Singapore has been fast making a name for itself as the drinking capital of South East Asia. This is in no small part thanks to the exploits of local bartenders using seasonal ingredients to elevate the taste of their unique libations. With the international cocktail scene taking keen notice of the cocktail industry in Singapore, beverage players are creating offerings with Asian flavours that are customised for the local drinkers. Here are five outstanding products that we’ll raise our glasses to.
1) Sipsmith Raffles 1915 Gin
This collaboration between Sipsmith Independent Distillers and Raffles Hotels & Resorts has its roots dating back to colonial times: Sipsmith’s co-founder Sam Galsworthy, it turns out, is the great, great, great nephew of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and after whom the Raffles Hotel chain is named.
It is a beautiful marriage of botanicals from the Malaysian Peninsula – jasmine flowers, fresh pomelo peel, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, nutmeg and cardamom – and classic botanicals that can be found in Sipsmith London Dry Gin such as juniper, coriander and orris root.
The resulting taste is a charming and full-bodied spirit, with the warmth of sweet orange spice coalesced with a sophisticated, lively, balanced finish.
2) East Imperial Yuzu Tonic
Alright, so Yuzu technically isn't quite a Singapore-inspired flavour, but the roots of East Imperial's range of best-selling tonics are as Singaporean as it gets. Kevin Law-Smith, one of the founders of East Imperial, started making traditional tonic water and ginger beer in his kitchen in a shophouse in the old neighbourhood of Chip Bee some years ago.
The Singapore connection goes even further as one of Mr Law-Smith’s great grandfathers, it turns out, was in Singapore at the turn of the century and told tales of drinking his daily tonic rations with Japanese Tansan Sparkling Water and when available, an exotic bitter citrus called yuzu, sparking off the idea behind the latest flavour in their line-up
The bold new Yuzu Tonic embodies the founders’ vision to create a range of beverages steeped in tradition, rich history and utmost quality, by showcasing unique flavours hailing from Asia.
The zestful notes found in the Yuzu Tonic pack a flavourful punch and when paired with a London Dry Gin, it will enhance your gin and tonic by giving it a vibrant flavour that can be enjoyed all year-round.
East Imperial Yuzu Tonic can be found in cocktail bars around Singapore.
3) Oh Yeah Singapore Pale Ale
The Singapore Pale Ale (S.P.A) takes inspiration from the modern city of its namesake. It marries the old-fashioned English Indian Pale Ale (IPA) with the ultra hoppy American IPA, culminating in an ale that is much smoother than its English cousin and easier on the palate than its American counterpart.
Little Island Brewing Company’s master brewer, Steve Spinney, was inspired by how Singapore is modern and traditional, and vibrant yet traditional. This resulted in a multilayered ale with an initial fruity sweetness and a dry aftertaste against a lingering bitter background.
Mr. Spinney’s version is a unique, well-balanced, equitable offspring of the original parents that mirrors the multiracial, multicultural melting pot that is Singapore.
Oh Yeah Singapore Pale Ale (S$10 a pint) is available at the Little Island Brewing Co., Block 6 Changi Village Road, #01-01/02, Singapore 509907.
4) #88 by Sunday Punch
Set up by men’s magazine editor Mark Tay and his partner Yap Hwee Jen, Sunday Punch offers cocktail bar worthy drinks that you can enjoy in the comfort of your home. The 500milliliter wax-sealed bottles, with their hand-sketched labels, contain between eight to 10 servings (depending on how heavy your hand is) that were painstakingly designed at a local cocktail bar.
#88 mixes the botanicals of London Dry Gin with a blend of Asian and tropical flavours such as pineapples, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves and a touch of extra dry French vermouth. The resulting cocktail is slightly dry, flavourful and delightfully refreshing.
#88 (S$68 per bottle) is available from drinksundaypunch.com, while stocks last.
5) The Tuckshop Edition
An Englishman, an Italian, a Frenchman and two Singaporeans, all local residents of the Geylang neighbourhood, are united by a common thread - the desire to give back to the community they have all grown to love and contribute to its rejuvenation. And thus The Tuckshop was born.
The Tuckshop believes that the term ‘local’ goes beyond just referring to someone born and bred in Singapore; it stands for someone who supports their ‘local’ neighbourhood wherever in the world they may come from.
The Tuckshop has teamed up with local brewery – Archipelago Brewery – to create a custom, uniquely locally inspired beer, evoking familiar memories and the flavours of Singapore. The Tuckshop Edition is a palatable lager-style beer with fresh calamansi juice and hints of gula melaka (brown palm sugar) that provides instant refreshment.
The Tuckshop Edition (S$10 a pint) is available at The Tuckshop, 403 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399795.Further reading: 5 delicious things you may not know about rum