These traditional tipples are trending! Korean vodka served in a watermelon shell or absinthe-level potent Chinese wine, pick your poison from these Asian sensations.
Call it a Korean vodka of sorts – this clean-tasting distilled spirit made of ethanol and water can be as potent as 45 percent ABV, although most hover around 20 percent.
Commonly served in small shot glasses, it’s customary (and also fun) to always shoot the first drink, then sip on subsequent glasses. Or, mix with fruit juice to make a soju cocktail.
Wash down your Korean barbecued meats at Seorae with the Subak Bomb ($25.90) – watermelon soju with carved watermelon balls, served in the shell of the actual fruit!
#02-01 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238839
NEXT: For Korean Makgeolli: Don’t Tell Mama →
This milky rice wine is made from grains like sweet rice, barley, wheat and malt, which gives it its muted sweetness and almost creamy consistency.
And it’s a good thing makgeolli slides smoothly down your throat, because at fusion-Korean spot Don’t Tell Mama, they’ve got a free flow of makgeolli cocktails every Wednesday from 7-10pm. Just, well, don’t tell mama.
52 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088473
NEXT: For Japanese whiskies: The Belljar →
These whiskies tend to be less peated than their Scottish ancestors. The more dynamic temperature fluctuations between summer and winter also yield a deeper flavour.
The Japanese especially love their whiskies in highballs – the well-balanced boldness of Japanese whiskies means they retain their appeal even when diluted.
Try it at bespoke whisky bar The Belljar. Feel free to ask the bartender for personal recos based on your preferences (from $12).
18 North Canal Rd, Singapore 048830
NEXT: For Chinese Baijiu: Jiu Zhuang →
Baijiu translates to “white wine” in Chinese, but it’s actually fermented from grains like sorghum or barley – and boasts a potent alcohol content of 50 percent.
Baijiu is typically served at room temperature, or sometimes warm, in small ceramic cups. Proclaim “Gan bei!” (or “dry the glass”) when you toast.
According to restaurant and wine bar Jiu Zhuang, “The history of China is also the history of Baijiu.” Dine on dim sum, and knock back a glass of Shui Jing Fang (from $12).
6C and 6D Dempsey Rd, Singapore 247664
NEXT: For Japanese Sake: BAM! Tapas & Sake Bar →
Sake is actually a generic Japanese term for alcohol. What most folks outside of Japan refer to as “sake” is, in fact, “Nihonshu” – a rice wine with an alcohol content of 10 to 20 percent.
You can drink sake either hot or cold in a small porcelain cup. Full-bodied, more robust ones are best enjoyed warm to mute the bitterness and bring out their bold flavour, while lighter, more delicate sakes are best served chilled to emphasise their aroma.
At BAM! Tapas & Sake Bar, both popular and rare sakes with unique flavour profiles are paired with bold small bites.
38 Tras St, Singapore 078977
NEXT: For Indian Amrut: Saha →
This Indian single malt whisky (46 to 50 percent alcohol content) is made from Indian barley matured in oak barrels at an altitude of 3,000 feet above sea level in Bangalore, India.
Drink it however you normally drink your whisky – either neat, or on the rocks.
The smokiness of Amrut whiskies (from $16) pair wonderfully with the gastronomic Indian fare at Saha. Or, try inspired cocktails like the Indian Mojito ($18).
#01-03 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Rd, Singapore 178957
NEXT: For Singapore in a glass: Post Bar →
Did you know that the rosy-hued Singapore Sling was invented in 1915 disguised as a fruit tea, so females could drink alcohol in public without facing the thenprevalent taboo? The gin-based cocktail became an instant hit.
Today, it’s got dozens, nay, hundreds of renditions to sample in the Lion City alone.
Post Bar has a dedicated category of eight interpretations of the classic (from $15), from the Gold Sling with gold flakes and spicy cinnamon to summery Coconut Sling made with coconut rum.
The Fullerton Hotel, 1 Fullerton Sq, Singapore 049178
NEXT: For Singapore-inspired cocktails: Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall →
While not exactly Asian alcohol, the genius of Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall lies in the Singaporean flavours deliciously infused into their cocktails. Try the Oolong Jiang Cha (pictured left), an oolong-infused gin with hints of ginger, pandan and calamansi, or the Milo Whiskey (pictured right), a play on every Singaporean’s favourite hot chocolate alternative.
60 Boat Quay, Singapore 049848
NEXT: For Korean Soju: Seorae →
By Pinky Chng, December 2017
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