Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017: Chasing Stars (or Guest Bartenders) Part 1

The pivotal moment for me in my cocktail foray came when I first took a deep incestuous whiff of  that Kaya Toast Cocktail at Bitters and Love (as if recreating scenes of smothering myself in Naz's smooth locks. I think I'm going to need a moment). That was many moons ago, my love for sweet things dwindling down to a dull but omnipresent mode; the fixation switching tides to tipples that are a bit more persuasive, more lethal. But, you're not here to listen to the story of my journey to alcoholism. You're here to read up about my recommendation for this 6 mad days of a journey to a thousand tipples.

If you haven't already heard (where have you been?), Singapore Cocktail Festival comes back with a bang this year, with the same mad-house antics of International guest bartender shifts and workshops happening all around town with the exception of the Festival Village on 99 Beach Road working as the heart of the festivities. No more wristbands. Good God!!! Just good old bar-hopping sans the restrictions of having to manage expectations with $14 cocktails. That being said, most bars will be running promotions on the specialty cocktails curated just for the festival, so do keep a look out at all the 45 participating establishments dotting the island.

However, I would like to bring your attention to the number of visiting International and Regional Bartenders working magic behind the bar this festival. If you're planning a bar-hop (because you should), be strategic about it! Here's it in tiny doses, 2 days at a time because it can all get a little too overwhelming.

16/3 (Thurs)

Cufflink Club/ Bar Termini / 7pm - 12am

After last years Bar Termini's takeover at the same venue and winning me over with their seductively smooth milk punch, boy am I glad to see them back! To mix things up a little, it's a Negroni and Spritz session so if you're looking to start the festival on a light note, this should be up your alley.

Nutmeg & Clove/ Battle of Japan / 6pm - 12am

Photo credits: @Nutmeg&Clove Facebook

What's better than having 3 powerhouses from the Land of the Rising Sun under one roof? You betcha bottom dollar, nothing! From 6pm onwards, throttle over to Nutmeg & Clove for their bar takeover featuring 3 Japanese bartenders: Ryu Fuji, Master Hidtesugu Ueno and Tsuyoshi Miyazaki. Precision, accuracy and flair is the name of the game here; so you, like me, will be expecting some spiffy drinks. Well, there's only one way to find out!

Jigger & Pony/ Speak Low / 8pm - 12am

#2 Asia's 50 Best Bars, Speak Low in Shanghai makes its nest in Jigger and Pony for one night only. Showcasing an equal measure of tropical fun and glamour, the night might just turn a little bonkers. 

Neon Pigeon/ Attapon de Silva / 8pm - 12am

Attapon de-Silva of Bangkok, Q&A fame will be working in equally dimly lit pigeonhole, Neon Pigeon for a guest shift like no other. Despite a lack of publicity, the bar has already seen some of Bangkok's most famous and influential pass through its doors, and its no wonder, considering cocktails such as The Ambrosia Cloudy Punch with 5- hr sous vide green apple vodka, cloudy apple juice, kiwi nectar, fresh absinthe leaf and lemon. If you want in on this gentle giant's works, do scoot on over!

17/3 (Fri)

Cin Cin/ Stuart Danker/ 7pm - late

Former head bartender at Sugarhall and current Drinksfellas portfolio manager, Stuart Danker (truth be told) was one of the only reasons that warranted visits to Sugarhall in my honest opinion. It's such a pleasure seeing him helming the sticks once again at Cin Cin with Head Bartender Fadly Sujebto; they will be turning Bluecoat Gin into four different gin and tea-based cocktails. Get those sticky pinkies out!

Gibson/ Lauren Mote Tanqueray Green Room/ 8pm - 12am

It's going to be thrilling witnessing Gibson transform into a lush green room of botanic wonders  hosted by Lauren Mote, World Class Canadian Champion who also co-founded Bittered Sling , a wildly successful line of bitters and small-batch cocktails.

Monti/ Toru Ariyoshi/ 9 30 - 11 30pm

If you're after that perfect Instagram story moment, Monti is the place to be. International Champion Flair Bartender Toru Ariyoshi will be flaunting what his mumma gave him on the rooftop of Monti at 9 30pm. This coupled by flashy light displays from Marina Bay Sands and the gorgeous skylines is the perfect backdrop to the thrill-seeking action. Adjourn downstairs to the bar for a tipple following which Toru will be performing an encore act, this time fuelled by beats from Jeremy Monteiro and performing Jazz band at 10 30pm. 

The Library/ Alex Kratena with Bentianna and Onder de Boompjes/ 9 -11pm

Next up, Alex Kratena, Artesian at the Langham, P(OUR), yes, this rock star needs no introduction. Come witness him putting Slovakian Bentianna and Onder de Boompjes from Netherlands to good use as he churns out some magical tipples at The Library.

Native/ Hiroyasu Kayama/ 9 - 11pm

One of the most interesting collaborations this festival is when mad scientist meets urban forager. We already know Native Bar as being on the forefront of regional spirit showcase and foraged ingredients with cleverly woven stories to boot; multiply that novelty effect by a hundred and that would equate to this experience. Tokyo's Bar Benfiddich Hiroyasu Kayama is known as a flavor magician, encouraged by his longstanding interest in traditional elixirs and herbal liquors, expect a whimsical experience booted by peculiar house-made infusions at this guest shift.

Vasco/ London Cocktail Club Pop-up/ 9pm - 12am

Photo Credits: Vasco FB

Rum-seekers, The London Cocktail Club may be calling out your name. Don't miss JJ Goodman and Co. of London Cocktail Club as they whisk out mugs of magic potion from behind the bar. And what better way to enjoy this night of inebriation then with cubano sandwiches (be still my heart) and Cuban cigars. 

Spiffy Dapper/ Peter Nguyen and Four Pillars Gin/ 7pm - 12am

You can call me impartial, but I'm a bit biased where Four Pillars Gin is concerned. Hence, if you're looking for a night cap, feel free to wander into the depths of The Spiffy Dappers dungeon (coined only because the darkness impedes me from find an escape route most of the time) where Peter Nguyen, award-wining bartender from Mr Fogg's Residence in London will be serving up some daringly unusual cocktails from 7pm to 12am

The Wall/ Bangkok Takeover/ 7 - 11pm

Photo Credits: The Wall FB

Highly skilled in flair and classic bartending, enjoy the best of both worlds at The Wall as the Bangkok Takeover program starts off with a bang via Ann Pinsuda Pongprom of The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. Coming in Top 3 in Thailand's National Flair Competition last year, this girl has got style and got grace. I don't suppose if you ask nicely, she would proceed to weave magic in front of your eyes. For reservations, click here:


And there you have it. Stay tuned to Part 2 of my Guest Bartender highlights for the weekend and some short pieces in between about the cocktail and food options for you to fuel your body with through this #SGCF2017.

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