No, you can’t enter from Rosemead. Instead, you’ve got to take a turn into a back alley where a nondescript entrance and an overly familiar signboard greet you. If you didn't already know, the legendary rum bar kept its former signboard just for this moment – for some, it surely tugged on some heartstrings. By now, you’d have spotted a flight of stairs, take it and that’s how you transport yourself to a rum haven that is Sugarhall.
The ethos pretty much remained intact with its approachability, feel-good energy and convivial hospitality. But of course, to keep up with the times, the eclectic cocktail menu, food menu and even the interiors, have all undergone a major facelift to bring us a fairly refined experience contrasting its former past before it shut its doors four years ago.
Dishing out a small but fun range of pub fare, our favourite was definitely the Chicken Liver Toast ($8) and the Fried Chicken with Sweet and Sour Glaze ($29). The former saw creamy savoury mousse with a touch of mineral-like quality with sweet caramelised onions atop a crunchy toast while the latter oddly reminded us of the misinterpreted yet addictive Orange Chicken from Panda Express. Other highlights included the comforting Snapper & Laver Pie with peas and fennel ($38) and the epok epok-like Curry Empanadas ($8).
In hopes to raise the bar, the team seeks to redefine classic cocktails with a rum twist. Take the classic Dark & Stormy ($24) for instance where the combination of an 8-year-old Hampden Overproof rum and a house-made ginger beer results in a refreshingly bright tipple with warm spice and a dry finish. If you're a fan of ginger, you'd love this as the tropical rum’s molasses character accentuated the punchy flavours from the triple ferment of young, old and galangal ginger. If one isn’t enough, consider the Mega Dark & Stormy ($50) which comes in a one-litre Stein that’s sure to up the ante.
Another proper rum classic is without a doubt, the Daiquiri ($22) and Sugarhall’s version stars two rums – namely the lighter Bacardi Superior 1909 and the heavier Jamaican Veritas. Shaken with fresh lime juice and a touch of sugar, this clean and crisp pick-me-up is the perfect drink to sip on right after a long day’s hustle in the office. Just like they said – not all heroes wear capes, some shake Daiquiris. But if you’re looking to learn something while imbibing, consider the monthly rum flight programme where you get to taste featured rums neat.