The local cocktail scene is an ever-flourishing beast, and the small handful of bars that have cemented this growth have earned veteran status about town. Manhattan Bar at Regent Hotel is definitely one we count as part of the old guard. Its a name that often surfaces when the question, “what’s a good cocktail bar in Singapore?” is asked, and for good reason.
This year, Manhattan Bar celebrates its third birthday with the launch of a fresh cocktail programme, titled Eras of New York. While their previous menu focused on contemporary New York, the revamp will take drinkers through a discovery of five eras in the history of the Big Apple with 20 different cocktails and 18 bar bites.
The first on the list, titled European Exploration commemorates colonialism — a time where Dutch explorers settled in Manhattan and built a life for themselves. Caribbean flavours, claypot-ageing techniques and earthy flavours are all evoked to transport the drinker back to the strained climate of New York between 1520 to 1730.
On to the Industrial Revolution, drastic mechanisation during the era becomes reinvented in the form of full-bodied, potent tipples. The one called Coal is a favourite. Made with Bowmore 12 Years, dark chocolate liqueur and dry curaçao, the seductive, smoky cocktail finishes with a hint of bitter cocoa to tease.
An all-American menu wouldn’t be complete without referencing the Prohibition, of course. Manhattan does this by focusing on spirit-forward cocktails that wink at the illicit mood of the era by focusing on tropical, fruity flavours and a focus on rum.
Fast forward to post World War II. The drinks now adopt a more fruity and sweet, good-time vibe. The Jack Rose is a peach, applejack, lemon, grenadine and soda water mix, finished with egg white to add texture. If there’s anything on the menu to start your night with, its this.
Those in the Golden Era sector are perhaps some of the most tongue-in-cheek. Celebrating the wealth, glamour and economic boom during the 90s, these harken back to New York’s quirks, and how it came to be the City That Never Sleeps. Brunchin’ is a celery gin Bloody Mary that’s a cute throwback to the brunch craze of the period.
Order yourself a couple of these innovative gems, and take a pick from any of their updated bar snacks list too. If you find yourself feeling particularly down about not being able to take a vacation in New York, or time travel, then drowning those sorrows in quality cocktails at Manhattan Bar doesn’t seem like a shoddy alternative at all.
Manhattan Bar, Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, Level 2, Singapore 249715, tel: +65 6725 3377.