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Singapore Cocktail Week is twice as big, with food pairing events and workshops

Singapore Cocktail Week widens its scope to include more food events, with restaurants, bars and a kopitiam as venues

Singapore Cocktail Week used to take place in bars, but this year, it is expanding to restaurants and even a coffee shop.

Cocktails in a kopitiam? You heard right.

With a team of bartenders, head bartender Steve Leong of Tess Bar & Kitchen will set up a standalone bar at Holland Village Food Court for one night on March 18, to create drinks inspired by local delicacies.

These include Crab Those Buns, a tequila-based cocktail stirred up with chilli crab paste and served with a mantou bun on the side. The drink will be served in a condensed milk tin.

Then there is also Seah Street Power Nasi Lemak, a gin-based drink made with pandan and coconut essence-infused barley water, served in a glass kopi mug.

In its second year now and running from March 12 to 19, Singapore Cocktail Week is getting bigger, foodier and more creative.

  • BOOK IT/ SINGAPORE COCKTAIL WEEK

    WHERE: Various bars and restaurants islandwide

    WHEN: March 12 to 19

    ADMISSION: A set of passes at $38 for full access to all eight days of Singapore Cocktail Week parties and pop-up bars, discounts and signature cocktails at $14++ at participating bars. Early-bird discount of 15 per cent off passes valid till Feb 28

    INFO: www.singapore cocktailweek.com.sg

There are more than 200 events and 60 participating bars and restaurants – twice the number of participants last year as well as a greater diversity of collaborators.

Dine-in-the-dark restaurant Nox in Beach Road is rolling out a special cocktail-tasting event, for example, so you can sip mystery drinks in complete darkness.

Contemporary Cantonese restaurant Mitzo is having a cocktail-cum-dim sum brunch on the weekend, introducing three tea-infused cocktails with traditional Chinese medicine ingredients, such as chrysanthemum, so that daytime boozing can be done, well, healthily.

Besides food-pairing events, there will be guest shifts by international bartenders, bar tours and cocktail workshops.

For the home bartender, some of the entry-level workshops will be good places to gain practical knowledge about spirits and learn how to mix a mean drink.

These include a women-only tasting session of American whiskies at The Flagship on March 16, as well as a workshop teaching participants how to craft 50 cocktails with eight essential spirits and liquors at Jigger & Pony on March 19.

There are also spirit-specific workshops on liquors, such as the trendy South American brandy pisco and mezcal, a smoky spirit from Mexico, as well as bar staples such as vodka, gin and rum.

Advanced workshops are also available.

For example, Meat Smith in Telok Ayer Street is conducting a whisky-centric workshop covering a range of techniques, such as fat-washing, the process of drawing out the salt and smoky flavour of food such as bacon or brisket so that it can be infused into a cocktail.

Some workshops are free, while others cost up to $150 to attend.

Those who want a party with their cocktails can head to several fun, themed events too.

These include a pop-up at the third-floor cocktail bar Studio 1939 at Potato Head Folk in Keong Saik Road from March 16 to 19, featuring bespoke Absolut Elyx vodka cocktails, and a one-off Murder Mystery Night featuring Hendrick’s gin cocktails at The Powder Room in Cecil Street on March 14.


Food pairings

MYSTERY TIPPLES IN THE DARK - BLIND TASTING FLIGHT OF FOUR COCKTAILS

Where: Nox - Dine In The Dark, 269 Beach Road

When: March 13 to 17, four one-hour sessions from 6pm, with the last seating at 9pm

Admission: $50 for members of the public, 10 per cent discount for Singapore Cocktail Week wristband holders

Known for its dine-in-the-dark concept, Nox will host a special cocktail event led by head bartender Thomas Sobata.

He will serve four classic unnamed cocktails to diners who have to rely purely on their senses of touch and taste to identify the drink.

There are no prizes for right guesses, but in the end, the drinks will be revealed and their history explained.

Cocktails will change on a daily basis with no repetitions. Only 12 people can be hosted in each time slot.

MEZCAL APPRECIATION 

Where: Super Loco, 01-13 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay

When: March 19, 3 to 5pm 

Admission: $35 (maximum of 30 participants)

Led by The Loco Group's executive chef Jason Jones, this workshop will explore the history and properties of tequila's exotic cousin, mezcal.

Also sample some of Mexico's most exceptional agave spirits, including the artisanal pechuga - which is mezcal redistilled with raw chicken breast.

The two-hour session will look into how these spirits can be used in cocktails and Mexican cooking.


Pop-up bars

JIO YOU COCKTAIL CLUB

Where: Holland Village Food Court, 33 Lorong Liput

When: March 18, 7 to 11pm

Admission: Free entry, drinks at $15++ (maximum capacity of 100 people at a time)

With a team of bartenders, head bartender Steve Leong of Tess Bar & Kitchen will take over Holland Village Food Court for one night to create drinks inspired by Singapore delicacies at a standalone stall. These include Crab Those Buns, a tequila-based cocktail with chilli crab paste and served with a mantou bun on the side, and Seah Street Power Nasi Lemak, a gin-based drink made with pandan and coconut essence-infused barley water.

