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10 Jan 2018 By

It’s Still Early in 2018, But We May Have Just Got Our First Great Bar of the Year in Amrith, Right By Michelin-Starred The Song of India.

Amrith is a Sanskrit word that literally means “immortality” and is often referred to in texts as “nectar”. The bar is so named because, well, cocktail = nectar, right? And because Amrith is poised right outside the Michelin-starred The Song of India restaurant, cocktail geeks will recognise that it’s a sly homage to Nektar, which used to be right next door and was one of Singapore’s first bespoke craft cocktail bars.

Okay, history lesson over.

amrith tom collins cocktail

A classic Tom Collins ($24) with verve and refreshing snap. Love the copper straw.

This proud gazebo right outside Song of India is fully glassed-up, encased and air-conditioned; it has a separate tapas menu from the restaurant (which itself serves different cocktails anyway). But there’s synergy, as the focus is on Asian flavours with modern techniques. The bar is helmed by two industry stalwarts: Edwin Poh (of Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall) brings encyclopedic Asian know-how, while Mark Tay (both from Barsmiths) brings revered European and classic knowledge.

We started with…home fried tapioca snacks. Straight up. Then had a look at the menu, which was hand-bound, hand stitched, and divided into sections. The theme was loosely travel, with global and local flavours. In fact, Section 1 featured libations with comfort food links like laksa and chicken rice. The prep involves cryo freezing, fat-washing, cold dripping, more molecular twists but the presentation is fairly classic – you won’t be served anything foamy.

There’s a Spanish section as well, which focuses not just on seasonal or regional flavours (Valencia oranges e.g.), but festival fun as well. From Barcalona you’ll get a variation of the Blood & Sand, from the Rudolph Valentino movie of the same name.

amrith whisky sour cocktail_

Whisky Sour ($24), note the sprayed-on bitters.

Section 2 is about Ancestral (Old Fashioned) and Spirit-Forward (Boulevardier) cocktails. 
The Whisky Sour is an absolute winner. Some bars don’t do the egg whites, some bars don’t get the texture right. Here you get a Sour that has heft, body and layers of unfolding flavours. The emulsification provides texture, gum syrup keeps flavours lingering; while the black walnuts gives it an earthiness. The angostura bitters is sprayed on half the surface, so you get two different flavour profiles depending on your contact. #stunner

amrith rumgroni cocktail_

Smoked Havana ($28), served without ice, and smoked in a bottle.

Fans of Parched know we love us a good Negroni and all its variations. This Smoked Havana classic by Mark Tay – already served in various European bars – is the rum version, a Bencini, if you prefer. Havana Club 7 Years, to be precise. With aged Cocchi Vermouth de Torino, and Campari – in a 3-2-2 proportion. The bottle is smoked with hickory and dried fruits, which allows the flavours to cling on. You’ll taste anise bitters as well, and finally a distinct tobacco finish.

We love the idea of this being served in a sherry glass as well.

amrith after8 cocktail

Clear Skies After 8 ($24), yes, that After 8 Mint Chocolate Thins. There are 45 cocktails on the menu here, so no point ordering off menu.

You want to end the night on a sweet note, so vaya con dios – go with Clear Skies After 8. There are techniques here which, if revealed, might result in somebody’s demise. Needless to say, it’s a liquid dessert, a cocktail that’s not too saccharine, not too minty, and goes down at the speed of flight.

The bar also serves five Punches, in two sizes, roughly couple ($80) and group ($230). The gazebo sits a cozy 14 punters, and there’s al fresco for another 20 odd drinkers. Inside is where the action is though, to watch the prep, the pours and the purposeful blend in these complex and deceptive cocktails. Here, at the crossroads of technique and tradition, of classic and contemporary, you’ll find something that’s good enough for the minor gods.

Amrith, 33 Scotts Road, tel: 6732-1365. Opens 5pm, closed on Sunday.

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