from the street unless you know which door to try and that there really is something exciting at the top of the stairs. I suspect I will be going back until I have tried everything on the menu!


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Sensorium Menu

Cocktail bars are such fun, especially here in Singapore where everyone is trying to outdo each other with new and unusual ideas.

This is from the Tippling Club, and gives you the chance to order by smell rather than from a more conventional menu. A collection of tiny, scented, strips is served up to the table stuck into a cocktail strainer, which is amusing enough in itself.

Each strip is printed with a generic description, and is embedded with the scent of the cocktail it represents. If you need more clues, some outline of the ingredients is on the back, but in fairly vague terms. You will, however, be able to tell what the base spirit is going to be (handy if you don’t for example, want to end up with gin).

The premise is that scents can trigger strong flashbacks, as they travel down the olfactory nerve near those parts of the brain which store memories and emotions, and which are linked to associative learning. And as about 80% of the flavour we experience comes from what we sense with the nose rather than the tongue, all this makes perfect sense as a concept to play with.

This series of cocktails, which are served with humour and style, have apparently been created in collaboration with International Flavours and Fragrances, a company which specialises in innovative sensory experiences.

Here we had a ‘grass’, which was based on tequila with citrus and herbs, plus a ‘caramel’ in which the rum and salted caramel were marvellous in themselves, but thoroughly enhanced by the addition of an old fashioned lollipop. I will be back for more of these!


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Singapore Sling Marmalade

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I’m not terribly partial to marmalade but I have been known to down the occasional Singapore Sling, and besides, the box was very pretty. So this was a no-brainer for Christmas guests keen to try everything Singapore has to offer.

The original Sling, of course, was created in 1915 at the Raffles Hotel, and contains all sorts of tropical fruit flavours as well as the cherry which gives it its deep pink colour.

Straits Preserves have managed to capture the fruity taste pretty well, so although there is (sadly) no alcohol in there, it is very like the original cocktail. I would not have called it marmalade, however, which means I am likely to eat this even if my guests don’t.

According to the packaging, this is also good in tea, with cheese, or as a glaze for roasting. Very versatile, which perhaps justifies the S$15 price tag.

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Light Up Menu

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I know I am not the only person who has trouble reading menus in the dark. By this I usually mean the menus you get at dimly lit cocktail bars, where I apparently cause no end of embarrassment to my daughters by using the flashlight on my phone.

Imagine my delight in Bangkok, at the Moon Bar on the 61st floor roof of the Banyan Tree Hotel, when presented with a menu that lit up. I have no idea how the technology behind this works, only that the pages sprang to life as the covers opened, and my only problem then was choosing what to order.


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Afternoon Tea with a Twist

Category : Food

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Cocktails in glass teapots instead of tea! This is such a wonderful idea, it hardly matters that the food was – although perfectly nice – less than enthralling by comparison. This was a really delightful Mother’s Day treat at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore.

I chose the Ginger R from the Diva cocktail collection, which included vodka, passionfruit and mint, and was both zingy and refreshing. Most of the cocktails offered with this afternoon tea contain droplets of natural flavours, which according to the menu were created by Javier de las Muelas from the award winning Dry Martini bar in Barcelona.


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