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Drinks30 Insider Tips To Drinking Better

30 Insider Tips To Drinking Better

30 Insider Tips To Drinking Better
By Cheryl Ho
January 30, 2018
Like artisanal foods and brashly imaginative dining trends that whet our appetite, Singapore’s drinks scene has evolved tremendously. In the last five years, the spirit of choice among the young and affluent has gone from whisky to gin to more sophisticated distillations. And the focus on fine wines has grown to include a greater appreciation for boutique and biodynamic alternatives from as far away as Lebanon. Whether you’re looking to up your drinking game or just drink better, here are tips from industry insiders to help you hit the bar like a proper cognoscenti.
Head bartender Joe Schofield
Head bartender Joe Schofield

Joe Schofield


Head Bartender, Tippling Club

"Cocktail making has become more advanced. One gadget that’s widely used today is the rotary evaporator (like a traditional still, except under pressure), which allows us to create our own spirit bases. This means that the ingredients aren’t subjected to as much heat damage, allowing us to achieve a very delicate and full flavour from our distillate. We use this to create our own beetroot vodka, which is used in our Rain cocktail."

(Related: Happy Hour With… Joe Schofield)

 

Mark Tay and partner Yap Hwee Jen created Sunday Punch to offer bottled cocktails you can take home
Mark Tay and partner Yap Hwee Jen created Sunday Punch to offer bottled cocktails you can take home

Mark Tay


Owner, Sunday Punch

"Don't ask a bartender to make a drink that tastes like the one you had at another bar. It's like going to McDonald's and asking for a Whopper."

 

Bartender-owner Luke Whearty
Bartender-owner Luke Whearty

Luke Whearty

Head Bartender, Operation Dagger
"Instead of falling back on your regular Negroni or Old Fashioned, trust the bartenders and leave yourself in their hands. Who knows, you might discover your next favourite drink or, at the very least, you’ll experience something new."

 

Bread Street Kitchen is known for its British fare and clever cocktails
Bread Street Kitchen is known for its British fare and clever cocktails

William Pravda


Head Bartender, Bread Street Kitchen

"The Rosalio liqueur, which consists of rose petals, bergamot, Cedro lemons and other botanicals, is perfect when blended with white spirits and sparkling liquids; it also makes a good base for many fun and innovative creations."

(Related: 'F' As In 'Food': Chef Gordon Ramsay's Tips For Dining Out

Bar manager Dario Knox
Bar manager Dario Knox

Dario Knox

“The Man Behind”, The Other Room
"I am a big believer in old English milk punches or clarified milk punches. They were made over 150 years ago. They are delicious, easy to make and can be stored for months or even years under the right conditions."

(Related: Happy Hour With… Dario Knox)

Founder Kamil Foltan
Founder Kamil Foltan

Kamil Foltan


Founder, Sunday Funday
"Tequila, Rum and American Whiskey or Bourbon and Rye, if you like, are becoming more and more popular across the local drinking community. They are similar to whiskies in their own way, and many consumers are becoming more educated and curious about what else is out there that they can enjoy."

(Related: Happy Hour With… Kamil Foltan

Atlas is known for its bountiful collection of gins, champagnes and spirits
Atlas is known for its bountiful collection of gins, champagnes and spirits

Roman Foltan


Head Bartender, Atlas
"Amaro liqueur is the next big thing. With roots from Italy and dating back to Roman times, this wine-based drink is infused with herbs and spices and is typically drunk before or after a meal to aid digestion. It is very tasty on its own, and its use in cocktails is very versatile. Our favourite is the Amaro Montenegro."

(Related: Happy Hour With… Roman Foltan

Bar manager/partner Steve Schneider
Bar manager/partner Steve Schneider

Steve Schneider


Bar Manager and Partner, Employees Only Singapore
"If you go into a well-respected-cocktail bar anywhere in the world and ask to buy the bartender a shot of Fernet Branca, you’ll immediately establish camaraderie and gain status as an in-the-know drinker. The industry loves Fernet and will be kind to those who recognise it!"

(Related: A Different Kind Of Ladies’ Night Beckons At Lulu’s Lounge)

Deputy bar captain Charmaine Thio
Deputy bar captain Charmaine Thio

Charmaine Thio


Deputy Bar Captain, 28HKS
"Non-traditional sippers are trending. These days, the notion of what is meant to be sipped neat or on the rocks no longer extends to your usual suspects such as rum, whisky or cognac. More distillers are crafting "sipping gins" that are excellent neat or chilled over ice as they would be in a gin and tonic or martini. Tequila is also shedding its "party image" and, together with its sibling mezcal, is increasingly being appreciated as a sipping spirit."

(Related: The Region’s Best Bars In Singapore)

General manager Gerald Lu
General manager Gerald Lu

Gerald Lu


General Manager and Head Sommelier, Praelum Wine Bistro
"Shaky vintage by a good producer, good vintage by a shaky producer; that’s the smart way to drink good wines without splurging on a regular basis."

