Little has been mentioned about how cocktail-lovers and shot-guzzlers alike have been affected by 2020’s dire straits, possibly because it seems like the least important thing that needs addressing. However, the nectar of nightlife enthusiasts and casual barfolk is a more sticky affair than meets the eye. The truth is that the context in which spirits are consumed are as important as the spirits themselves. And this year, none of us are strangers to change.
With new dining regulations, closed clubs and mellowed-down social gatherings, the way we consume spirits have changed. Two of our writers candidly reflect on their evolving tastes, rediscovered loves and newfound salves.
Teo Dawn, Arts Editor
The act of consuming alcohol has shifted accordingly to our situation with Covid-19. For a period of time, bars were all closed and there was no semblance of a nightlife. Everyone stayed home without any other choice, while the entire world seemed to move on by. Staring at the familiar environment around me day in and day out, I came to realise just how much drinking has brought my friends and I together. Be it at gatherings, parties, or our favourite bar, we will all be there laughing with a fantastic drink in hand.
Now, sitting in my room with a packaged cocktail in hand, I let my imagination run wild with the taste of the drink. Letting it take me to the places I used to go to, and haven’t yet been.
I am the sort of drinker to go for signature cocktails at different bars, or a stiff drink. In truth, I might even drink any mix my friends whip up for me. Perhaps I am just adventurous that way. However, being at home has made me appreciate the classics way more. I revel in the simple enjoyment of Hendrick’s Gin and all its refreshing goodness. The whiff of cucumber, and the sweetness of the rose infusion delights me—reminding me of sunshine, a picnic in the park, and the smile of all my loved ones. It is a drink of comfort, and encouragement. A drink of warmth that is much needed for the soul.
Other times, I find myself lifting up a can of Tiger Beer to my lips. This is certainly a classic, and almost a cult symbol I associate with all things local. It is pretty much canned sunshine with its familiar taste. The National Day special of Tiger Orchid Brew was especially celebratory; a new twist of fusing the classic and the new altogether for a delicious embodiment of hopefulness.
Perhaps the classic brands aren’t all that bad to come home to, after all.
Kenneth Chia, Lifestyle and Beauty Writer
Despite drinking my fair share of amazing tipple over the years, whiskies weirdly continued to conjure childish images of well-dressed men with moustaches carefully slicing cubes of ice, or jugs of whisky coke being passed around the dancefloor. The spirit seemed both inaccessible to anyone but intimidating purists, yet deeply rooted in the casual nightlife psyche. Spirits like gin, on the other hand, reminded me of sand between my toes, heady summer evenings and linen in the breeze.
But I am a changed man.
In the midst of the crazy, I’ve found myself reaching for bottle after bottle of whisky; my largely non-alcoholic household was subjected to endless home-bar experiments featuring the amber liquid. Hot, mundane afternoons were quenched with sours and long, uncertain nights were traversed with a soothing honey-rosemary-lemon mix. Elsewhere, there were blowtorches and egg white foam. What started out as pretentious led to a rediscovery of whiskys as a spirit oozing versatility and zest. Much like the intimate thrill of new company or reconnecting with an old flame.
My latest discovery is Jack Daniel’s new Craft and Luxury Collection that Brown-Forman has blessed us all with, on a new LazMall online flagship store no less. Consisting of the Single Barrel Collection, Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold and Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select, it offers a finessed curation. Yes, even for that one friend who lets all the ice melt and dilute the good whisky.
There are of course, standouts. The Single Barrel Select is a small-batch, top-shelf stunner: its robust toastiness is tempered with a comforting caramel drizzle. A sinful pairing with a char-siew, sio-bak platter has since replaced my need for warm hugs or any other form of intimacy. After that, I cleanse my decadent ways with a smooth, lemon and bruised mint refresher with the Single Barrel Rye (70% rye grain bill for the connoisseurs out there).
If, like me, you haven’t been baking whatsoever, delivering this one-two punch at your next five-man dinner party more than makes up for it. Another joyous find is the exclusive Tennessee Rye Whiskey. First whiffs are reminiscent of stone fruits and uncloying sweetness, playing well with desserts or a sparkling ginger beer mix.
It really is good to see my home bar complete now.