Verdict is out on Singapore's best gin and tonic

Bartender Nick Haas used Germany’s Monkey 47 gin, Fee Brothers’ grapefruit bitters and East Imperial’s Burma Tonic for the winning concoction. -- PHOTO: TIME OUT SINGAPORE
Bartender Nick Haas used Germany’s Monkey 47 gin, Fee Brothers’ grapefruit bitters and East Imperial’s Burma Tonic for the winning concoction. -- PHOTO: TIME OUT SINGAPORE

Winning concoction inspired by drink popular among 19th- century sailors. It contains bitters to help with seasickness

The Cufflink Club at Jiak Chuan Road has won official bragging rights for serving the best gin and tonic in town.

The cocktail bar's head bartender, Nick Haas, 27, beat 14 other local bartenders at the annual East Imperial Gin Jubilee competition here with his rendition of the classic cocktail.

Haas' winning concoction, which uses Germany's Monkey 47 gin, Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters and East Imperial's Burma Tonic, is inspired by the Pink Gin, a drink popular among sailors in the British Royal Navy in the mid-19th century.

The American bartender says a dash of angostura bitters would be added to a gin and tonic to help with seasickness, and the bitters were also used to ward off mosquitoes when the crew was in South-east Asia. The angostura would change the colour of the drink to pink, hence the name.

"Instead of angostura bitters, I went for grapefruit bitters. Not only does it play well with the subtle bitter fruit tones in the gin, but when paired with the bold, bitter and assertive tonic, it helps tie the entire drink together for a refreshing and crisp twist on a gin and tonic," he says.

Mr Kevin Law-Smith, 44, the founder of local craft tonic label East Imperial, says of the winning cocktail: "The simplicity of what he has put together - it gives super pop to the gin and tonic. It's taking it to the next level."

Haas' winning cocktail will be served at the VIP Singapore Tourism Board suites during the F1 Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.

In its second year, the East Imperial Gin Jubilee seeks out the best variations of the cocktail as created by leading bartenders in Singapore.

This year, participating bartenders included Kamil Foltan of Tippling Club, Tom Hogan of Anti:dote at Fairmont Singapore, Ricky Paiva of Regent Singapore's Manhattan bar and Edwin Poh of Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall.

Last week, bargoers were invited to vote for their favourite gin and tonic creations on Instagram and East Imperial's Facebook page.

Among some of the creative concoctions whipped up were Foltan's gin and tonic, which used Tanqueray 10 gin and a shot of espresso.

Paiva crafted his with oolong tea, yellow chartreuse, lemongrass, coriander leaf and Citadelle Reserve gin, which is solera-aged to reference Manhattan's rickhouse.

The rickhouse is a space where Paiva ages spirits in American oak barrels. Solera-ageing is a process in which cocktails or spirits are stored in barrels, and fractions of the contents of the oldest barrels are mixed with contents from the newer barrels to create house blends.

Mr Law-Smith says he decided to have an annual competition as "there are so many new bars and so many new bartenders, both local and international. And there are new gins on the market".

He adds: "With fantastic talent in the community, the Jubilee allows us to see the new bars and bartenders, and to showcase gin."

While Haas' drink is not on The Cufflink Club's menu, he says patrons can ask for it at the bar. The price is upon request.

melk@sph.com.sg