Manhattan might have fallen off the pedestal slightly – having been bested by The Old Man in Hong Kong in the rankings of Asia’s 50 Best Bars this year – but Asia’s number two isn’t going down lightly. They’ve consistently topped the list in the Best Hospitality Team category at The Bar Awards Singapore, and with new Bar Manager David Nguyen-Luu (whose previous stint was The Barber Shop in Sydney), a new millennium menu descends, with drinks that pay homage to cultural influences during New York’s turn of the new century.
Passing through Manhattan’s gilded doors always feel like entering another world. The plush main room fronted by the main bar is furnished in dark plums and cove lights. Thick velvet curtains obscure private drinking alcoves with names like The Library and The Rockefeller Room, and each of them are decked out in distinct themes of Art Deco glam and Italian velvet.
We managed to acquaint ourselves with four jazzy new tipples. There’s the No Vacancy (S$25++), which is a play on the 50/50 Martini, albeit a little lighter and sweeter. The drink contains Fords Gin, Mancino Secco Vermouth, peach liqueur and orange bitters, served separate with olives, apple slices, and lemon – to add or omit of your own volition, though the cocktail is delicious on its own.
If you’re a fan of strong tipples and The Sopranos, don’t miss out on David’s take on Tony Soprano’s famous drink of choice. The Bada Bing Bada Boom (S$27++) blends 12-year old Glenlivet and Ruffino Chianti red wine with spiced syrup and cherry tobacco bitters. On the nose, it’s a woody, smokey, and reminds us of the adults-only table at Christmas. And while stogies aren’t on the menu, the chocolate cigar that comes with is better than OK.
There are also plenty of fruity flavours to please the palate. Try the Meyer’s Fizz (S$24++) for a punch of tart yogurt and strawberry-infused Mancino Bianco, or celebrate the tiki renaissance with Tiki Apostle (S$28++), an unexpectedly tropical blend of hazelnut, pineapple, and champagne.
Manhattan is also home to the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse, which you’ll see sheathed in glass walls up front, and it isn’t just for show. Custom oak barrels age reconstructed classics that you can get for S$25++, including Jim Meehan’s El Presidente.