Singapore Cocktail Festival Village (SGCF) 2017 – Great ambience, possibly overrated drinks.

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Despite being on call on friday AND sunday of the SGCF weekend, we managed to trudge down to 99 beach road for the 2017 edition of the Singapore Cocktail Festival. The publicity for the event was quite good seeing that we were inundated with loads of ads the weeks leading up to it. Although it could also be that our constant googling for booze related terms somehow tipped off the google and facebook algorithms… Haha!

Retrospective sidenote: How fit is this lady ahead of us in the queue?! 
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We were excited about the 9 different themed cocktail rooms, with a few well known bars in SG showcasing their festival specific creations. Ranging from 28 HKS (which we are still dying to try), Nutmeg and Clove (which we enjoyed here), and Mitzo and crackerjack.With free entry and at $12 a cocktail, it was not hard to convince us to spend our Saturday date night at SGCF instead!

Due to the our packed schedule, we did miss many of the events leading up to the SGCF. There seemed to be a buzz surrounding many local bars with promotions and specials in view of it… but our full time jobs would have none of it!

99 beach road was an interesting location. If we’re not mistaken, it was the site of the old beach road police station with its old conservation buildings. There was an Old-Singapore charm mixed with equal elements of old army camp and all the makings of the perfect ghost story. But with the crowd and the efforts of the organising commitee to dress up the place, its old colonial charm did shine through. The crowd was moderate, which we appreciated.

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The ambience was great with the in house DJ. There was also a dedicated food street selling snacks like truffle fries and other knick knacks, to food ranging from poke bowls to tacos. The food was a little price for the portion size, but pretty decent.

We managed to explore:

  1. Specially made drinks from the congregation of local bars – these drinks reflect Singapore’s urban landscape and cultural diversity. There were drinks such as Lion city sour (sesame oil and chicken rice chilli), Shiok collins (chilli padi infused gin). We dont really like gimmicky drinks so we tried the following:

Mexican Dreams in the foreground and Sippy Cup in the background 

    • Mexican Dreams (Mitzo): This was an interesting drink with the base spirit being a capsicum infused tequila. There were also supposedly other things like lemon juice, lapsang souchong syrup in this drink but it was unfortunately a pretty flat drink with a mild spicy capsicum kick, a sweet body (likely the syrup but no tea) very little else and almost no aftertaste. We did enjoy the frothy head from the egg white though!
    • Sippy Cup: Sipsmith London gin, earl grey tea, green apple, lemon seltzer. This was a very herbaceous drink likely because of the generous sprig of mint, quite refreshing with a little green apple but we did not taste the earl grey which was slightly disappointing.

 

2.         The Artisanal spirits room**

We loved this room! For 19 bucks we had 4 tickets to try different spirits in the room. We went with friends so with 8 tickets between us we had a jolly good time. Typically you get to taste a small sample of the spirit in your tasting cup, then possibly a small amount of cocktail in said cup. I cant say enough good things about this room. Some of our favourites include:

  • Black Cow pure milk vodka – vodka made from the whey byproduct in the production of cheese. These was a very clean tasting vodka. S said that there was a very distinct milky flavour in the vodka – it blew her mind. B was too busy eating the cheese. The Black Cow deluxe cheddar (the same cheese that produces the whey) was oh-so-creamy and went perfectly with the vodka. We bought this vodka in the end. $100 is pretty steep but we can already forsee enjoying this with friends over a cheese platter.


  • Maracatu Cahacha – we’ve never had cahacha neat, but wow the sugarcane aftertaste was so clean and refreshing we could not help but love this. Maybe all Cahacha is like this, we’ll have to try more to find out!

  • Caorunn Gin – B liked this gin. It had a very peppery spicy aftertaste as opposed to the citrus flavours we’re so accustomed to in the Beefeater 24 and Tanqueray.
  • Phraya Rum: This was a delicious aged rum from Thailand. It was dangerously smooth and reminded us of whisky. We’re gonna hunt this down during our next trip to thailand!

3.         Bols and Snow Leopard Room

  • Himalayan Sour: Snow leopard vodka, berries, and definitely fanta grape. Free-pouring looks cool but the quality and colour of the drinks run the gamut. The bartenders were well dressed and charming but it was an uninspiring cocktail soft drink. All we tasted was Fanta grape!

4.       Room of illusions.

This was a cool room with an almost Alice in wonderland theme. There was a pretty cool art-work that changed colours under the UV lights.We had a Paloma here that tasted really sweet and syrupy. Completely missing the freshness and tart that makes the Paloma refreshing and great.

We did miss out on other exciting things such as the Asia bar battle and the workshops partially because we did very little research beforehand and also because there were close to no signs in the festival village telling us what activities were taking place. Also B was working the next day so we had to leave early.

Verdict:

Our favourite was definitely the artisanal spirits room! Small batch spirits made with care, highlighting the quality of its ingredients. We walked away with a couple of winners that we’re excited to try next in our cocktails. The actual cocktails in the cocktail rooms really disappointed us but there’s always next year. These festivals tend to focus more on profit than quality of drink so in the meantime we’ll enjoy some well made and balanced cocktails in reputable local bars instead. We see a few raving reviews on instagram – not sure if we just had the wrong drinks or if its all #instafilter

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