Cracking open a bottle of wine after a hard day. Enjoying a relaxing beer on the beach as the sun goes down. Popping the Champagne cork to celebrate some good news. Alcohol is oft associated with some of life’s biggest occasions, however, an increasing focus on health and wellbeing has caused many to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol.
This growing trend for a no-alcohol or low-alcohol life has inspired the creation of viable non-alcoholic alternatives, which offer those opting out of booze a tasty and healthier alternative. Rather than going all-out with a glass of sparkling water, non-drinkers can now enjoy craft spirits and aperitifs that are just as (if not more) delicious as alcohol. Some of the key players are already available in Singapore.
With over a decade of experience within the Asia Pacific drinks industry, Lyre’s Regional Asia Manager Rachel Ling is optimistic about Singapore’s growing non-alcoholic drinks movement: “While there is still some level of education to be done both with consumers and in the industry, we’re seeing an increasing number of great bars offering non-alcoholic cocktails that differ significantly from your standard mocktail. Far from a sugary drink that tastes nothing like a cocktail, non-alcoholic Lyre’s cocktails look, taste and sashay around the palate just like the original alcoholic version. Bartenders in Singapore are becoming increasingly comfortable with whipping up non-alcoholic cocktails, especially as you don’t have to change the recipes at all when you use Lyre’s spirits. Through the amazing non-alcoholic drinks that the bars come up with, consumers are then presented with these unforgettable taste experiences which is enough to educate and convince them.”
Crafted from 26 individually selected Asian botanicals, Singapore-based Melati was designed as a restorative non-alcoholic aperitif. A complex palate-setter, Melati is at once refreshingly fruity, floral, and spicy. With a classic spritz serve, drinkers can build one-part Melati and one-part tonic or soda water in a wine glass over ice, garnishing with an orange slice. Melati can also be combined with alcohol to create a low ABV cocktail.
Non-alcoholic spirits brand Lyre’s has crafted the world’s most comprehensive range of alcohol-free spirits and liquors, revolutionising the way we drink. Whether it’s a boozy brunch, laidback happy hour or a special celebration, the Australian-based brand places emphasis on the freedom of being able to opt for a low or no ABV tipple, no matter the occasion. With that in mind, Lyre’s has teamed up with some of Singapore’s favourite drinking spots – Manhattan, Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall and DON HO – to create inspiring non-alcoholic cocktails and offer guests an entirely different drinking experience. Indulge in the Vega from Manhattan which showcases the Lyre’s American Malt mixed with clarified apple juice, chamomile ole Saccharum and lapsang souchong tea, the Isn’t Life Grape, which is a mix of Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso, white grapes, red wine vinegar, egg white and soda or the Grapefruit Spritzer with Lyre’s Italian Spritz, grapefruit, grapefruit soda and olives.
Whether you’re looking to cut down, cut out or just try something new, Big Drop has crafted a great beer for any beer lover. These alcohol-free craft beers are of the highest quality of care, skill and innovation. Known for having bolder, hoppier flavours, it’s all about thinking outside the box to brew what beer drinkers love. Opt for the alcohol-free craft lager, which is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. The libation features light herbal and floral hop aromas, a hint of caramel with peppered spiciness on the palate and a touch of orange at the end.
Responding to global moderation trends and consumers seeking alcohol-free alternatives, McGuigan’s winemakers set out to find a way to make generous fruit-forward and balanced wine, just with the alcohol removed. The result is McGuigan Zero, a range of zero-alcohol wines featuring the same high-quality and varietal characteristics you would expect from full-strength wine, free from alcohol yet full in flavour.
Circuit breaker has seemed to help us unearth our secret talents, with many flourishing into bakers, baristas and bartenders overnight. Now that we’ve slowly but surely emerged out of lockdown, most of us are more than happy to hand the baton back to the experts. While most bakeries and cafes remained open for takeaway, what we’ve missed most is an artfully crafted cocktail, shaken or stirred right before our eyes. Though bars in Singapore haven’t technically been given the green light to reopen yet, the V&VPR team have put together a list of places where you can already treat yourself to a well-deserved celebratory drink, while staying responsible of course! We’ve also included a few stellar delivery options for those who aren’t ready to venture out just yet.
