Secret Bar/Secret Menu

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Secret Bar/Secret Menu

There is always something different and quirky on the cocktail scene in Singapore. It might be stumbling onto a secret bar, discovering an amazing new combination of ingredients at an old favourite, or perhaps there’s some fascinating twist in the presentation that gives you pause.

The Library was one of the original secret bars here, and it tries to keep things fresh by regularly changing the look of the ‘shop’ through which you go (if you can find the password) on your way inside.

It isn’t so secret anymore, although the atmosphere and the cocktails are just as great. What makes it special right now is the trouble you have deciphering the menu.

At first it just looks like pages of random and meaningless squiggles. You have to pay attention to the cover, and pull apart what looks to be a decorative plastic edging but is actually the key to the code.

A bit like half the special glasses you need to watch a 3D movie, the red plastic strip makes the letters hidden on the page stand out, and suddenly all becomes clear and everyone is laughing.

I love this place, and cannot wait to see what they come up with next.


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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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Light Up Menu

menu

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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