Singapore Bling

Following our road trip from London to Amsterdam, me and M decided to take a little wine break. The holiday was off course relaxing, however, when you have so many great restaurants to visit, it is inevitable that there will be a lot of wine on the trip. And so we decided to have a “phast” for the remainder of August. It has actually been convenient as I have had an obscene amount of work to do. I have been preparing for one of the highlights of this year, closing in fast in September; I have been invited to SLUSH start up conference in Singapore to promote Tripsteri with Business Finland – can you believe that! So to celebrate that, we are building a Singapore SLUSH special in the app, and it will feature a lot of my tips and tricks from this blog. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I thought I would give a few teasers out in this post on what can be expected. Continue reading “Singapore Bling”

Bangkok Bar Secrets

Secret bars – what do I think about them? To be honest, I am a bit torn. I don’t want to go to a bar because it is hidden, I want to go because the drinks are good. Of course its a fun concept, I don’t mind that, but sometimes it attracts a bit of an odd crowd. In Bangkok though, the best bars are hidden ones, and I dare to claim that I can now give a very competitive top-3 view. Continue reading “Bangkok Bar Secrets”

Cocktails and Ships at Bottles Pop-Up Bar, Stockholm

Imagine old wooden chairs and tables, figureheads and miniature ships. And imagine holding a rum cocktail with zesty lemon peel and a huge ice cube floating in the middle. There is no music, just steady murmur coming from the other tables and the clinking of ice against your glass. There is no rush, and the calm bar invites you to relax.

Bottles Pop-Up bar is all about the drinks. It is run by three Stockholm bartenders with merits from Little Quarter, Shibumi and Lilla Nygatan. The Pop-Up bar has an interesting concept, it moves around within the Gamla Stan restaurant scene, and the theme changes with every venue. Right now it is located in the Victory Hotel (the Congress Center) and houses a theme loyal to the venue style. I have previously written to you about Tweed, the semi-speakeasy cocktail bar inside the hotel (review here). Bottles current style is similar, however it feels less clubby and more genuine. Other venues will include restaurants (by the same owner) in the Gamla Stam/ Lilla Nygatan are: Pubologi, Djuret, Svinet, Lejontornet, Tweed and Burgundy.

I was at Bottles for some afterwork drinks with fellow Yelpers. We arrived early, around 6pm and had no trouble finding a seat. Ok, we even had a reservation, but we would have found a seat nonetheless. We were offered a drinks menu with around seven different cocktails that all were named after ships of past and present. Ingredients included all of the usual suspects: rum, gin, tequila and bourbon. I was perhaps a bit disappointed that the spirits used were quite main stream: Bacardi, London Dry and other big brands (very un-hipster). The mixers were the ones to set the mood with tastes of rosehip, marinated fruits and ginger ale. Every cocktail was named after a boat and had a story, which the bartenders introduced when serving the drinks. I had a Carina II with variations of old wine (tasted a bit like fortified wine), grapefruit and champagne, and a Rumbullion with Bacardi, Havanna Club, Captain Morgan, Barbancourt and Gunroom and Sour. Both cocktails were very good and fit the historic atmosphere of the hotel.

All in all, a fun concept with spiced with tasty drinks and great service. I am already excited about where the bar moves next and looking forward to exploring what kind of drinks the other venues have to offer.

Reviving the reputation of Punch

It’s Thursday again and I am in the mood for cocktails! I think I will be having some wine tonight, but still writing about cocktails gets me in the appropriate holiday mood. However, today I will not be writing about a traditional cocktail bar, the Punch Room is something else! It is not only a bar, it is the revival of a drink long forgotten on the restaurant scene, the punch.

The bar is located in the new Marriott London Edition hotel in Fitzrovia. It is a back room bar, not really visible from the street and it is reservation only. I am sure you can get a seat when its not that busy even without a reservation, but if you are intent on going, don’t leave it up to chance. The bar is located past the reception through a door on the left. If the doors is closed you may need to ask to be escorted in. The bar consists of two rooms, the first is fairly small and does not really look that nice or cozy. The inner room however has a fire place and a nice looking bar with comfortable seating.

Upon being seated we received a small glass each of the seasonal special punch as a welcome drink. Nice little touch and something I appreciate. As the name suggests the focus is on punch that can be ordered to share. Other things can be ordered as well, like wine, beer and some cocktails (and they also do food – made by the kitchen from Berner’s Tavern) but we were there for the real deal, the house punch. Traditionally punch consisits of five ingredients (one of which is definitely not tinned fruit salad): an alcohol base, tea, some sugar to sweeten, lemon to sour, and spice. The House Punch was faithful to this combination with London Gin, lemon, oak moss syrup, orange blossom water and jasmine tea.

The punch was served in a really nice looking bowl with cool glasses and the appropriate decorations. The taste was fresh with light sweetness. The drink had a kick to it and there was plenty so we had to be a bit careful and not gulp it down too fast. The concept would perhaps work even better for a large group as one could then sample loads of different ones. Service was fast and attentive. Price level was as to be expected in London with around 14£ per person for a punch bowl (right now though the exchange rate would kill me).

Perhaps it is the house parties of the 90’s or my student years that steered my low expectations for punch, but the Marriot Punch room was the one to revive them. I am sure I will be back as I appreciate the different concept and being able to book a table (I am the planning type). So if in London, give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

The hidden molecule bar at Operation Dagger, Singapore

Here is a treat for you for cocktail-Thursday: Operation Dagger, a speakeasy with a hint of mad scientist potential. Located in a basement on Ann Siang Hill, next to the famous Club street, the stairway to the bar is hidden behind a simple glass door. The only identification is the small logo, unnoticeable if you are not looking for it. We were out on a Saturday night and surprisingly there was not that much people coming and going to give away what is inside.

The decor is industrial meets Scandinavian minimalism (read: upper-class hipster). There are not that many seats, but the space is airy (despite being in a cellar) and I could imagine standing around would not be too laborious. There is a long bar with shelves and shelves of ingredients in plain brown and white jars. I did spot a past acquaintance from my days working for a paint company, a bottle of Titanium dioxide (white pigment). I cant’ believe they use that for drinks (should not be dangerous, but yuk), and wonder what else is in the jars. There is a laboratory next to the bar area, which I suspect is where the magic is invented by the house drinks master.

The drinks list is small but creative with around 6-8 interesting cocktails and some beers and wine. We went for a Sugarcane with some chili, cinnamon and pandan flavors, a Hot n Cold (Hot on top, cold on the bottom) that was more like a liquid dessert and the Mulled wine, which is pretty much what the name suggests but prepared in a syphon with some impressive flame-action and fresh fruit. All the drinks were very good, and I am almost disappointed we did not have time for another round; the Egg sounded interesting.

Price-wise Operation Dagger is equivalent to other nice cocktail bars in Singapore with prices of around 22-25 SGD (13-16€). It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Staff are friendly and take time to prepare your drinks. This is a perfect place for an after dinner drink or as a kick-start to a club-night.