I was a wee bit skeptical when first reading about the new ‘scent over spirit’ cocktail ‘programme’ from Tippling Club that features drinks like ‘Rain’ – it all sounded too gimmicky and post-modern for my taste. I was happily proven wrong however, as the attention to detail, passion, and quality of ingredients behind this endeavour make for an experience unlike anything else the city has to offer. Most importantly, these are some capital D-elicious cocktails created by a top-notch mixologist who truly loves his craft.
Head bartender Joe Schofield worked with IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.) and Chef-Owner Ryan Clift to craft the “Sensorium Menu”, a flavour-forward cocktail experience that emphasizes smell and memory over the actual alcohol. This was a months-long process, and the first of its kind in Singapore.
When you go for a drink or meal at Tippling Club you’ll be welcomed by an array of scent choices:
Each slip has been dipped into the fragrance and is inscribed with the drink ingredients; you choose cocktails based on the fragrances that attract you most. They are all priced the same at $22 to further encourage you to pick based on aroma, not pricing or spirit.
This is me rereading the Negroni slip for the fifth time to make sure I understood it correctly – yes, “soundwaves” make an appearance in this tipple. Here the team uses ultrasonic soundwaves to create a barrel-aged flavour with the fragrance more quickly.
The ultrasonic sound machine is on the right:
Now that’s some mad(ly delicious) science.
Scientists estimate that 80% of the flavours we taste come from our sense of smell, so Joe wanted to ensure that the fragrances they crafted would stir deeply-rooted memories to make for a more complex and fulfilling drink experience.
While there are 12 selections, below are my four favourites:
1. Campfire (on left)
A soothing concoction of smoky campfire fragrance, marshmallow milk, burnt syrup, ash, and gin that took me straight back to starry nights spent under the stars, huddled by a crackling fire in the North American wilderness. Disclaimer: I’m not a gin fan and I don’t particularly like marshmallows, yet here I am waxing poetic about this drink. It’s just that good.
The homemade charred marshmallow provided a superb, melt-in-your-mouth sweetness without being too overpowering, and the smoky mix of flavours combined so well with the woodsy overtones of gin that I felt like I was tasting this memory. Mind BLOWN, again.
Joe’s personal favourite, the cocktail involves rain fragrance, stone, citrus, soda, and vodka – think the most layered and tasty vodka soda ever. The ‘stone’ is actually a crunchy edible clay garnish that sits atop the drink like a dark Singaporean storm cloud. As you sip and bite it becomes soft, creating a wondrous mix of earthy and citrus flavours. FYI Joe and Chef Ryan spend at least 10-15 hours a week JUST on cocktail garnishes like this edible stone. Now that’s dedication.
A smoky concoction that pairs whisky, Pedro Ximenez (sweet dessert sherry), and notes of orange and vanilla with a fragrance that legitimately smells like leather. Like, really nice leather that you’re tempted to take a bite of (anyone, ever? Just me? Okay). It’s luxurious and down-to-earth all at once, and smooth enough to accentuate the best flavour components of whisky. I imagine a range of leather-tinged memories that this one could stir up, but let’s just focus on those indulgent moments of extravagance and material newness that we too seldom get to enjoy.
It’s telling that I enjoyed most the cocktails that involved my least favourite alcohols – tequila is by far at the bottom of my list, and if I were to choose based on spirit I never would have picked this one. Grass manages to combine a grassy fragrance, dill, anise, citrus, and tequila in one of the most refreshing and innovative glasses of alcohol I’ve had this year. Picture a warm sunny day lounging on a hill, you sipping on an ice cold lemonade while running your hand through the freshly mowed grass – that’s what this tastes like.
Joe was genuinely excited to share his thought process behind the creation of this menu, and it was downright infectious. After hearing him talk for a few minutes it was clear – this fabulously talented team does not rely on gimmicks to push the boundaries of F&B. I’m still holding on to the scent slips, by the way. The tasting is now embedded as a fresh, warm memory that lingers in the back of my mind intertwined with smells of cool rain, campfire, and grassy hills. My notebook actually still smells like campfire though.
Find it at 38 Tanjong Pagar Road
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