With its fancy beef cuts grilled in a just-as-fancy Josper Charcoal Oven, alongside Japanese produce-forward dishes plated to Instagrammable perfection, Swissotel’s latest dining concept, Skai, has been the talk of the town. So much so that people seem to have overlooked Skai’s accompanying bar – a wrong that we’re here to right.
Chef Paul Hallett’s ingenuity and respect for ingredients is equally matched behind the bar by beverage manager Rusty Cerven. The menu is cleverly themed and inspired by Skai’s 70th floor location, dividing the selections by elevation. Starting at Sea Level for instance, cocktails here feature associative flavours in the form of peated whiskies, seaweed and sea salt. Climbing higher to the Alpine section will offer ingredients like pine liqueur, gin and Icelandic vodka.
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Within this framework, Cerven’s imagination and skill shines. The Shaman, a dark rum-based cocktail from the Rainforest section of the menu, highlights the earthiness of shiitake mushrooms but manages to cut its often overpowering flavour with white grapefruit and lime. The Nori Highball makes a bold entrance with Laphroaig 10 but not enough to mask the distinct notes of toasted seaweed. The classic gin martini gets a tasty twist when paired with an oyster leaf garnish in the Samphire Cocktail.
It should be evident by now that the ordinary and familiar have no place in Skai Bar’s menu. Cerven’s skill doesn’t just lie in finding exotic ingredients, but by making several of them work in harmony. The Buckthorn Cliff is an adventurous blend of vodka, gardenia, sea buckthorn (an extremely tart berry often found near coastlines), lemon, sea salt and honey mead, and you’ll be surprised to find you can taste every single component.
To drive home the point that the cocktails here are as artisanal as the food on the other side, you won’t be able to order these cocktails from the restaurant. But trust us – Skai Bar’s drinks are worth a solo excursion.
Level 70, Swissotel The Stamford.