Mixologists have long delighted in the depth and character that spices provide. We discover the island’s best spice-infused cocktails for the booziest kick!
Spices. You have seen them inscribed in history books, stored in kitchen cabinets, and sprinkled into curries. But did you know that they also comprise a number of your favourite cocktails? A few decades ago, the art of adding spices to drinks was known only to the intrepid few. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a bar menu without them. Indeed, bartenders across the globe have relied on the varied, distinctive, and versatile nature of spices to elevate their creations. And whether it is star anise or coriander, infused into syrups or muddled directly into the cup, we can guarantee that, once you try, you’ll never return to a spice-free night out.
1. MO BAR
Mandarin Oriental’s luxurious and not-so-hidden secret, MO Bar, debuts its newest menu series – an homage to the rich culture of Asia’s ports. On its website, you will find an interactive cocktail menu in the form of a navigator, bringing thirsty customers through the trading routes that once saw an endless odyssey of merchants, mercenaries, and goods. The Journey cocktail, inspired by the Manila, is a simple pleasure of gin, citrus, and spices. In particular, coriander seeds bring a hint of toasty sweetness that complements the acidic base.
For more information, visit mandarinoriental.com
Amrith has certainly proven worthy of its Michelin-starred patron, Song of India. Veteran bartenders Mark Tay and Edwin Poh bring an inventive, locally inspired menu with offerings like Hainanese Chicken Rice and The Peranakan. But it is the Tom Yum Nam Sai which steals the show, an intimate taste of home in the form of a clear, savoury, vodka-based concoction. Like its gastronomic counterpart, the cocktail relies on Southeast Asian spices like lemongrass, galangal, and ginger for its trademark flavour.
For more information, visit facebook.com/amrithbysongofindia
3. NUTMEG & CLOVE
With a name like Nutmeg & Clove, we’d expect nothing less than spiced perfection, and their zodiac-inspired menu does not disappoint. We featured its launch during New Year’s, but would be remiss not to mention the Fei Niu or fat ox, which makes use of not one but five different spices. A base of blended malt and house-blended vermouth is infused with wagyu fats, ginger, star anise, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Thanks to the spices – particularly the ginger and star anise – the drink takes on a fragrant warmth that proves irresistible, even on this sunny island.
For more information, visit nutmegclove.com
4. BARBARY COAST
Taking up two levels and three shophouses along Boat Quay, Barbary Coast houses two concepts: Deadfall, the convivial drinking hole, and Barbary Ballroom, a taste of opulence. Look to the former for cocktails that pack a spice-induced punch. The Clear cocktail puts a twist on your typical G&T, pairing a generous pour of Beefeater Gin with tonic, pink peppercorn, and coriander seed. Interestingly, pink peppercorn is less pepper and more cashew, with a lighter profile that does not distract but certainly elevates the ever-so-classic drink.
For more information, visit barbarycoastsg.com
5. IB HQ
Above the Michelin-starred Restaurant Jag at Duxton Road sits IB HQ, where locally sourced ingredients and creative concoctions rule the roost. In a testament to that ethos, the Laha cocktail combines mustard-infused vodka, fresh pineapple juice, vanilla, and yuzu. The result is a playfully unexpected blend, guaranteed to be the highlight of any night; there’s spiciness in the mustard-soaked alcohol, refreshing sweetness from the pineapple, a touch of decadence with vanilla, and hints of zest to top it all off.
For more information, visit ibhqsingapore.com
6. PODI & PORIYAL
Spices grace both the dining and drinking menu at this homely eatery nestled in the heart of Little India. Among its signatures is the Thenga Baanam Cocktail, a medley of coconut flesh, coconut water, cumin-infused rum, ginger, cumin, and chilli. Cumin, the dominating spice, introduces an umami element and peppery aftertaste. For a more niche choice, look to the Vetrilai, which uses betel leaf-infused whisky, gooseberry honey, and Perrier. Though it is most commonly used in paan, betel leaf finds new life here as a source of spiced bitterness.
For more information, visit podiandporiyal.com