Keeping a keen eye on the now while also paying homage to the old-world glamour of the hotel bar, the long-standing One-Ninety at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore has also gotten a timely revamp recently, with Spanish bar legend Javier de las Muelas given unfettered creative license to put his brand on the 20-year-old space.
One of the pioneers of the bar industry in Spain, 59-year-old de las Muelas is the owner of Gimlet and Dry Martini, which are the top 50 bars in the world and have had an enduring longevity of over 36 years in Barcelona’s fickle F&B scene.
The resulting approach to the bar experience at One-Ninety Bar by Javier de las Muelas is unconventional, given how most high-profile drinking spots are presented in Singapore. There’s a surprising void of arm-gartered hipsterish barmen behind the bar; nor will you see an array of artisanal, unfamiliar labels on its shelves. Instead, you’ll see mostly big commercial brands (like Bacardi or Bombay Sapphire), with drinks quietly mixed up by unassuming bartenders like Susan Tay, who’s worked at One-Ninety for a trend-busting 20 years. Tay and her team were all personally trained by de las Muelas himself, whose winning philosophy maintains that the stars of the bar are ultimately its patrons.
Given the VIP treatment accorded to every customer that steps into his domain, you can expect a drinks programme to match. On offer is an impressive list of 34 mixed alcoholic drinks – classics and new inventions – most of which have been perfected in the course of his illustrious career. A serving of the signature Dry Martini ($23) is a must – it’s adheres to de las Muelas’ strict ritual that demands that the bartender not touch the glass after setting it down, and comes served on a tray. Dirty and fruity variations of his martini are on offer here as well.
Meanwhile, drinks like the Smoked Berries ($23), a refreshing mix of Bombay Sapphire, berries and concentrated flavour Droplets of campfires and berries also developed by de las Muelas, and the strident Coffee Mojito ($23) help recreate a more relaxed, island vibe on the Mediterranean-style terraza seating adjacent to the bar. De las Muelas and his team have worked especially with the Four Seasons’ F&B team to create a special repertoire of lighter, fruitier cocktails to pair with a special weekend high tea menu ($62 with cocktails) with pastries and sandwiches on offer at the bar.
There are other food options available from the all-day deli open in the hotel, with an exclusive range of paninis, croissants and yogurts available. Try the pulled pork taco ($11) with a house made barbecue sauce encased in a fried wonton shell and the pubgrub- esque bowl of batter chicken ($12), with a posh habanero-mayo sauce for dipping.
To drinkers accustomed to Singapore’s typical artisanal experience, this deliberate lack of perceivable flash might prove to be One-Ninety Bar by Javier de las Muelas’ fatal flaw, but go armed with knowledge of the man’s impressive credentials and trust that you’ll be in for a treat here. Natasha Hong
|Venue name:||One-Ninety Bar by Javier de las Muelas|
Level 1 Four Seasons Hotel, 190 Orchard Blvd
|Opening hours:||Daily 8am-1am|
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