The two most recognisable cocktail bars in Singapore have recently updated their offerings. Both Jigger & Pony and Atlas, with new head bartenders at the helm, are dishing out brand new menus that harken back to core philosophies – albeit very different ones.
At Jigger & Pony, bar manager Uno Jang and his team digs deep for their newly launched Identity menu (done in a menuzine style, along with a logo update), which asks existential questions about themselves and the people they work with. Specifically, it probes into one’s aspirations, visions, fears, and concerns.
Emphasising on an individual’s future self, Jang says: “Each cocktail in this menu highlights our strengths, diversity of ideas we stand for, and the stories of our bar, bartenders and community, all of which contribute to our identity.”
That future looking slant is key for the award-winning bar. With a multitude of accolades already under their belt, including being widely known as the top bar in Singapore, the question of ‘What’s next?’ becomes ever more salient.
“I still don’t have answers,” admits Jang. “But by asking many questions in this new menu, we have crafted cocktails that show the importance of pushing ourselves even further.”
They’ve adopted the position of an industry leader, addressing foundational issues like sustainability and sourcing with drinks like the Ugly Tomatoes and Honey Magnum (all cocktails on Jigger & Pony’s menu go for S$28 a glass).
The former uses imperfect but still perfectly edible heirloom tomatoes to create a delicious twist on the Bloody Mary, while the latter is a cocktail made using raw honey gathered from local urban apiaries.
This spirit of digging deep to find a core central belief and motivation is parallel with Atlas’ new offering in essence, with their newly released Simple Pleasures menu looking at drinking in purer terms of enjoyment and, dare we say, hedonism.
Taking a grand (as always) and revelrous tone, head bartender Lidiyanah ‘Yana’ K with her team through this menu seeks to celebrate “the simplicity of well-made cocktails and the pleasures that transcend time.” This is also Yana’s first time dishing out her own beverage menu since taking on the top job.
The menu is divided into four categories sorted by classics, namely Martini, Sour, Old Fashioned, and Champagne Cocktail. Each houses five drinks, with one of them being Atlas’ signature, and one being a non-alcoholic concoction.
Much in line with the pleasure-seeking concept is the rich and spirited Valley of the Ashes (S$25), a mixture of bourbon and rum together with an Italian bitter liqueur and a homemade pomelo-lime oleo saccharum. A garnish of bitter chocolate square adds to the decadence of the drink.
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What has us intrigued most however is The Occidental (S$26), a brilliant martini style creation by Yana herself. This high ABV cocktail is the result of much experimentation using limoncello as part of the mix. The result is a bracing concoction that has the freshness of lemon integrated throughout, rather than sensed (often overpoweringly so) only during the first couple of sips, as is the case with peel expressions.
Meanwhile, the Hope on the Horizon (S$14) is a non-alcoholic cocktail made using a homemade kombucha and yuzu citrus to give it a fermented, acidic note as you’d find in a usual alcoholic drink. It’s definitely one of the few zero ABV cocktails out there that we’d have again and again.
For Atlas, there is a definite shift towards making the menu easier to grasp for newcomers. Other than the clearly defined categories, the alcohol percentages of each drink is now also stated. We find that a thoughtful addition, though not one that mattered for seasoned tipplers.
What Jigger & Pony’s Identity menuzine does different is categorising its cocktails through just two broad sections: What Got Us Here and Where Are We Going. One celebrates the past and the other the future, continuing its prevailing emphasis through plenty of editorial and storytelling.
It’s how they are recognising that the twists on classics they’ve been doing so well the past 10 years is what got them to their apex position in the global bar scene, while still forging something future-forward in their 11th year running.
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One way they are doing that is by simply doing classics, without any renditions, but with an improvement of their own. Take their Dirty Martini, which follows the tried and true recipe, but using their own homemade brine that ensures not just consistency, but elevated enjoyment.
That act of evolving the menu to a certain degree, resulting in just enough change to keep things fresh, but not overly so in order to maintain enough sameness and familiarity for long-time guests, is something both Jigger & Pony and Atlas are doing.
Atlas’ vaunted Atlas Martini (main image) remains on the Simple Pleasures menu and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And why should it? It remains as amazing a martini today as it was the first time it was created.
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Both being top ranking bars in Asia and the world, we can see the need for them to walk that fine line. Of not alienating your loyal customers while in the process of gaining new ones.
Perhaps that is true for most any bar that has been around for a while. We’re just happy two of Singapore’s top bars are continuing to push the envelope in their own ways – thus setting the bar while they’re at it – and not resting on their laurels.
It’s safe to say we have enough to remain contented while awaiting eagerly for their next annual update.
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.