We’re given the impression that Mandarin Oriental’s flagship bar does not stop. Ever since its marked nomadic concept at inception three years ago, it has gone on to be named one of Asia’s 50 best bars with its Volume Two menu, and embarked on the Nomadic Foragers guest shift programme that took the team to destinations across Asia Pacific and brought back with it stories to tell.
The medium of narration—16 distinct drinks. The bar has kept its beautifully visual menu, a source of pride and practically a signature, we’re sure. Besides sticking to the overview that displays the alcohol level of each tipple (a practice more bars should have… for prudence), Volume Three even indicates what type of ‘vessel’ you’ll be getting them in, many of which are bought or gifted from the original locations of the inspired drinks. It has newly, rightfully launched its own digital version.
The attention to detail carries on with the imagery splashed across the pages. If you’re thinking that they are generic pictorial elements, you couldn’t be more wrong. From guest bar seals to even a tattoo of one of the featured bartenders, these fill the book like embedded clues. With such keen storytelling, the stage is effectively set for the fabled cocktails.
The Singapore and thunder tea rice tribute is easily a favourite, though we’d opt for the alcoholic option of local gin to add another layer of complexity to the nutty brew. Thunder comprises no minty tinge of the actual Hakka dish’s broth, but the rice-based brim foam rounds off the drink nicely.
Those with a tendency for savoury can try White Rabbit—a Bloody Mary twist of tomato, aged black garlic, and kimchi that the team now makes in-house. Or Rubi, a Sri Lankan-inspired blend of whisky, pineapple and toddy palm so seamless that it reads off the tongue like one composite whole.
Sweeter counterparts Pastel de Ramos, a taste of Macau, concocts cognac with a satisfyingly heavy whip of custard, while the Sarimanok, the rum and mango descendent of Volume One’s Mother of Dragons, is a lot more balanced than its forerunner. To pick one from the heavyweights, white negroni variant Lion’s Den is unapologetically bitter with the palate of baijiu, ginseng, green coffee and goji berries, yet delicious when simply paired with Chinese dates.
It’s a feat that none of the full array is glazed over with each embodying a trip, a lesson, and a point of creative inspiration of the bar team. Headed by bar manager Adrian Besa and complemented with the service team’s jovial nature, it’s a journey that will leave you in high spirits.
MO Bar is located on level four of Mandarin Oriental, Singapore.