Singapore Cocktail Week has been given an overhaul and is now known as Singapore Cocktail Festival – which means what used to be a week-long excuse to go bar-hopping in the name of exploring creative concoctions by the city's best cocktail bars has now morphed into something grander, and also more (geographically) succinct.
Let us explain. The anchor event is now focused around an area dubbed the Festival Village, which is open only this weekend until March 19, from noon to 10pm. Admission is free, and unlike previous Cocktail Week events, there’s no need to pony up for a wristband to score promotional prices on cocktails. You pay as you go along, and the cocktails here are set at a dangerously low, flat price of $12.
What else? The village also will feature nine themed rooms, supplemented with a food street and an open-air music stage. We’re particularly excited about Snow Leopard room, where festival goers are encouraged to pick out their own ingredients from a wall of herbs ─ chocolate mint, Thai basil, tarragon, thyme, to name a few ─ and “challenge” the bartender to shake up something tasty on the spot.
At Dreams, three well-loved spirit brands – Monkey Shoulder, Hendrick's Gin, and Reyka Vodka – will explore the concept of dreams through visual, audio and sensorial stimulations; and of course, present cocktails inspired by their interpretations, like a dreamy “bubble bath” built by Reyka Vodka.
Meanwhile, the craft movement takes centrestage in the Artisanal Spirits Room, where small-batch handcrafted spirits will be showcased. Among them is Nusa Cana, a white rum inspired by Bali; and Sơn Tinh, a most intriguing Vietnamese liquor derived from sticky rice and Vietnamese herbs and fruits.
And can we say that we just love the idea behind Singapore's Next Top Cocktail Room? Over the past few months, the organisers have sounded the call for mixologists to create a tipple that encapsulates Singapore's story, and here, the four finalists will be put to the popular vote: Kopi Ol’ Fashioned by Crackerjack, Shiok Collins by Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, Lion City Sour by 28 HongKong Street and Leo’s Flip by Nutmeg & Clove.
But the Cocktail Festival is more than just the Festival Village.
There'll be bar tours (tickets at $98) departing from the Village, curated along themes like the amusing “Gin There, Done That” (self-explanatory, we reckon) and "Who Run the World”, which throws the spotlight on the women making waves in the cocktail scene.
There’ll be four stops for each tour, and of course, you’ll get to try a cocktail that the bar has created especially for the Cocktail Festival.
The guest bartending shifts have always been one of the highlights of Cocktail Week, and we’re glad the tradition’s continuing.
Some top-notch names heading our way include Aki Wang, "The Cocktail Godfather" from Taiwan, who’ll be putting together a tea-inspired Vieux Carré using Remy Martin Club Fine Champagne Cognac and fermented tea bitters; and Josh O' Brien from Brisbane's The Bowery, who’ll be shaking up a smooth Piece of Thyme with cointreau, extra dry vermouth, five-spice syrup and thyme.
There’s even a Bangkok Takeover series happening at The Wall, with three leading ladies from Bangkok’s bar scene asserting their mixologist might.
For the full schedule, check the calendar over at singaporecocktailfestival.com
Disclaimer: Actual cocktail may differ from photo.
EC Proof is one of the biggest movers and shakers in the cocktail scene (we’re indebted to them for supplying our favourite bars with a wide selection of craft spirits), and they have invited spirits experts for a series of intimate "Salon Session" at their snazzy retail outfit, The Proof Flat.
There's one hosted by Diplomatico Rum and headlined by Ian Burrell, a self-styled global rum ambassador; and another with Kia Karimi of Scrappy's Bitters on how bartenders have been using bitters to add pizzazz to cocktails. Hit up ecproof.com/pages/stay-current to chope your seat.
At Nutmeg & Clove, three of Japan’s most respected barmen – Hidetsugu Ueno, Ryu Fuji and Tsuyoshi Miyazaki will be leading a boozy seminar to talk about their favourite cocktail ingredients as well as bar trends in the land of the rising sun, so be prepared to take notes.
Nurse inebriation-induced ills AND indulge in more booze? Count us in.
Just for the duration of the Singapore Cocktail Festival, Crackerjack will be running a Recovery Brunch (now until March 22, 8am-3pm) to help you get nourished and re-energised for (yet) another night of partying.
There are two options. Naughty ($16) pairs a mezcal-based Bloody Mary with Chilaquiles, a hearty loaded tortilla that is popularly served in Mexico as brunch fare. As for Nice ($16), you get a spinach-based smoothie plus a bowl of stracciatella – a rustic Italian egg-drop soup – for which Crackerjack is amping up the comfort food factor with house-made broth, barley and kale.
And don’t worry, coffee’s included in the set, too.
But here’s the genius bit. They’ve roped in therapists from Lushspa to be on standby to give your achy neck and shoulders some TLC ─ at just $5 for a 10-minute express massage. Definitely sounds like a plan.
Circular Road will also be going full-swing into St Patrick’s Day with a street festival running all weekend until 10pm on Sunday.
Expect plenty of great craic, as they’ve roped in some of Circular Road’s best dining and drinking spots to pull out the stops for the Festival. Green’s the theme (along with Guinness), so there’ll be specially created nosh like a juicy pork burger sandwiched between matcha buns at Dojo; nasi lemak with a green sambal at Village Nasi Lemak; Guinness lamb stew at Momgambo; and layered shooters of peppermint liqueur and Baileys Irish cream at Public House.
Traditional bagpipe music is standard, of course, but there’s gonna be plenty of Irish rock & roll and dance performances.
See singapore-river.com for more details.