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The new classic Singapore cocktails

As the local cocktail scene continues to mature, we wonder if there’s a new drink that can rep the Lion City

We’ve come a long way from swigging vodka cranberries and tequila pops – the cocktail scene here, with its craft and inventiveness, is testament to that. But if we had to think of a drink that represents the city, is it the Singapore Sling, in all its bright pink sweetness? Probably not. We ask seven noted drinkers to name one locally made drink that can aspire to be the new Singaporean classic.  

1
Little Red Dot, $23 at Jigger and Pony
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar
1/5

Little Red Dot, $23 at Jigger and Pony

Nominated by Indra Kantono and Gan Guoyi, owners of Jigger and Pony, Sugarhall, Humpback, The Flagship and Gibson

‘When we thought about what qualities this drink should encompass to be named the “new Singapore classic”, we thought of a few things: firstly, it would have to fulfil the basic criteria of a good cocktail in terms of craft, balance of flavours, and visual attractiveness. Secondly, the spirit of Singapore should in some way be incorporated into the heart of this drink. The one cocktail that came to mind was Aki Eguchi’s Little Red Dot, which is a distillation of his experience here in Singapore and the cultural diversity present in our society.

‘Little Red Dot is a mix of Tanqueray No. Ten, lychee liqueur, Indian rosewater, raspberries, and grapefruit juice. Tanqueray No. Ten’s British roots represent Singapore’s British heritage as well as the diaspora within our population. Aki chose to represent the indigenous Chinese by using a lychee liqueur in the mix. The Indian rosewater is a reminder of his encounters in Little India, and the raspberries are a nod towards the interactions he has had with European guests and counterparts.

‘The ingredients are shaken together with ice, and the resulting liquid is a beautiful hue of red. There are no fancy garnishes adorning this cocktail – it is simple and beautiful on the outside, but packs a punch of flavours inside. This drink should not be underestimated or looked over, just like our tiny city-state.’

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Telok Ayer
2
Sugarhall Daiquiri ’97, $22 at Sugarhall
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
2/5

Sugarhall Daiquiri ’97, $22 at Sugarhall

Nominated by Alison and Chris Marshall, avid supporters of the local cocktail scene and regulars at cocktail nights. They’ve lived in Singapore for eight years.

'This is a really tough question, but after much discussion we've gone for the Sugarhall Daiquiri at Sugarhall. A modern twist on the classic, it's deep and full and owes its unique flavour to the bar's very own rum (a Berry Bros and Rudd limited single-cask from the single-estate Caroni Distillery). Not to mention it's cool and refreshing for the Singapore climate.' 

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Telok Ayer
3
The Bunny Hop, $23 at Anti:dote
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
3/5

The Bunny Hop, $23 at Anti:dote

Nominated by Denise Khan Tan, group marketing communications manager at The Unlisted Collection, cocktail bar regular and occasional guest bartender

'I picked The Bunny Hop because personally, I prefer simpler and stronger cocktails – it’s also straightforward, similar to how Singaporeans can be pretty blunt. And like the four languages we speak, it’s made with four ingredients: Pisco, Amontillado sherry, sour plum and lime. The latter two are quintessentially Singaporean, and I'm sure that most of us have enjoyed a classic kopitiam drink with the two. Amontillado sherry is known for its rich flavour, which represents Singapore’s richness in diversity. And Pisco is hella strong – kinda like the punch that we sometimes pack.'

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4
Crimson Bullet, $24 at Gibson
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
4/5

Crimson Bullet, $24 at Gibson

Nominated by Natasha Hong, our very own food and drinks editor

‘The new Singapore classic, to me, isn't just about finding a drink that infuses the identities of our ethnic make-up in a glass, or one that screams “Are you ready, Singapooooore!” with the hands-held-high exuberance of Gurmit Singh at the National Day Rally. Aki Eguchi's Crimson Bullet, with its bold red hue still alludes to our national stripes – but more than that, Aki's created a great drink that showcases just what our local and locally based talent are well capable of.

'With so much of good bartending measured in the stories that its craftsmen share with their customers about the provenance and origins of what they're sipping, I feel that the word will soon spread in a low-key, understated way. Those textured sips of beetroot, Kümmel liqueur and tequila, citrus and a finishing rush of mezcal smoke will speak more highly of post-SG50 Singapore than any TVC flashes of Chinese masks, incense smoke, “street food” and that obligatory skyscraper shot set to modern Oriental music ever will.’

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Outram Park
5
Pablo, $20 at Tippling Club
Photo: Johan Lim
5/5

Pablo, $20 at Tippling Club

Nominated by Zachary de Git, former William Grant and Sons regional portfolio ambassador, and bartender-in-residence of 28HKS. He’s lived in Singapore for five years.

'This is a tough one, do you base it off the use of local ingredients or pure originality that can be linked to a country or establishment? Drinks need to be able to be replicated around the globe if it’s to be the next Singapore Sling. I don’t think it should be dependant on using local ingredients, ’cause that ingredient may not be available in Alaska or wherever if someone wants to make it.

'When I analyse cocktails, I look for just a few things: simplicity, representation of ingredients and memorability?' The Pablo isn’t overcrowded with lots of ingredients – it brings the element of simplicity, making it replicable all over the globe (if the drink’s designer and former Tippling Club barman Yugnes Susela wants to share his secret recipe, that is). The ingredients are fun, some are big, bold flavours and others nice, delicate ones that shine through in the drink. The drink fits the first two elements well, which makes it a memorable beverage. 

'One thing that drives this drink to be a new Singaporean classic is its approachability. Much like the Singapore Sling, it’s an interesting drink which can be made anywhere in the world.' 

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