Keeping to their Ernest Hemingway theme, the understated cocktail bar at Keong Saik Road launches its third menu, v3, that feels like an authentic telling of the writer’s life. The team looks inward instead of outward, as most places have done given travel restrictions, to create a wholly new list of nine tipples.
They’ve also snuck in a bit about social responsibility by doing away with up to 80 per cent of fresh produce (most go to waste as garnish) by cleverly using alternatives and essential oils. In the #1899, for example, they’ve recreated the creaminess of egg white foam with soy milk kefir and a touch of rotovap pandan distillate.
Unlike v2 where cocktails were inspired by the books Hemingway wrote, this round they are named according to specific years in the American novelist’s eventful life. The drinks are loosely based on his four marriages, time in the Red Cross during WWI, time in the Spanish Civil War, his Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize wins.
Even if you’re not a fan of American literature or Hemingway’s romances, the v3 menu has plenty to surprise you with from a fizzy sloe gin that deliciously smells of rosemary (#1954) to strong vinegar-forward concoctions.
Our favourites came from those on the bolder side of flavour profiles such as the #1917 with a mushroom miso brine base, made from rehydrating shiitake mushrooms and brining in miso and vinegar for five days then finished off in a cheese-waxed bottle. Meant to evoke an earthiness from the dirt Hemingway would’ve been covered in as a driver for Red Cross in WWI, the result is a savoury cocktail that’s complex and umami.
The other is the #1952, an astringent-smelling libation that is bound to elicit pretty strong reactions. The ingredient responsible is the capsicum, which is sous vide into a distillate, lending its distinctive green, herbaceous fragrance to the drink. Flavour-wise, however, the capiscum mellows out to augment the smokiness of the Casa Elemental Pulcato Reposado tequila reminiscent of charred green peppers on the grill.
We were also glad to discover Old Man now has a somewhat fleshed out food menu. There’s still that cheese and charcuterie board but they’ve found great bedfellows in the form of gourmet burgers (even a Ramly Styled Double Beef Special), a chilli cheese hot dog, fries and two variations of oozing cheesecakes. There’s all the more reason to stay longer and drink your way down the menu.