Origin Grill and Bar: a tribute to Singapore's heritage

Nowadays, people want more than just a fancy cocktail whilst engulfed in a certain sexy darkness. They search for experiences, something to soothe the fatigued soul, something to transport them to another dimension.

Enter Origin Bar, a swanky hotel bar whose top-notch drinks and good looks are championed by an earnest intent to pay homage to Singapore's cultural heritage. Looking past the lures of the grilled specialities of the restaurant menu, the bar is a haven of nostalgic sophistication, a sanctuary like in the 1920s. Dressed with accents of peacock green in contrast to old-fashioned wood and distressed reflective surfaces. The interiors are inspired by the romance of voyage by train, and the room is cleverly divided into more intimate pockets of space by velvety drapes in the most gorgeous rich shades. Low lighting contributed by Hassel table lamps create a warm feel reminiscent of European carriages by night, where imbibers speak in hushed tones over the sound of rolling cocktail ice cubes. Some nights Origin is a cocktail hunter's best kept hideaway. Other night it teems with life and pulsates tunes rolled out by live DJs. It is an experiment in opposites and boy does it please the extremists.

Slovakian Bar Manager Adam Bursik is probably more well versed in Singapore's heritage than any of you, young Singaporean imbibers at the table are. There's no shame in that. But you might want to tone down the gaping, as he takes you through illustrious history of trade, colonial charm and multiracial living whilst explaining the district themed menu. Every cocktail reflecting colours, flavours of its representing district and nuggets of information capable of opening exploration gateways for the inquisitive traveller.

From the Orchard Road section, The Origin ($22) Cocktail is a frothy concoction of sugar cane, honey, nutmeg, pepped, charred pineapple and lime husk wine. Indian limes are charred and then fortified in pisco, in the latter. These guys don't take any shortcuts. Gin forms the base of this cocktail, for obvious reasons seeing our humble beginnings as a British colony. What most won't know is that Orchard was built on nutmeg and pineapple plantations in 1880, hence the inspired ingredients.
Safari Tea - Chrysanthemum, Bamboo Leaves, Jackfruit, Blended Whisky
The next best thing, to the cocktails is its compact but comprehensive selection of bar snacks. The sliders alone are reason enough to contrive a return visit. I shamelessly claimed the blue cheese slider for my own and was rewarded with a landslide of filthy flavors given some form of respectability from the silver of pungent blue cheese, that couldn't have come from just any regular cheese drawer. You could also be a baller (pun intended) and order the Meatballs - stewed in Madeira wine foie gras reduction, the result cries out for a basket of warm bread. For more party friendly fare, there's the nachos, overloaded with cheese lace and fresh salsa. What's better than toasty chips as blessed vehicles for many other good things, such as guacamole and sour cream?

Leaf the Curry
I indulged in the 'Leaf the Curry' - a tipple that reads rich, aromatic and sweet but could be better described as piquant sour from the tamarind infused amaro averna. Mantuano Rum offsets the tartness of the tamarind whilst allowing the cardamon bitters and aromatic curry leaves to translates the romanticism of the spice trade.

Sip on The Buona Vista ($23), a cocktail blending cold brew coffee, fig, hazelnut liquor and Campari whilst committing to memory the historic significance of Buona Vista - the district where the first Italian immigrants settled in Singapore. There's beauty in the hidden lyricism of the menu and its curated contents. Brilliant.

Having patronise Origin on numerous occasions, I would stand firmly by their revived classics, however where their more intrepid 'Marina Bay' cocktail menu is concerned, I have my qualms. The Pearl ($26) for instance is delivered in its own gimmick -  a seashell with tendrils of sea grapes aloft. (Cue 'gadgest and gizmos aplenty'). Most perturbing is the list of components which read like a vegan friendly menu? Tofu, elderflower, sea grapes, mugi shochu and black forest gin. I'm not quite so sure what to make out of it and I get back to nursing the Buona Vista.

Bonus Drinks. if memory serves me correctly, there's fernet, punt es mes, Bowmore 12, Old Tom Gin and that crazy delicious Barolo Chinato Cocchi. DELISH.

As the night went on, Adam's mild mannerisms will make you feel at home, the journey through time complete as the hours escape without even a need for a quick glance at your phone for distraction. Drinks at Origin are guaranteed serendipitous experience. Take in the decor, talk spirits with the bartender and other patrons who have crawled in searching for the same experience. It's easy to say, there will be no strangers at the bar at the end of a long, imbibe-fuelled night.

Origin celebrates their launch on the 21st March with live swing and R&B tracks from homegrown The Pocket Watches.

Origin Bar
22 Orange Grove Road
Shangri-La Hotel
Lobby Level
Tower Wing

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5pm - 1am (2am on Fridays and Saturdays)

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