 

Bartender-owner Vijay Mudaliar
Bartender-owner Vijay Mudaliar

Vijay Mudaliar


Owner, Native
"Always ask the bartender the story behind the cocktail you are drinking. I'm almost certain that, given context, a cocktail can taste better and the level of appreciation higher."

(Related: What Is Zero Waste Bartending?)

Co-founder Christopher Mark
Co-founder Christopher Mark

Christopher Mark


Co-Founder, Black Sheep Restaurants
"Pared down, simple cocktails pair better with food and are a nice contrast to the over-the-top moustached creations in today’s bar world. Our recently opened New Punjab Club celebrates the boozing culture of the progressive 1950s and 1960s, and the concise list of high balls centres on gin in the summer and whisky during cooler months to provide a refreshing complement to the hearty food."

The perfect spot for preprandial drinks followed by sumptuous Italian fare
The perfect spot for preprandial drinks followed by sumptuous Italian fare

Alan Au


Head Sommelier, Foo’d By Davide Oldani
"Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean with a long history of wine culture, is blessed with a combination of abundant sunshine and varied terroir. And the most important factor is its indigenous grape varietal, which can only be found here. It produces mainly dry whites, reds as well as sweet wines. One particular winery that impressed me is Passopisciaro, which produces less than 8000 cases annually."

Don't expect to a run-of-the-mill list of wines here at Nouri
Don't expect to a run-of-the-mill list of wines here at Nouri

Matthew Chan


Restaurant and Beverage Manager, Nouri

"If you want a bottle that will take you through each course of a degustation or set menu, give a versatile rosé or a food friendly orange wine a go. Orange wines are still relatively unknown. They are made with grape varietals that are used to make white wines and showcase a higher natural acidity.

I also highly recommend exploring biodynamic wines. The esoteric techniques employed to the farming methods may seem unorthodox, but having personally visited biodynamic vineyards, I have witnessed the difference these techniques have made in maintaining the health of the grapes and vines. These wines can be vinified in any wine making style, with or without sulphites."

(Related: On The Pass: Do We Need Another Fine Dining Restaurant, Asks Ivan Brehm Of Nouri)

La Terre provides a quiet respite where you can sample some of the best wines and whiskies
La Terre provides a quiet respite where you can sample some of the best wines and whiskies

Daisuke Kawai


Chief Sommelier and Co-Founder, La Terre
"I recommend the Domaine du Daley, Lavaux Villette Grand Cru Le Chasselas Grand Réserve 2015. The grape variety Chasselas is originally from Switzerland, where most of the wines are consumed within the country. This is a classified Grand Cru with a brilliant pale-yellow colour, and peach, orange and white flower on the nose. It has a rich body, is rounded, and has a well-balanced acidity and minerality."

 

Sally Humble and chef partner John-Paul Fetcher were formerly from Aussie restaurant Lume
Sally Humble and chef partner John-Paul Fetcher were formerly from Aussie restaurant Lume

Sally Humble


Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, Bistro November

"Natural wine is a can of worms; sometimes simply not worth opening. drink whatever wine crosses your wine pairings, considerately and appreciatively. seek quality wine conscientiously, and not dogmatically. Good wine is good wine, simply because it's good—not because it's natural."

 

El Presidente Christian Hartmann
El Presidente Christian Hartmann

Christian Hartmann


“El Presidente”, Vasco
"Agave spirits are super-hot in Asia and the suppliers’ portfolio in this category keeps growing, which is a true pleasure."

 

Mr Otaru is known for its extensive range of sake
Mr Otaru is known for its extensive range of sake

Eugene Wong


Certified Sake Professional and Director, Mr Otaru
"I studied under Sensei John Gauntner, and the first thing he used to tell people new to sake was to look for the word ‘Ginjo’ or ‘Daiginjo’ on the bottle, and you can be assured that you are drinking sake that is towards the high end of the market.

Today’s premium sake is brewed with such care and precision that nuances really come through if you treat sake like a wine. While traditional sake glasses are still entirely enjoyable and appropriate, try wine glasses for another level of appreciation.

Speaking of traditional sake glasses, the small glasses are cultural and not intended for doing shots! In Japanese culture, it is an honour to pour for others, and you generally do not pour for yourself. Doing shots of sake is solely reserved for salarymen and samurai on TV."

Owner Howard Lo
Owner Howard Lo

Howard Lo


Owner, Liberty Spirits Asia and Cocktail Bar The Secret Mermaid
"Craft spirits are in full swing now; while there are a lot of distilleries producing great spirits, be cognisant that some of these companies aren’t actually producing the spirit themselves; they’re sourcing it from a mass producer (generally MGP of Indiana, also known as Midwest Grain Products of Indiana) and acting as a brand marketing group. Pay attention to the label on the bottle and look for key words like distilled, produced, or other language that would make it clear it’s being made by the company whose name is on it."

 

Communications director Patrick Sauze
Communications director Patrick Sauze

Patrick Sauze


Communications Director, Robert Parker Wine Advocate

"There are many wine options that will work with spicy dishes, but there is one specific character in the wine that is necessary to make the pairing work: high acidity. Preferably avoid sweet wines that will make the chilli feel “hotter”, and look for reds or white that have a good bite on the tongue as the acidity will balance out the chilli."

