Mixed Masters

The revival of cocktail culture in Singapore has been a long time coming, with top notch bars such as Tippling Club and (the presently-shuttered) Klee upping the ante. With small, artisanal joints such as Bar Stories and Néktar also making their presence felt, we figure it’s time to put the various signature concoctions to the test. It wasn’t easy choosing one over another, but boy, was it fun.1st Bitter Chocolate MartiniFind it at: Néktar  Annex Bldg., 31 Scotts Rd., 6836-9185.The drink: After a most heated debate, we finally settled on this as our favorite. Fill a long glass with ice cubes, then take an ounce of Heavy Water vodka from Sweden, throw in another ounce of white crème de cacao, and top it all up with just a light trickle of crème de menthe. Stir briefly, then strain into a martini glass and leave unadorned. Sounds simple you say? Perhaps. But the end result is a crystal clear, colorless liquid that looks just like water and tastes amazing. The ingredients and preparation may be understated and straightforward, but the creamy texture on the palate (without the use of any dairy), a hint of chocolate and the subtle lingering peppermint aftertaste culminates in a smooth, harmonious drink that’s neither too strong nor too sweet. Don’t trust its seemingly harmless nature, this one’ll sneak up on you. Let’s just say that if we were on a date with this baby, someone would be getting real lucky tonight.Damage: $20Potency: 4/5Pair it with: A sliver of 55 percent Valrhona chocolate. Be real nice to the boys behind the bar, and they just might be persuaded to dig into their secret stash of dark choc.2nd MO Prague—Monastery Smoky Martini Find it at: Axis, 4/F Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Ave., 6885-3098.The drink: Served in a cocktail glass, this golden straw-hued concoction appears innocent enough. With equal parts Tanqueray gin to Scottish Laphroaig single malt Scotch whisky, it’s finished with French Noilly Prat dry vermouth and garnished with a lemon twist. We can safely say this is a real man’s drink. It assaults your nose with its pungent aroma, then socks you in the mouth with its smoky flavor and alcoholic body, before burning its way down your esophagus and finally punching you in the gut. As unpleasant as that may sound, the distinct herbal flavor of the Noilly Prat furnishes the drink with an added level of depth and complexity that’s most inviting. So man up and drink it down. But have yourself a few of these, and we can guarantee blurred recollection as your souvenir the next day.Damage: $20Potency: 5/5Pair it with: All your hairy-chested mates. See who can guzzle down the most of these heavy hitters before keeling over.3rd The Tom Yum Find it at: Loof, #03-07 Odeon Towers Extension Rooftop, 331 North Bridge Rd., 6338-8035.The drink: Inspired by the quintessential Thai soup, this concoction is a bold and playful combination of vodka infused with tom yum spices, pierced with citrusy lime juice and accentuated by coconut liqueur. The large red chili that straddles the glass announces the heat and spice, which screams at you immediately as you sip it up a straw. A refreshing drink that’s an interplay of sour and spicy layers, what really gives this its unique taste is the tropical coconutty note at the end that makes for a clean, rounded finish. We can think of few things that we’d rather drink when we’re hungry. If the concept of a liquid diet speaks to you, then this intriguing potion will really tickle your palate.Damage: $18Potency: 2/5Pair it with: A nice patio and a killer view.4th Rosemary Tales Find it at: Bar Stories 2/F, 57A Haji Lane, 6298-0838.The drink: Created by mixologist-owner Ethan Leong, this is quite a stiff tipple that’s heavy on the good stuff (we really appreciate the use of good vodka and gin), with the integration of some simple syrup and a liberal splosh of tangy fresh-squeezed lemon juice for a serious zing. All that premium liquor is shaken up with ice, and we believe the true X-factor is due to the addition of a fresh, quickly flamed sprig of rosemary that heightens the sweet, sour and fragrant herbaceous notes for a light yet lethal alcoholic beverage.Damage: $20Potency: 3/5Pair it with: A hot date, who appreciates quality, bespoke cocktails and witty conversation.5th Tropical Chocolate MartiniFind it at: martini bar@mezza9 Mezzanine Level, Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Rd., 6738-1234.The drink: This ain’t the strongest kicker on the block, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most drinkable and delicious. The acidic bite of fresh pineapple and lime juice, along with Bols triple sec, permeates the chocolatey richness of Bols Crème de Cacao White. But that’s not all. It’s brought together by the lightest spritz of falernum tincture (made from cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods), with smooth Imperia vodka as its alcoholic base. Just a small sip reveals a complex tropical flavor, rife with lashings of cacao and spices. A real crowd pleaser, this is one for the ladies. But don’t write it off as a lightweight, this one will hit you when you least expect it.Damage: $17Potency: 2/5Pair it with: Close friends who enjoy a mean drink and happy hour.