Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

Words by Dannon Har

Like food, spices bring vibrancy and variety to alcoholic beverages. Surfacing in unexpected ways on the palate, find everything from cumin to tamarind, cloves to cardamom enriching these drinks.

*This is an extract of an article that first appeared in Wine & Dine’s 2021 ‘Spice & Aromatics’ issue

Compendium Straits Vodka

Paying tribute to Singapore’s Straits Settlement heritage is this one-of-a-kind vodka by local distillery Compendium. Its founder and head distiller Simon Zhao was inspired by the abundance of spices found in the region, and wondered why they were never put to good use by alcohol producers here.

Compendium Spirits (Image courtesy of Compendium)

Thus, Southeast Asian spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon feature prominently in his Straits Vodka, turning the often neutral tasting spirit into an aromatic distillate best enjoyed neat over ice, or in a spirit-forward cocktail like a Martini. Or go the other direction and make a White Russian instead. The spices work just as well alongside the heavy cream and coffee flavours.

The uniqueness of this vodka isn’t just in the spices used. Unlike most vodkas that use grains or potato as a base starch to ferment and then distill, Compendium uses wildflower honey instead, giving it a smoother, rounder mouthfeel. This also allows the spice aromatics to surface better while reducing the harshness present in most other grain-based vodkas.

GudSht Red Sangrila Utama

A name that harks back to the founding father of Singapore and a red wine concoction doesn’t really add up conceptually, until you realise that there is also a white wine version of this cheekily-named bottled cocktail.

Sangrila Utama (Red) (Image courtesy of GudSht)

So wave Singapore’s red and white flag high as you sip on this spiced up drink that’s based on a classic red sangria, but given a big oomph of flavour thanks to use of spirits and syrup alongside the wine. Leave it to the crazy folks at GudSht–a collab bar and bottled cocktail retailer former by creative mavericks GoodStuph and alcohol events people Elite Bar Solutions–to dream up such a recipe.

In each bottled tipple is a mix of cabernet sauvignon, cognac, Grand Marnier liqueur, homemade cinnamon syrup, and an infusion of an array of citrus fruits. Serve it like you would a red wine sangria. Pack a glass with citrus slices, then pour a serving of Red Sangrila Utama from the bottle into the glass. All that’s left to do after is to swirl, sniff and sip.

*Read the full article in Wine & Dine’s 2021 ‘Spice & Aromatics’ issue. Available at newsstands and Magzter

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