I’m not going to pretend to understand art. As far as I’m concerned, the value of your Monets and Pollocks went out the window when Comedian sold for USD120,000 two years ago. Yes, the banana duct-taped to the wall. Which the owner is to replace every time the fruit ripens as per the artist’s instruction.
It’s not to say I don’t love it (art, not the taped banana—well… the ingenuity of both, sure). It’s the very subjectivity of art that curators and general plebian appreciators like me enjoy. The very purpose in creation to evoke an emotion, or at the very least a reaction. Where there are no wrong answers, much like head bartender Andrew Loudon’s approach to his drinks.
“We wanted a menu that’s relatable, but also a conversation starter,” Loudon says of the 26 concoctions. Drawing from modern art and celebrated artists, they are divided into Champagne Cocktails, Cocktails, Rocks, Highballs, Through the Ages, Mocktails and Classics using Lord Ryan’s Prohibition Gin; the spice-driven collaboration with Prohibition Liquor Co.
When conceiving an updated range with chef-owner Ryan Clift, Loudon tells me that it starts with a horizontal line dividing the types of ingredients above and the potential procedures below, then connecting them with vertical lines across. If that sounds visually familiar, look to the bar’s logo.
Nighthawks makes a fine example with its zero-waste garnish of plum meringue filled with the repurposed curd from the cocktail’s clarification process. Bearing guava, salted caramel, tequila and soda, it’s also one flavour profile that evolves with each sip.
Some of the other odes go to Kandinsky, Basquiat and Dalì, but if you’re feeling absolutely baller, the Andy Warhol-inspired Dollar Sign (SGD125) blends Louis XIII, champagne, Okinawan Kokuto sugar and bitters. Oh, then complement your order with the Wagyu Beef Tartare Tartlet.
If we frame the bar as a gallery and the drinks artworks, Through the Ages makes the Vieux Carré
an interactive installation. Presented in a flight for the first time at Tippling Club, the cognac-based cocktail showcases different ageing techniques used by cocktail bars worldwide.
The exploration ages the exact same recipe through traditional techniques like wood and leather to the unconventional clay pot and the modern sonic homogeniser, which alters the liquid at molecular level. Each is available individually, but taking them altogether with the Control cocktail made à la minute completes the experience.
It’s like a fun social experiment. Loudon declined getting into tasting notes to prevent tainting my
judgement, so when I finally finished the flight to opine my perceived differences between the variations, admittedly with a tinge of expectation, it was almost funny when he simply considered my statements before impartially stating that there were no wrong answers.
He did later graciously divulge which had been the popular ones (and it would just make my night if the plot twist was that the whole thing was a placebo setup where none of them had been aged, which he also assured me that it wasn’t), which is why I’d recommend trying the flight with a friend just to get into an alcohol-fuelled debate on whose tastebuds are superior.
Alongside the innovative and, shall we aptly say, abstract tipples that the 13-year-old bar is recognised for, I’m not going as far as to call any of them a masterpiece, but they’re certainly works to contemplate and conversate.
Tippling Club is at 38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088461.