S'pore cocktail movers and shakers share their latest drinking concepts

S'pore cocktail movers and shakers share their latest drinking concepts

The local cocktail bar scene has come a long way since its days of sugary vodka- based-tinis.

Almost every bar now has a slew of handcrafted drinks done with homemade bitters, orange juice squeezed a la minute, or small batch artisanal spirits.

Having created a more demanding clientele, bar owners are now compelled to come up with new tricks to differentiate themselves from competitors.

"There are a lot of bars catering to the same demographic - it's a sophisticated scene now with people doing micro distilling and making their own bitters," observes restaurateur and hotelier Loh Lik Peng. Mr Loh created The Library, a password- required, prohibition style speakeasy two years ago.

"When we started The Library, around the same time that 28 Hong Kong Street opened, it was really cutting edge but if we were given the same location now it would be something different," shares Mr Loh.

Next month, he opens Long Play, an easygoing vinyl record bar that focuses more on creating the perfect ambience than on intricate cocktails.

On the other end of the spectrum is veteran bartender Daichi Kanetaka who pays attention to every single detail from the ice to the vessel that his sherry mixed drinks are served in at his newly opened D.Bespoke.

On why he decided to set up in Singapore, he explains that Singapore's bar scene is not as saturated as the overcrowded Ginza in Tokyo.

"Singapore's bar culture still has room to grow. My mentor is 83 years old and still bartending, but in Singapore there are no bartenders over 60," says Mr Kanetaka.

"There are many foreign bartenders coming to Singapore but hopefully the next generation of Singaporean bartenders will develop their own style."

The newest watering holes are therefore moving away from the mainstream into a niche market.

Whether it's specialised sherry or rum-based drinks, creating a different ambience or revamping old concepts, the evolution of the local bar scene continues to be no less than intoxicating.

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