Beer infusions lining the wall.
SINGAPORE — If you’re bored of the same old options when you head out to the bar, more and more adventurous tipple makers are experimenting with new concoctions to grab millennial drinkers.
With new artisanal preparation styles and hard-to-find ingredients, these twists on classic drinks are turning them into entirely new creations.
At Flagship, principle bartender Jerrold Khoo whips up his own cocktail ingredients.
Jerrold Khoo behind the bar.
For the passionfruit bubbles in his daiquiri, he hand blends fresh passionfruit with Xanthan gum, Versawhip, and water together, before using a portable air pump machine to create the bubbles.
The little passionfruit bubbles are spooned onto the cocktail, to give the drink texture.
Down at Cache on Club Street, bar manager Shinya Koba ages his spirits in a traditional Japanese claypot. He does this with gin and campari — which typically go into a Negroni — in order to tone down the "sharpness" of the alcohol.
Shinya Koba with his claypot.
The claypots he uses come from Tokyo, and Koba spent a year experimenting with the ageing process before he hit on a formula that he was satisfied with. The result is a smoother, more full-bodied, and subtly aromatic drink compared to a regular Negroni.
Cool chemistry of cask finishing
Cask finishing is a technique typically employed by rum and whisky makers, to give new flavours to wine and spirits.
For example, casks which were used to store port wine lend spirits a fruitier and sweeter ending, while rum casks tend to produce soft, sweeter results with vanilla tones and toasted wood notes.
Image: The other room
A rum tasting flight.
The Other Room’s master bartender Dario Knox says creating cask-finished spirits allows spirit makers to add new dimensions of flavours.
"Finishing is an extension of a spirit’s maturation process. This change of the spirit in the cask will result in subtle differences in the taste of the final spirit within, since it will interact with the wood of the cask, which has already been infused with the notes of a former spirit or wine,” he says.
Image: the other room
A scotch and tea cocktail.
This is a complicated process as there are many factors that can affect the outcome – including timing, temperature, alcohol level of the former product, or size of the barrel.
Knox says cask finishing requires a ton of patience and the ability to forecast how you want your final spirit to turn out.
Beers go gourmet through infusions
It’s not just cocktails that are going through a revolution in the creative process. While the craft beer movement that exploded in the past decade is in full swing, beer infusions may well set the tone for a whole new direction.
Image: alchemist beer lab
Alchemist Beer Lab, touted as Asia’s first and only infusion beer maker, carries products such as a dry Irish stout infused with marshmallow, vanilla pods, and mint leaves; and a cider infused with clementine and lime leaves.
Alchemist begins its experiments in small batches: it first distills ingredients that might work well together, before committing to placing them in infusion chambers.
Image: ALCHEMIST BEER LAB
Francis Khoo, Alchemist’s managing director says: "Some combinations sound great on paper but end up not working well together when we actually infuse it into the beers
"We once offered guests an infused option where we used rosemary as the main ingredient, and the infused beer tasted wonderful for the first hour. However, after sitting in the tower chamber for some time, the infused rosemary flavours started becoming too strong.”
He says some of the most popular flavours at Alchemist are Asian-inspired flavours, such as the 50 Shades of Pink, a cider infused with pink guava; and the Ugly Sister Golden, an ale infused with grilled pineapples and star anise.
"I hope infusions will appeal to the current generation of beer drinkers who are more discerning," Khoo added.
Image: ALCHEMIST BEER LAB