(Related: Why Every Food Lover Should Be A Robert Parker Member

Senior bartender Shin Kim Shin
Senior bartender Shin Kim Shin

Sin Kim Shin


Senior Bartender, Jigger & Pony

"I think consumers can expect to see a lot more familiar, “comfort” ingredients in modern cocktails such as Milo."

 

 

Bartender Jayden Ong
Bartender Jayden Ong

Jayden Ong


Bartender, Sugarhall
"Personally, I do not think that it’s necessary for guests to be “discerning” drinkers in order to enjoy an evening at a cocktail bar. Even if you’re new to cocktail drinking, one way to make your evening more memorable is to simply chat with the bartenders."

 

Highest Spirits is a website run by Chi Hou and Sam
Highest Spirits is a website run by Chi Hou and Sam

Foong Chi Hou


Editor, Highest Spirits
"The world has much more to offer than whisky and vodka, and you can often get good stuff at a very reasonable price. My current favourite drink is Calvados, a French apple brandy that has all the subtle finesse of whisky, but a zesty fruitiness to boot."

 

Head barman Peter Chua
Head barman Peter Chua

Peter Chua


Head Barman, Crackerjack and Junior
"Lose gender stereotypes for drinks! An Old Fashioned is not a 'manly' drink. A Mojito is not a 'girly' drink. That stemmed glass is not feminine. That rock glass is not masculine. Tote bags were not a guy thing until recently. I am keeping a unicorn cup for the next guy that asks me 'to put it in a manlier glass'."

 

A homegrown brand making its mark in the drinks scene
A homegrown brand making its mark in the drinks scene

Catarina Longman


Co-Founder, Maracatu Cachaça
"Yes, we've all had our share of hangovers, but this can be drastically reduced if you focus on quality. Artisinal spirits such as Maracatu Cachaça are distilled in batches and during the distillation process the good alcohol (the "heart") is separated from the bad stuff... it makes a big difference on your palate and on how you feel the next morning."

 

Group beverage manager Symphony Loo
Group beverage manager Symphony Loo

Symphony Loo


Group Beverage Manager, Summerlong, Neon Pigeon, Fat Prince, And The Ottomani
"For a casual Monday or Tuesday night out, start off with craft beer before dinner. I have tried numerous impressive craft beers, and have listed a few of them in our outlets: the 8 Wired Flat White Stout from Australia tastes like light chocolate-coffee stout; Luppolajo Bucolica Kolsch from Italy, which is a crisp medium-bodied beer; and Hop Splicer Grapefruit XPA from Australia, an extremely refreshing and citrusy beer that was released in Singapore in August."

 

Head sommelier Mason Ng
Head sommelier Mason Ng

Mason Ng

 

Head Sommelier, Atlas
"If you’re looking for a bottle of pinot noir at a restaurant, particularly Burgundian, that won’t break the bank, look to German pinot noirs, such as the spätburgunder. These wines offer quality, value and are often regarded as having just as high a quality as their Burgundian counterpart, which tends to be very expensive. Names to look out for include MeyerNäkel, Bernard Huber and Rudolf Fürst."

(Related: Why We’re Swooning Over The New Art Deco-Style Atlas Bar

Bar programme director Aki Eguchi
Bar programme director Aki Eguchi

Aki Eguchi

 

Bar Programme Director At The Jigger & Pony Group, Gibson
"I feel it is still important to step back and embrace the classics. One that I feel will start to really be popular again is the spritz. It’s a straightforward cocktail that’s easy to like, especially in Singapore’s warm climate. Being a bubbly, it also has a level of glamour about it, while maintaining a tasteful and balanced blend of flavours."

(Related: How To Make These Perfect #GenerationT Cocktails

Head bartender Yugnes Susela
Head bartender Yugnes Susela

Yugnes Susela

 

Head Bartender, Smoke & Mirrors
"Go for unique spirits, such as the Okayama craft gin from Japan. It is a peach-flavoured gin with rice sochu base, and uses japanese peaches as one of their botanicals. It's aged in oak barrels and has a smoky fragrance that is rare for gin." 

 

Boutique wine shops for the bold:

Artisan Cellars (#B1-01, Palais Renaissance, Tel: 6838 0373) is a purveyor of fine wines run by wine geeks with a passion for beautifully made, limited-production wines from the most revered and progressive artisanal estates; certainly not just your usual retail front.
Merchants Wine Cellar and Store (52-53 Duxton Rd, Tel: 6222 1162) aims to help consumers here access better quality wines that showcase Australia’s diversity. It manages to do this by enabling small wine producers to work together, consolidate their wines and ship together to reduce transportation costs, and pass these savings onto customers.
The French Cellar specialises in importing French wines directly from vineyards with the hope of offering some of the best the country has to offer at great value to its members. The wines are carefully selected by renowned sommelier Nicolas Rebut, former chef sommelier of 3-star Michelin restaurants Louis XV (Monaco) and Le Meurice (Paris).

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DrinkswinebeerDrinkingCocktailsspiritsJanuarydrinks

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