Where alcohol meets mad science: Singapore’s exploding cocktail scene

SINGAPORE: The sun beat down mercilessly on Vijay Mudaliar as he stood stock-still, brows furrowed, surveying a tree trunk with the intensity of a neurosurgeon at the operating table.

“Sorry ladies,” he finally told us with a sigh. “No ants today.”

This statement would usually be greeted with good cheer – for most of us, ants are pests to be squished. But for Vijay, founder of cocktail bar Native, it meant he’d be short of a key ingredient for his signature drink, ‘Antz’.

The bar uses more than 20 ants in each cocktail. Most of them are blended with other ingredients like tapioca and soursop. The rest are sprinkled on top of a bed of basil leaf and basil meringue, and dipped into liquid nitrogen to create a bite-sized treat for the customer.

So far, more than 50,000 ants – some from ant farms in Thailand and others foraged sustainably from around Singapore – have been used in the drink.

While some might dismiss ‘Antz’ as a gimmick, Vijay insists that it’s thinking out of the box. “There are a lot of different ways of adding acidity to your cocktails, be it the usual citric acid found in limes and lemons, or formic acid,” the 28-year-old said.

An ‘Antz’ cocktail at Native contains over 20 ants.

“Weaver ants contain formic acid, and they’re quite big, so when you pop it in your mouth they taste almost like limes or lemons.”

Vijay is among the growing number of bartenders here who are experimenting with increasingly bolder ingredients and making more conceptual drinks, as Singapore’s cocktail scene explodes.

From just a handful of bars serving up the usual Old Fashioned and Mojito less than a decade ago, many now popping up around the island are competing to redefine the cocktail.

Bartenders credit Singaporeans’ sense of adventure and the island’s easy access to a variety of Asian ingredients and spirits, as well as the diversity of cocktail talents, for its vibrant cocktail scene.

Last year, Singapore beat regional rivals Hong Kong and Tokyo to clinch the title of Asia’s bar capital. The Singapore Cocktail Festival was also held for the first time in March, drawing thousands of attendees.


Full Story at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/where-alcohol-meets-mad-science-singapore-s-exploding-cocktail-8909362

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