After a long hiatus, I was glad to visit one of my favourite bars in Singapore.
Smoke & Mirrors is a rooftop bar at National Gallery Singapore, just a stone's throw away from the Central Business District. This cosy spot is the first place that comes to mind whenever I have overseas guests visiting — especially with its magnificent views of the Singapore skyline
I was greeted by the new head bartender Jorge Conde upon my arrival. Originally a graphic designer by trade, this friendly Spanish bartender incorporates his artistic talents along with various graphic design elements into his work behind the bar.
My first drink of the night was the signature Smoke & Mirrors #4 ($28). Served over a big block of ice, this clear concoction is a deadly mix of agave cooked and redistilled with strawberry, cacao-infused spirit, pure milk vodka, bamboo charcoal topped with a dash of salt and pepper. While it was a bit too strong for my liking (especially as it was my first drink of the night), it was interesting in that it tasted differently every sip. My first sip tasted bitter, to my last sip tasting somewhat sweet due to subtle hints of strawberry in the after-taste.
I was forewarned that the Peel & See ($28) is more of an acquired taste. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s iconic piece for The Velvet Underground, this gin-based cocktail is made from banana and miso combined via a multi-step process of sous-vide, dehydration and fat-washing. It's finally topped with a few droplets of olive oil. I enjoyed this cocktail, it has quite an "unexpected" taste and I recommend it to anyone adventurous enough to give it a try.
Jorge prepared something more fruity for my next cocktail. The highlight of this intriguing Picasso’s Pencil ($25) was the little story pegged to it. He shared with us that Picasso’s first word was noted as “piz”, a short form for “lapiz”, which is the Spanish word for pencil. That's the inspirationbehind the main ingredient of this cocktail, distilled pencil wood. It's paired with smokey agave, preserved lemon, fruity Manzilla sherry, apple vinegar and tonic. If you were the type to bite the top of your 2B pencil back in primary school, this cocktail might trigger a sense of nostalgia as the flavours from the distilled pencil wood were surprisingly distinctive in this drink.
Saving the best for last, the Robbery at the Museum ($28) is Smoke & Mirrors’ spin on the classic Singapore Sling. Made with Maraschino liqueur, cherry brandy and house-made cherry bitters blended with gin, fermented pineapple and a fizzy foam of aquafaba, this cocktail was without a doubt my favourite drink of the night. It was sweet, refreshing, and went down easily. I'm a fan of the Singapore Sling and have tasted many variations of the cocktail; I have to say that this is in my opinion the best rendition of the Singapore Sling yet.
As for the story behind this cocktail, Jorge tells us when there was a robbery in the museum, the robber was only identified by his white moustache and thus this is way the cocktail was created — with white foam on top giving guests a “white moustache” after every sip.
I was extremely impressed by the level of thought and detail behind all the artistic cocktail creations at Smoke & Mirrors. I foresee myself returning in the near future, and I'm looking forward to having more creative cocktails provided by Smoke & Mirrors' new head bartender Jorge Conde.
Smoke & Mirrors
#06-01, National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road
+65 9380 6313 (reachable by phone or Whatsapp)
Monday – Thursday: 3pm to 1am
Friday: 3pm to 2am
Saturday, Eve of and Day of Public Holiday: 12pm to 2am