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Bar of the Week: Chinese herbs in cocktails? The Library proves it’s a great mix

A Chinese twist will have you returning to the expanded Keong Saik speakeasy.

What: The Library
Where: 47 Keong Saik Road
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays: 6pm to 1am.
Tel: 6221-8338

Remember how much you used to love traditional Chinese medicine and its seemingly magical healing properties before sterile Western medicine came along? Of course not. Effective as they may be, the stuff is nasty. But when its use is tweaked to restore not the body, but the soul, like the team at The Library did, you’d be more than happy to take your medicine.

Bar interior.

The four-year-old bar on Keong Saik Road welcomes its latest pop-up concept in collaboration with Chinese medicine company Eu Yan sang. The Library has committed to the theme both in appearance and in spirit, with herb charts and hangover remedies decorating its facade, as well as five specialty cocktails to mark the collaboration.

Eastern ingredients like ginseng and hawthorn shine in these novel concoctions, but we recommend you start with the Arial Italic Black (coffee-infused cognac, TCM Library vermouth, bitters) to see just how seamlessly TCM and mixology get along.

Those already familiar with The Library will also want to head back to check out the expanded space and menu, as it has taken over The Study diner next door. New off-menu bar bites like the beef flank with tom yum butter and mini doughnuts with salted coconut foam will satiate foreign guests who are only willing to dip a toe into Asian cuisine (you know the type).

(RELATED: We’ve written up a mini-encyclopaedia of the rarest and most-prized Chinese herbs, and their health benefits.)

The popular “Dirty & Stinky”, which took general manager Adam Bursik six years to perfect, is still on the menu, along with other favourites, and they continue to be served up by hyper-attentive barmen.

While teaming up with a TCM titan seems a little severe, The Library has lost none of its cheek. So don’t forget to look up the password or you may find yourself having to tell a dirty joke or do a little jig to gain entry, as with any speakeasy. Either way, it’ll be worth it.

The Verdict: Medicine has never been easier to swallow.

Check out our previous Bars of the Week: Bago at Limehouse | The Other RoomShin Gi TaiEmployees Only | Cin Cin | Joo Bar | Bob’s Bar

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