For the Design & Ambience
Known for its impressive gin tower and Gatsby-esque interiors, ATLAS is a clear winner if you’re looking to treat yourself. You’ll be whisked away on a sensorial journey from the moment you step into the Art Deco bar; stunning champagne-hued drapery, striking gold and bronze balconies, and, of course, the intricately crafted gin cocktails. Said to own the most diverse collection of gin in the world, with over 1,000 bottles of the spirit, this is a far cry from your personal circuit breaker stash. Fret not if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed — all you have to do is tell the team your favourite gin and flavours, and they’ll recommend a concoction made just for you.
No attention to detail and design was spared with Barbary Coast. Inspired by the district in San Francisco of the same name during the mid-1800s, the dual-concept bar spans two floors of three historic shophouses. Designed by award-winning hospitality design and branding studio EDG Design, the establishment holds two unique concepts under one roof – The Ballroom and The DeadFall – bringing to life both the grit and glory of the gold mining era. While the lush Ballroom on the second floor remains closed for now, immerse yourself in the rough, ready and rustic vibes of The Deadfall. New must-try cocktails from their refreshed menu include the French Highball with Remy Martin Cognac and Soda, as well as Tommy’s Margarita with Mezcal, Lime and Agave.
For the Fresh Air
Inspired by Havana’s glory days and Capella Singapore‘s distinctive old world charm, Bob’s Bar is the ultimate tropical escape to get your dose of fresh air. Step outdoors to the Terrace and unwind on plush daybeds with a magnificent view of the lush foliage. There’s no other place we would rather be to celebrate our new-found freedom, soaking in sweeping sea views while sipping on bespoke cocktails on the breezy terrace. V&VPR tip: Bob’s Bar is offering a special cocktail from now until 31st July so make a date with your mates and nab an al fresco spot (limited to groups of five of course)! Capella Singapore is also reopened for staycations, so make yourself a room reservation if you want direct access to this Havana haven all day long.
Instagrammable neon sign? Check. Spacious open-air seating? Check. Fusion bar grub and delicious cocktails? Check and check. Although one of Singapore’s first rooftop bars, Loof seems to have been designed especially for our new normal, with all the elements needed for a good time, while still abiding to safety and social distancing measures. We’ve missed indulging in their iconic chili crab waffle fries and their BCM grilled cheese paired with a medley of Southeast Asian inspired cocktails. We’ll be having a Lychee Bubble Tea cocktail please, to make up for the months of being bubble tea-free.
For the Adventurous
Departing from its previous digs in Boat Quay, Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall reopens on Haji Lane, just in time for phase 2. Retaining its distinctly local flair, the cocktails here focus on classics that are embellished and reimagined with a nod to well-loved Singaporean drinks. The menu ranks the drinks on a sliding scale of lethal-ness and bitterness, taking reference from kopitiam words po (Hokkien for ‘thin’ or ‘weak’) to gao (‘thick’). On the po side, there’s the Gin Fizz; for something in the mid-range, try the Blood & Sand, or go all-out gao with the rye whisky-based Old Pal.
Ranking No. 6 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020, Native has been a true trailblazer. Led by Vijay Mudaliar, the bar takes its inspiration from the local and regional landscape, serving cocktails with foraged ingredients, from jasmine blossom to turmeric leaves. Perhaps most well-known for its weird and wonderful cocktail Antz (featuring ants scavenged from around Ann Siang Hill), this award-winning establishment is for the adventurous among us.
For the Homebodies
Homebound Happy Hours are ideal for those of us who are still reticent about going out and about. LAIBA is Asia’s first premium bottled cocktail brand, bringing signature cocktails to your doorstep expertly curated by award-winning mixologist Michael Chen, considered one of the best in Asia. The cocktails come perfectly premade in sleek bottles so you don’t have to worry about the ratios and recipes. We love the refreshing Passion De-Light with cucumber vodka, lemon and passion fruit, as well as the Twisted Negroni with strawberry and rosemary infused gin, Campari, Cinzano Rosso and Punt e Mes.
This cocktail delivery brand has absolutely nailed its design – we would order from them just to get our hands on their kitschy bottles. Their cocktails live up to the hype – choose from six different options, from Kiki’s Osmanthus Yuzu Gin to Kiki’s Sangria. They’ve also launched an exclusive travel range, inspired by cities such as Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. This one’s perfect for all those getting cabin fever to get a taste of wanderlust without having to leave your couch.