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New cocktails create quite a stir

/ 12:12 AM October 30, 2016

There is whiskey. There is wine. But bars and restaurants are upping the game these days with a lot of other options.

The Barrel Room of Wine Depot takes a detour from the usual reds by offering Armagnac.

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What used to be Purple Feet, if you remember from a decade ago (has it been that long?!), has been converted to a chill little space where you can enjoy artisanal cheese or other French deli fare at the Wine Depot on N. Garcia (formerly Reposo).

If you want to just escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and into the pages of a book, the space is open all day. Imagine getting enraptured in the latest Mitch Albom (my latest read, thanks to a soul-searching cousin) over a bottle of Pinot Noir.

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On my visit, though, Wine Depot co-founder Hazel Tolhurst surprised me with Armagnac, instead of their latest offerings of cabernet.

Armagnac is a kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in the southwest of France.

It is a pleasant diversion if you are already knowledgeable in wine.

Sips and small talk will make you learn that Armagnac is made from the Folle Blance, a grape from the Armagnac region; or sometimes from a Colombard, a French wine grape; or now even a baco blanc grape, a French-American hybrid grape variety. And that it is made using column stills, not the pot stills used in making cognac; and aged in oak barrels, like whiskey, resulting in flavors that a single malt lover can relate to.

UK paper The Independent has ranked the 8-year-old Janneau Armagnac among The Top 10 Best Armagnacs, saying, “This eight-year-old is all about inexpensive elegance. Its flavor is sophisticated for a bottle in this price range, with vanilla and date flavors strong on the tongue.”

Sipsmith cocktails at the Raffles

Sipsmith cocktails at the Raffles

Sipsmith at Raffles Long Bar

Meanwhile, English gin maker Sipsmith, the first copper distillery to launch in London and maker of handcrafted spirits, has created the Raffles 1915 Gin for Raffles Hotels worldwide to mark the 100 years of the iconic Singapore Sling. The gin, inspired by Raffles Singapore, is a concoction of Malay flavors such as jasmine flowers, fresh pomelo peel, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, nutmeg and cardamom.

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The Raffles Hotel in Singapore, as you may know, is where the Singapore Sling cocktail was born.

Created by famed bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, it is made with gin, cherry brandy, orange, pineapple and lime juice . It is a spin off from the Gin Sling, a trendy drink around 1915 in Singapore.

Bartenders at the Long Bar of Raffles Makati have been inspired by Ngiam Tong Boon (or perhaps by Raffles communications director Monique Toda and communications manager Margaux Hontiveros?) that they have created their own cocktails that potentially may become the next iconic Raffles drink.

Last week, Long Bar launched its Raffles Gin Club and five new cocktails. The Southeast Temptation is a refreshing blue cocktail made with gin, banana liquor, calamansi, lemonade, Cointreau, and for its color, blue Curacao. Ladies would love the Jasmine, which is the Raffles 1915 Gin by Sipsmith, mixed with orange liquor infused with Dragon Pearl Jasmine Tea, fresh pineapple and ginger ale.

An ode to our tropical weather, the Smith Julep looks like a summer drink, with orange and lemon juice.

Long Bar happy hour with the Garden Sling

Long Bar happy hour with the Garden Sling

For a cocktail by the pool, try the Garden Sling, so pretty with its hues of red and flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and mint leaves.

Finally, the counterpart to the Singapore Sling, hopefully, will be the Pearl of the Orient Sling, which is made with calamansi, among other ingredients. All these drinks are now available at the Long Bar.

With all these new drinks, I can’t wait to start on the Christmas reunion series and get everyone cheery in style.

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TAGS: cocktails, liquor, Sipsmith, The Barrel Room of Wine Depot
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