One of the best nightlife spots in Asia is Singapore. The island nation is known for business but they also house five of the World’s 50 Best Bars and 15 of Asia’s Best Bars in 2018. I haven’t had the chance to try out their entertainment scene but I got to try out some of their drinks when the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) hosted an evening infused with the Singapore spirit.
At Run Rabbit Run (a sister bar of the popular Bitters & Love in Singapore) in Poblacion, we got to experience some of the country’s unique drinks.
I attended a gin appreciation class with Brass Lion Distillery, where we tried their line of gins. There’s the classic Singapore Dry with Asian flavors, the Butterfly Pea with its lavender top note, and the Pahit Pink’s bold flavor. The Singapore Dry is for those who like the standard spirit, while the Butterfly Pea is perfect for drinkers with an adventurous palate. I enjoyed the Pahit Pink the most, especially its citrus flavors.
I also got to try making a Singapore Sling, the iconic gin-based cocktail developed by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel. I didn’t realize it was that complicated! I didn’t achieve the desired froth (I didn’t shake the concoction vigorously enough), but it tasted good because I personally made it.
Perhaps my favorite drink during the afternoon was the Kaya Toast, a cocktail inspired by one of Singapore’s staple snacks. Naz Arjuna, Bitters & Love’s head bartender (and one of the Top 25 Bartenders in Singapore) served up a drink topped with kaya toast, a sandwich with jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. You get a drink and a treat!
Capping off a boozy afternoon and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Philippine relations, I got to sample a special drink called the Nonya Confessions, a cocktail combining much-loved treats from both countries: Singapore’s dessert ondeh ondeh (rice cake filled with liquid palm sugar and coated in grated coconut) and the Philippines’ dalandan. Quite an interesting drink that I’ll remember in the years to come.
To make it even more exciting, STB even hosted a contest with Drink Manila, where the winners will get to fly to experience the Singapore Cocktail Festival (SGCF), the biggest cocktail showcase and celebration in Southeast Asia. The event, happening from May 10 to 18, will see drink makers and lovers from all over the world attending pop-ups, tastings, competitions, masterclasses, and more.