Solid drinks in a stuffy joint
After serving coffee in classy settings, Sarika Connoisseur Cafe, the people behind The Connoisseur Concerto coffee chain, opens up a multi-concept on the second floor of the overlooked Orchard Shopping Centre.
The four-venue space takes up a 9,153-square-feet expanse on the second floor of the building. Ambrosia, which seats an auspicious 88, is split in two by sliding doors to partition out a smaller Gazebo room, the space's all-day dining wing. Vine Lounge is another bar within the premises, carved out for 32 wine tipplers to order one of the 140 labels, including Antica Fratta Brut and Pinot Bianco by J.Hofstätter, both of which are exclusive to Vine.
We set our focus on the Elixir Bar, woody an almost ’90s kind of polish in an average shade of beige. Japanese expat Yutaka Nakashima, with his badass blond low-hawk, holds the fort behind a lit marble bar counter. On a quiet night, the tract of floor space set aside for the too-bright Elixir loses cool points – the vibe isn't helped on by the cheesy elevator muzak. Nakashima's spirited charms, however, is reason to stay. He's animated and hilarious when recounting the onslaught of couple photography he had to take at his last stint as manager of the Blisshouse Theme Restaurant [sic].
We watched with bated breath as he free-poured peaty Irish Connmara with Lillet and a vanilla-infused Macallan and Famous Grouse house blend ($25) for our bespoke cocktail, a skill he probably picked up when he first came to Singapore to work at Coffee Bar K. When poured out of a teapot with a cinnamon and anise smoke, the drink fulfils our wish for a dry, peaty cocktail. Spot on.
If you're more partial to a lighter, more refreshing tipple, the menu presets will more than suffice. The Mt Berry ($21), with notes of elderflower and rose against a kick of vodka, comes with an artfully sliced strawberry as decoration, and the mojito-esque Green Iceland ($21) arrives with twirly straws and two mounds of crushed ice, pressed on to look like Leia buns on the highball. This whimsy is present despite the almost-too-formal surroundings.
It all adds up to a confused experience with social codes different from your secret bars and temples to mixology. Take that as your cue to chow down on a portobello and cheese wagyu burger ($36), sour, Assam-style slipper lobster laksa ($22), or KUVO coffee hot wings ($14) with its nose-clearing heat.
Sarika Connoisseur Cafe's ambitious first dabbling in the bar game throws up some good drinks and decent food. But think of it as a whole and the lack of hip factor might just let those two elements down.
Orchard Shopping Centre
321 Orchard Road
|Opening hours:||Sun-Thu 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2am|