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22 Jan 2018 By

Smoke & Mirrors Has a New Menu ‘The Playful Eye’, Which is Equal Parts Playful, and Equal Parts An Eyeful. So, Does the Magic Hold Up?

Visually the cocktails are striking and surreal, with oddball garnishes and off-kilter presentations that, true to the bar’s name, makes you wonder if you should eat them or eject them.

Head Bartender Yugnes Susela and his team worked many months to create this clutch of cocktails, an endless trial of experiments, exasperations and finally, elations. The progressive cocktails uses culinary techniques to achieve its high-gloss.

“I’ve always been intrigued by how a chef would plate a cocktail if they were behind the bar. For a year, my team and I researched unique flavour profiles and methods used by chefs who push culinary and imbibing boundaries. We drew inspiration from our individual experiences, surroundings and travels to create ten new cocktails,” says Susela.

smoke mirrors MCNL My Creation No Limit

M.C. – N.L. (My Creation, No Limit, S$24): Cacao-infused vodka, sweet vermouth, pineapple juice, coconut nectar and Pu’er tea. Urban farming partner Edible Garden City supplies the Cinnamon Basil garnish, and yes, you can eat the ‘soil’. Chocolate and herbs work well together, it’s a cocktail you muse over, wondering if it’s safe. It’s totally safe, and sublime.

So confident was he of its execution that he has been presenting the offerings at guest bartending shifts around the region (bringing a staff along each time). In between travels and bar shifts, we managed to get the Singapore Bar Awards’ 2017 Bartender of The Year to pour through our Parched Q/A.

What’s the weirdest thing that has ever been stolen from your bar?

Susela: Our straws for the Oddly G&T. We use Bombilla stainless steel drinking straws that has a detachable filter part, attached at the end, to filter out the pink peppercorns while you sip on the cocktail.

smoke mirrors yugnes

What do you drink after your shift?

After a long day of work, I like to unwind with a glass of Hendricks Gin & Tonic. Or a classic Dirty Martini, with three olives to be specific .

Which bar is your local?

Oxwell & Co at Ann Sing Street. I’m sold on their Gin & Tonics on tap.

Who would you like most to drink with?

Ferran Adrià, the legendary master chef from three-Michelin-starred elBulli. I love his thought process behind the art of cooking; deconstructing a dish down to its basic while elevating flavours and textures. He’s also a perfectionist with his work, taking three years to create the classic liquid olive dish. Just give me one hour with him and that’s enough for me to be the happiest man.

What won’t you drink?

Absinthe and sambuca. I had a bad experience with it, you’ll see me throwing up within 35 seconds.

What do you make some who wants to celebrate something?

I’d recommend one of ours, it’s called the Cloud and Air, it has edible meringue, there’s prosecco, you also have some port wine, it’s a very bitter, sweet drink, it’s good for a birthday.

What are the 8-10 spirits a beginner needs to start a good home bar?

They would need a Campari, chartreuse (green), sweet and dry vermouth, St Germain, Angostura Bitters, a bottle of gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey and Baileys.

smoke mirrors God's Own

God’s Own (S$24): Coconut, junmai sake, coconut syrup and rum. The garnish is a slice of potato, cooked at 85 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes to reach a perfect density and texture, and then flavoured with pistachio. The cocktail has a long finish, thanks to the sake and rum, and its slice of potato heaven adds a filling touch. 

Any good advice/tips for a home bar?

There’s no need to go out of the way to purchase fancy bartending tools. For example, you could use a kitchen table spoon instead of a bar spoon. Another good tip is to use fresh ingredients from the local market. For our God’s Own cocktail (above, from the Playful Eye menu), instead of going to a brand name supermarket, we go to the local market to purchase fresh coconut meat.

What’s a cocktail/bar trend that needs to be stopped/that’s overrated?

A cocktail bar that markets itself as locally inspired but have a bulk of their products imported from overseas.

smoke mirrors Kurokawa

Kurokawa (S$22): Vodka is infused with fragrant rausu kombu seaweed that produces a deep, intense flavour, which is then shaken with gomasio (made from black sesame and salt) and house-made ponzu tincture for acidity. The easiest of the lot to drink, it disappears so quickly that you think you’ve been had. 

What do you bring to a house party?

A carton of beer. It’s surprising how a simple gesture can bring smiles to everyone around you at a house party!

Have you ever cried in a bar?

Yes I did, when I found out in the news that we won Best Cocktail Menu for an award show in 2016.

smoke mirrors Signature

Smoke & Mirrors (S$24): A tequila-based, spirit-forward libation. Garnish is an edible garden of apple, cardamom and different textures of ‘soil’, made of raw pistachios and cocoa powder.

What do you serve someone with a broken heart?

A broken heart? Then you need something stiff then, we’ll let you try the Smoke & Mirrors, it’s a very spirit-forward drink, it’s basically tequila, Cynar, and pimiento.

Smoke & Mirrors, #06-01, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew Road, tel: 6384-5595. Hours: Sun – Thurs 12 noon – 12.30am; Fri – Sat 12 noon – 2am.

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