Tiffany Chow likes sweet drinks. Iliyas Ong does not. So the pair checked into three bars and ordered bespoke cocktails to suit their taste buds – some were amazing, and others, not quite
Her request: light, refreshing and fruity
His request: smoky, whisky-based and short
The bar D.Bespoke
Stiff, masculine and insanely expensive – four drinks cost us $169 – this Ginza-inspired bar was also the best on this list. To take our orders, the bartender, notepad in hand, asked us rather specific questions on our preferences – it was almost like filling up an insurance form. And then the main man, Daiki Kanetaka, emerged from a back room, checked our orders, and proceeded to work his magic.
What she got (left) Yuzu sake. The name says it all: yuzu syrup with sake.
Tiffany says 'It was citrusy-sweet and there was a density to the sake – this isn’t a drink to be downed quickly. At first I was disappointed as Iliyas’ cocktail was more complex. But after trying the rest of the drinks on this list, I realised that this simply made drink was the most balanced.'
What he got (right) Talisker Storm, Laphroaig 10 and dark chocolate liqueur cocktail, served with a maraschino cherry on the side.
Iliyas says 'That’s a damn good drink right there. At first I was confused – two Islay whiskies?! – but the proportions were spot on. It tasted like one smooth, rich, refined, complex potion with just a hint of bittersweetness thanks to the chocolate.'
The bar Bitters and Love
The place was slammed when we got there, around 10pm on a weeknight. It’s the antithesis to D Bespoke: perfect for a fun Friday night out. Ordering was a much more casual process, too, with no questions thrown back at us by our bartender, Chao Wei. (Well, the bar was too loud in any case.) Just a few nods, and off he went.
What she got (left) Skyy vodka, lime, blueberries, calamansi and orange bitters.
Tiffany says 'The drink wasn’t well balanced – I could taste the different layers of strong flavours, especially the calamansi and bitters. It was refreshing and I liked the hint of blueberries but not so much the bitter aftertaste.'
What he got (right) Kentucky bourbon, maple syrup and Merlot.
Iliyas says 'My eyebrows were raised at the floater of red wine, but the cocktail did come together rather beautifully. Smoky and with a slightly sweet finish, the drink also had a heft to it thanks to the Merlot, which was the predominant flavour here.'
The bar Anti:dote
By the time we arrived, ’round about midnight, the bar in Fairmont Singapore looked much like the hotel’s sparse and silent lobby. We were immediately handed a thick cocktail list, but asking for bespoke drinks baffled our server. Once she understood us, it was all silent nods before she hopped back to the bar and relayed our requests to the bartenders – leaving us afraid that something might get lost in translation.
What she got (left) Mount Gay rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, honey lemon, Falernum, Peychaud’s bitters.
Tiffany says 'By this point, I began to think that "light, refreshing and fruity" equals citrus fruits, as that kept popping up on the ingredients list. I like that the drink tasted like a fruit punch and was smoothly blended, but I could still get strong hits of rum.'
What he got (right) A Penicillin. That’s a fairly well-known cocktail that has Islay Scotch, honey-ginger syrup and lemon juice.
Iliyas says 'Not what I expected at all. Sure, it was an able effort: nicely balanced, tart and refreshing. But it missed the point of a "bespoke cocktail" – and I don’t recall asking for a sour drink, either.'