Instant classics stirred, sipped and all shook up
Cocktails are all the rage, from Manhattan to The Maldives. Mixologists are the new hair stylists — instant celebrities, that is, with fans and followers and single, memorable names, and the pressure is enormous to create chic new drinks or give a contemporary twist to the classics. The term “signature cocktail” is everywhere, much in the way swizzle sticks were the height of cool in earlier eras.
No martini is safe from the assault of ever more unlikely ingredients. Shove aside that boring old olive or twist of lemon and go groovy with the likes of lemongrass, lychees, marmalade, chilli, chocolate, coffee or, at RIMBA in Jimbaran, Bali, gummy bears. Despite my protestations that a negroni would do just fine, my friend Marian insisted I try this sweet and slightly viscous concoction and, goodness me, it was delicious, right down to the sugary chewiness of two little bears perched on the rim.
That standard tipple of empire, the G&T, has been overtaken by gin-based cocktails and there are even specialty bars popping up, such as The Stillery at Sydney’s recently opened InterContinental Double Bay, where the likes of “torched” rosemary, celery bitters, black pepper, “clarified” gazpacho and ginger all get into the act across a range of dozens of gin brands.
Barmen the world over are no longer known by such a last-decade appellation but are considered “craftsmen”, particularly in Singapore, which used to be a tad boring but is now alive and humming with (password-protected) speakeasies, rooftop perches and cocktail lounges. Anti: Dote on the ground floor of Fairmont Singapore serves “market-fresh flavours and ingredients” of the likes of house-made aromatic bitters, tinctures and liqueurs, and mint, basil and marigolds. A Corpse Reviver, anyone?
Meantime, at Bar Stories on Singapore’s Haji Lane, customers just tell the mixologists what flavours they like (salty, sweet, sour, spicy) and a bespoke drink is crafted on the spot. On board Royal Caribbean Line’s new Quantum-class ships, there are robots at the Bionic Bar, which sounds like fun, but it’s unlikely they would line up old-fashioned whiskies and listen to your woes.
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