Junior The Pocket Bar moves to a new space, plus, fresh offerings from Manhattan, Barbary Coast.
by Weets Goh /
November 3, 2020
There’s always something new happening in Singapore’s cocktail bar scene – like there’s some magical wellspring of inspiration. Or maybe it’s because we have some of the most innovative, passionate bar people in the world. Whatever the case: here’s where to drink (and eat) this month.
Not so pocket anymore though. Cocktail bar Junior has moved from its tiny back alley space in Tanjong Pagar to a larger location in Ann Siang Hill. It’s also now independently owned by Joe Alessandroni, with Hazel Long helming the bar and Peter Chua remaining Bartender in Residence. While the bar previously changed its menu and concept every 6 months, the new 25-seater location will have a core, permanent selection of favourites. This includes a selection of house-fermented beverages like a lacto-fermented lime soda; and kombuchas – all of which can be made boozy with the addition of a base spirit or liqueur. There are now also “culinary cocktails” – drinks that come with a snack pairing like the Tiny Bubbles, a creation of Pol Roger champagne, jasmine, peach, and yellow Chartreuse served with a chocolate-covered strawberry. The current seasonal menu is Washi, a semi-kitschy, Shinjuku bar-inspired concept with drinks named after origami forms like the Crane, which combines kyoho grape, Sakura vermouth, cognac and lemon for a heady cocktail that tastes like bubblegum for adults. Don’t forget to grab some bites – the anything-goes menu features moreish bar dishes like mala fried chicken sandwich; and crispy fish skins served with a peanut sauce.
Imagine a state dinner: all manner of lavishness that’s equal parts hospitality and diplomacy. Not so much for Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House though, which was infamous for serving guests meals that often included such dreariness as bread and butter sandwiches alongside milk. The 32nd First Lady of the U.S. was on a mission of austerity, and wanted to lead my example to show Americans how to eat frugally but nutritionally. Sometimes, this meant fortifying cooking with Milkorno, a functionally tasteless compound of powdered milk and cornmeal. Manhattan at the Regent is, of course, anything by austere; and their Milkorno cocktail – part of a new menu inspired by famous Manhattanites – is anything but flavourless. The savoury spirit-forward creation combines mezcal and bourbon with a corn and smoked pepper milk punch; topped with grilled baby corn. There’s also one inspired by the late Anthony Bourdain, whose predilection for coffee and tobacco (there’s a story about a Thomas Keller dessert somewhere in there too) led to a cocktail with peaty Bowmore, Luxardo hazelnut, and espresso liqueur. American classics have been added to the food menu – think refined spins on clam chowder, hot dogs, and shawarma.
While temporarily closed during the Circuit Breaker – and a little more after that – Barbary Coast has reopened with new drinks, food, and safety distancing measures. Fresh libatory options include the cheekily named Pea-Ness, a spirit forward, yet surprisingly refreshing mix of navy-strength gin, gin lacto-fermented apple, pea water, and lemon. There is also great food, much of which feature some kind of liquor-inspired component. Standouts include a vermouth-spiked spaetzle mac and cheese with butter-poached lobster; and a tomato dish with heirlooms, fermented tamarillos, sauce vierge, and tomato mezcal, served with ciabatta crisps.