Manhattan in Singapore

Cocktails at Regent hotel’s new bar, Manhattan, will be made by bartender Ricky Paiva.

SINGAPORE - It will take a Manhattan, in Manhattan, in... the Regent Singapore? A new hotel bar, named after the famed New York City borough and styled after its legendary 19th-century watering holes, is opening in the middle of next month at the hotel in the Orchard Road area.

The 90-seat bar will be home to the world's first in-hotel rickhouse, a space to age whiskies and other spirits, and bitters and single-cask cocktails in American oak barrels.

Cocktails will be inspired by the Big Apple's iconic neighbourhoods such as Wall Street, Spanish Harlem and Broadway.

Mr Martin Dell, 37, Regent Singapore's director of food and beverage, says it took 15 months of planning for this "multi-million-dollar" project, which aims to be "not just a regular free-standing hotel bar". Previously, he says, the hotel bar was a "traditional hotel bar with no strong concept".

"It was lovely for the past 30 years, but living in Singapore where the cocktail bar scene has exploded, we had to do something different," he says.

The bar concept was developed with Proof & Company, a local company set up in 2012 which curates and sells independent and artisanal spirits.

American bartender Ricky Paiva will head the bar, which has three private rooms for patrons.

Paiva, 32, who has more than a decade of experience in bartending, has worked at famed bars such as San Francisco's Rickhouse and Local Edition, the latter known for its house-made syrups and drinks served in a space inspired by the newspaper business in the 1950s and 1960s.

At Manhattan, he will manage the Rickhouse, which will feature 105 American oak barrels imported from Minnesota. The Rickhouse will use the solera ageing method, developed by the Spanish and Portuguese to ensure a constant average age for sherry and port. The cocktails are stored in barrels, and fractions of the contents of the oldest barrels are mixed with contents from the newer barrels to create house blends.

Solera-aged negroni cocktail (gin, vermouth, bitters), and a port-finished rye whiskey, where American whiskey is aged in a barrel rinsed with port, will be among the items available at the Rickhouse, says Paiva. He says he is infusing Angostura bitters with piped tobacco and cherries, which he can incorporate in his bespoke cocktails when the bar opens.

The bar also has a special ingredients room housing more than 300 items, including wild cherry bark, shisandra berries and dandelion root.

Paiva says they will experiment with flavours and textures to create interesting cocktails. "Maybe if I find something in my travels, I can take it to my ingredients room, make some bitters with it or finish some spirits with it."

Cocktails on Manhattan's fixed beverage menu cost between $18 and $24, while bespoke ones will cost about $25. The fixed beverage menu, which boasts 25 cocktails, will change every quarter.

Currently on it is the theatre district-inspired Box Office Smash (Johnny Drum Kentucky bourbon, apple juice, lemon juice, ginger syrup, sliced apples), a modern take on the classic Mint Julep cocktail, served with a small tub of caramel corn.

The Papaya King, a cocktail inspired by the Spanish Harlem, is a fruit-flavoured rum drink, comprising pineapple, passionfruit, papaya, lime juice and rum-infused banana cordial, with a miniature hotdog on the side.

Ingredients and house-made syrups will not be kept for more than two days and bartenders will use handcut ice from a metre-long showcase ice block for their cocktails. More than 300 types of spirits will be stocked at the bar.

Another highlight is the bar's trolley service, where the bartender will create a cocktail to your taste, blending rare and house-finished spirits and artisanal vermouths and bitters.

Gourmet bar bites prepared by American chef Nicholas Trosien also draw inspiration from New York's melting pot of cultures, to complement the cocktail menu. There are house-made kettle chips, served with a pan-fried onion dip laced with rum-infused grated foie gras; or Trosien's cheeky take on the Big Apple Cheesecake, bite-sized rum-infused apple mousse on a vanilla sable.

Mr Dell says: "We are hoping to attract hotel guests. We also hope Manhattan will become a destination where people will come for a drink after a long day at work."

melk@sph.com.sg


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