In­stant clas­sics stirred, sipped and all shook up

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

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.

Fol­low on Instagram: su­sankuro­sawa

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