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Single-spirit bars are making a comeback in Singapore

Following the cocktail wave, single-spirit bars are now in vogue as local palates become more discerning.

When a bar dedicates its shelf space to just one type of drink, it’s a good indicator that the drink is the spirit du jour. Following the sophistication of Japanese whisky and the hipster-tinged smokiness of small batch mescal, it’s now the season of floral, refreshing gin.

Cin Cin is the latest addition to the surge of gin-focused bars that have popped up here in Singapore over the past year. Opened by Refinery Concepts (of Fat Cow and The Marmalade Pantry fame), the pretty-in-teal bar in the lobby of Oasia Hotel Downtown carries almost 80 labels, along with dozens of vermouths, bitters and tonics for customers to craft their perfect cocktail.

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“The number of gin distilleries in Britain has doubled in six years and with the huge boost in demand, gin-dedicated bars around the world have gradually surfaced,” says Karen Seah, group CEO of Refinery Concepts. “Events such as Gin Jubilee and the rise in the cocktail scene in Singapore have also built a strong path for gin to make a local comeback.”

(RELATED: We had some drinks at Cin Cin – it made our Bar of the Week easily.)

Over at The Rabbit Hole, the picturesque garden setting of the al fresco bar made the botanical spirit a natural choice. Here, the bar carries a curated list of nearly 15 varieties, with interesting picks like a G’Vine Floraison, the only grape spirit-based gin in the world made from Ugni blanc grapes (the same fruit used to make cognac and brandy). These are paired with house-made tonics that are light on the sugar so as not to overwhelm the delicate spirit.

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“While the popularity of gin has been steadily on the rise, it’s still often underappreciated,” says a representative from The Rabbit Hole. “Being in a garden also allows us to grow our own herbs, which we harvest fresh to garnish our drinks.”

Gin’s versatility with infusions is another reason for its popularity. Rather than buy pre-bottled flavours, there are a growing number of people who are experimenting in their own kitchens, adding berries for colourful gin and tonics, or chillies for a martini with an extra kick.

Taking this one step further are Simin Kayhan Ames and Rick Ames, who started making their own beer and apple cider from their home in Massachusetts, USA, before they founded Singapore-based company Paper Lantern Distilling in 2013. The company launched its first craft spirit in May this year, a Sichuan pepper gin which was distilled in Chiang Mai, Thailand, using the Asian spice as one of eight botanicals.

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“We decided to use gin for our first product as its spirit profi le lets us explore an almost limitless range of different flavours,” says Kayhan Ames.