If only learning more about Singapore’s history and heritage was as fun as it is at Origin Bar, Shangri-La’s swanky new watering hole. Deep emerald greens walls, dark woods furniture and low amber lights deck the lush interior, which was inspired by train stations from a bygone era of men in top hats and ladies in long flowy dresses, it truly felt like stepping back in time.
With a distinct cocktail menu inspired by five different districts, Orchard, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay, bar manager Adam Bursik will take you on a journey to discover and celebrate the unique characteristics of various neighbourhoods in Singapore.
I started with their namesake, Origin ($22). Inspired by Orchard Road, with its rich history of abundant fruit orchards and spice plantations like nutmeg and peppers, and of course, Shangri-La. A refreshing tropical drink, its sweet tangy pineapple complimented the hint of pepper and nutmeg that gave a tinge of spice for an exciting bite. A nice introductory drink that’s simple with a bit of flare.
With an emphasis on Ying and Yang, drinks from Chinatown takes inspiration from ingredients like herbs and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Berry Cup ($22) is not made with your typical smoothie ingredients. The mix of hawthorn berry, longan, goji and lime gave it a refreshing and zesty flavour with a tinge of herbaceous undertones, with the rum balancing out the lighter flavours a bit of body. It isn’t a sweet drink, however it does come with a “Sweet Bun” that, again, balances the whole experience. Just don’t go gulping it in one bite cause it’s really sweet.
As aromatic as the spices found in Little India, so are the drinks from this section. I tried the Leaf The Curry ($23), a rich drink with bold flavours from its curry leaf, tamarind and cardamom. First whiff of the drink filled my nose with the smell of its spices. It was smokey with a tinge of sweetness from the aged rum that gave just the right amount of sweetness to entice you to have more.
Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, and Boat Quay was the epicenter of trade and ingredients brought in by early settlers. Buona Vista ($23), which means good view in Italian, was the first district early Italian immigrants settled in Singapore, which was what inspired the drink. Smooth and bittersweet, like a delicious cold brew, it’s coffee cream, chocolate shavings and campari mimics the characteristics of a coffee while tasting like a sophisticated cocktail. It reminded me of a Negroni, which I’m usually not a big fan of, but I would certainly have this again.
10 years ago, the Marina Bay area was just a piece of reclaimed land, now it’s one of the busiest tourist destination. Inspired by the power of possibilities, Adam truly let his imagination run rampant in these selection. I had The Pearl ($26), beautifully presented in a ceramic replica of a clamshell. Looking at its ingredients like tofu, elderflower, sea grapes shochu and black forest gin might have you scratching your head, but the results we surprisingly delicious. Smooth and sweet, first taste reminded me of the an almond pudding. I couldn’t really taste any alcohol, but maybe after four drinks my taste buds have been over saturated by alcohol. If you love a sweeter cocktail, you won't be disappointed.
I truly love bars like Origin, a posh yet cozy bar where you can sip and enjoy the more intricate side of cocktails. With an earnest understanding of its source material and an innovative menu, a trip to Shangri-La would be well worth the experience.