Gilded rituals. Old world glamour. Time honoured traditions. These are the associations I often have with St. Regis hotels around the world. By extension, those are the same associations I have with Astor Bar (named after the founding family), a venue found at every St. Regis worldwide.
In a recent update, the Astor Bar in Singapore (and around the world) have unveiled a beverage menu featuring 40 new concoctions. It’s a hefty list, and it includes a good range of Bloody Marys that all Astor Bars are so known for, including a local take on it using chilli padi.
But my attention is fixated on its 15 signature drinks inspired by the neighbourhoods of New York City (Lower Manhattan, Midtown, Upper Manhattan, East Side and West Side), that’s conceptualised in homage to The St. Regis New York, the original House of Astor.
In Singapore, mixologist Yvonne Tay puts her own spin on the recipes using uniquely local infusions, even as she stays true to the concept with drinks dedicated to the Big Apple. That balance of localisation and conceptual integrity is, in my books, what makes the new menu shine.
Take the Tong Wars (S$24) for example, dedicated to NYC’s Chinatown where Chinese gang wars erupted back in the ‘20s. A mix of chili bitters, lime, ginger beer, spiced honey and apple, plus a Chinese plum vodka infused in-house, it offers a combination of spicy and sour flavours not often found in a refreshing drink. It also makes for the perfect first drink.
If Tong Wars is adventurous and explosive, then A Sip of Gilded Age (S$26) is anything but. On the other end of the spectrum of offerings is this classy, elegant drink some might describe as elevated ribena. But to simply leave it as that discounts the myriad of sensations this cocktail offers.
An elixir of cognac, manzanilla sherry, blackberry liqueur, ruby port and bitters, it’s a regal sort of drink meant to be sipped slowly as you lounge on a plush sofa. Deep, dark and lingering, you’ll be left feeling just a tad lighter on your feet after relishing each and every last drop.
Yet, a personal favourite has got to be the Calle Catorce (S$24). A mixture of gin, mezcal, sherry and tonic might sound like a simple and heady potion, but the addition of a manchego infusion quickly transforms a good drink into something great. Dry, savoury with just a hint of smoke and cheese funk, it excites the olfactory senses in one of the most complete and pleasant ways I’ve known in my many years of tastings.
While there’s plenty more to try from the New York menu, do check out the new Violet Hour offerings too. Named after their evening ritual that happens at 6pm daily, the Violet Hour starts with a complimentary tasting of their eponymous Violet Hour Martini ($26), which you should then definitely order a full portion of.
This take on the Martini is floral, citrusy and potent, and the purple hue lends it that bit of grandiose to make the imbibing that much more special. The titular Violet Hour itself is also a nice touch by Astor Bar to include a ritual that creates a crescendo of sorts, sparking off an otherwise ordinary, austere night at the bar.
With this renewed experience, I think we can now safely add to the associations we have of Astor Bar. Along with its storied legacy, I think a modern inventiveness and casual daring tailored to the fancy of today’s bar goers have propelled Astor saliently upwards.
As hotel bars go, there is clearly another one in Singapore to watch keenly.
Astor Bar is located at The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911.
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.