ELYX HOUSE @ POTATO HEAD FOLK

Where: Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road

When: March 16 to 19, 6pm to midnight

Admission: Free (maximum capacity of 60 people)

Vodka brand Absolut Elyx is setting up a pop-up space at cocktail bar Studio 1939, located on the third floor of Potato Head Folk, to launch a range of bespoke Elyx cocktails in the brand’s distinct copper pineapple cups and punch bowls.

Featured cocktails, at $14++, have a tropical bent. They include Asian Spice Trade, made with pandan syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, lemongrass and cayenne pepper, as well as Ka Ka Manis, which includes ingredients such as gula melaka and kalamansi juice, all topped with pineapple amarena foam.


Cocktail workshops

50 CLASSICS FROM AN EIGHT-BOTTLE BAR

Where: Jigger & Pony, 101 Amoy Street

When: March 19, 6 to 8pm

Admission: $58 (maximum of 16 participants)

Mr Aki Eguchi, 33, Jigger & Pony's bar programme director, describes this workshop as a "quick start guide" to setting up a basic home bar.

Participants will learn how to create 50 classic and signature cocktails, including a Manhattan, negroni and mojito, using a base of eight spirits and liqueurs - cognac, gin, rum, aperitif, orange liqueur, blended Scotch, bourbon and vermouth.


Red Eye Gravy (above) is a whisky-based cocktail that will be served at Meat Smith. PHOTOS: MEAT SMITH

WHISKEY TECHNIQUES AT HOME

Where: Meat Smith, 167 Telok Ayer Street

When: March 17, 6 to 7.30pm

Admission: $71 nett (maximum of 16 participants)

Catering to slightly more experienced cocktail enthusiasts, this whisky-centric workshop covers a range of techniques, such as fat-washing, the process of drawing out the salt and flavour of food such as bacon or brisket so that the tastes can be infused into a cocktail; and smoking, the process of infusing a smoky flavour into whiskey.

The class will also explore how to balance the different components of spirit, sugar and bitters to make a perfect whisky-based cocktail such as a Sazerac or an Old Fashioned.


Brunch and dinner

REDEFINING THE YUM CHA EXPERIENCE

Where: Mitzo, Level 4 Grand Park Orchard, 270 Orchard Road

When: March 12, 13 and 19, 11.30am to 2.30pm (last order)

Admission: $118++ for public, Singapore Cocktail Week pass-holders get a 10 per cent discount at $100++ (including food and free flow of selected cocktails)


Enjoy tea-infused cocktails at Mitzo as you feast on more than 40 kinds
of Cantonese dishes and dim sum. PHOTO: MITZO

Have a boozy yum cha experience at contemporary Cantonese restaurant Mitzo, which is having a buffet-style event pairing cocktails and food.

Go with an empty stomach as you can order unlimited servings of more than 40 kinds of Cantonese dishes and dim sum.

Meanwhile, six different kinds of cocktails will be available free flow from the bar, including three new concoctions with traditional Chinese medicine ingredients.

One is called Brilliant Stardust, made with a gin-infused chrysanthemum tea base, ginger syrup, lemon juice and a hint of rose water, topped with aromatic apple soda.

The more adventurous can make their own drinks at the DIY station, where there is a step-by-step guide.

SUGARHALL RUM DINNER FEATURING COCKTAILS BY JIM MEEHAN (PDT NY )

Where: Sugarhall, 102 Amoy Street

When: March 16, 7pm

Admission: $120++ (maximum of 16 people)

This four-course rum-inspired feast features dishes such as Kurobuta pork secreto (a "secret cut" of the pig's best part selected by the butcher) with grilled pineapple and edamame, and grilled figs with honey and rum mascarpone.

Each course is paired with speciality cocktails by cocktail ace Jim Meehan, founder of New York's famed PDT or Please Don't Tell, which is often cited as one of the world's best bars.

HENDRICK'S MURDER MYSTERY NIGHT

Where: The Powder Room, 19 Cecil Street

When: March 14 , 7 to 10pm

Admission: $100++ (maximum capacity of 30 people)

Solve a murder while sipping on gin-based tipples by Ms Tasha Lu, who is the brand ambassador for Hendrick's in South-east Asia.

Guests are invited to come dressed in 1920s-style outfits and will receive an envelope at the start of the evening before a "murder" occurs. They will then mingle over cocktails and canapes to investigate who the murderer might be, all the while being fed evidence by an investigator.

Ms Lu says the cocktails are created to highlight rose and cucumber, both of which are infused in Hendrick's gin.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Cocktail workshops'. Print Edition | Subscribe