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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Hotel bars mix their cocktails with business

Hotels are playing catch-up, revamping their bars and serving their own brews or bespoke cocktails to pull more customers
MyPaper - June 19, 2014
By: Lim Yi Han
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Hotel bars mix their cocktails with business

You no longer get just the usual tipple at hotel bars nowadays.

Bargoers can now trade their same old Singapore Slings or gin tonics for absinthe, homemade orange liqueur and even Yakult vodka cocktails.

With more standalone cocktail bars mushrooming here, hotels are playing catch-up, revamping their bars and serving their own brews or bespoke cocktails to pull more customers – beyond hotel guests – into their premises.

At Regent Singapore's recently opened Manhattan bar – a "multi-million-dollar project" – the cocktails are barrel-aged.

Bargoers can opt for Manhattan's new signature cocktail, Main Stem, which is made with premium Brazilian rum, albicocca apricot brandy and a house-made gooseberry syrup.

Manhattan's head bartender, Ricky Paiva, 32, told My Paper: "There are great, great bars in the hotels in Europe, America, Australia.

"Singapore has amazing potential to catch up. If you have a number of hotels sprucing up their bars, others will definitely want to keep up."

Martin Dell, director of food and beverage at Regent Singapore, added: "The Singapore cocktail scene has really evolved...particularly in the last three to five (years), we've witnessed an explosion of cocktail bars. What we hope to accomplish is to elevate the local hotel bar scene."

He noted that the response at Manhattan has been "extremely positive, with a good mix of hotel guests and locals".

Over at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, renowned Spanish mixologist Javier de las Muelas joined forces with its One-Ninety bar, which was officially opened in January, to create his own dry martini and Singapore Sangria.

Turning tired-looking lobby bars into upmarket watering holes has paid off.

Pan Pacific Singapore's Atrium bar, which was renovated and had its menu refreshed last year, saw a "significant increase in the number of guests".

The Atrium bar features handcrafted cocktails, using ingredients from the Pacific region. For instance, its Berries Cleanser is a blend of various flavours, including Yakult, vodka, peach and spicy ginger.

Said the hotel's culinary director, Sumanth Das: "The usual repertoire of signature cocktails will no longer make the mark. Cocktail bars are now faced with the constant challenge to outdo themselves in terms of creativity and innovative cocktails."

Other hotels are looking to change their bars to quench the thirst of educated and sophisticated drinkers.

Marina Mandarin Singapore's 26-year-old bar, Atrium Lounge, is set to be revamped.

There are also plans to revamp Orchard Hotel's Intermezzo Bar, which was established in 1980, said its spokesman.

But bars here are unfazed by hotels nipping at their heels. Cocktail bar Bitters and Love owner Ernest Goh said: "I look at it positively – it helps raise awareness for the cocktail industry and introduce more people to cocktails."

Customers are liking the hotel bars' facelift initiatives. Financial consultant Cassandra Leong, 24, said: "I've always seen hotel bars as generic places populated with business travellers or tourists.

"But, today, with enticing menus, impeccable decor and sophisticated ambience, they've become our choice for a chill-out night. Some places have amazing views of the skyline, too. It's like drinking in a more luxurious manner."

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