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Ginger.Lily hits the right notes with bold, sense-themed menu

Russell Marino Soh
Russell Marino Soh • 3 min read
Ginger.Lily hits the right notes with bold, sense-themed menu
Ginger.Lily's Synaesthesia menu features drinks that play on the senses (Pictures: Hilton Singapore Orchard)
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Hilton Singapore Orchard’s botanical-inspired bar, Ginger.Lily, has launched a new menu, Synaesthesia.

Each item is focused on a particular sense, using different elements to either elevate or dull flavours. There’s an element of play here — most of the drinks have a tableside-transformative quality, changing in various ways after they are served.

It sounds like a gimmick at first, especially with the bells and whistles — edible perfumes, tinted glasses, neck-worn speakers — but it’s a gimmick that works. And even without the frou-frou, the drinks by and large hold their own, so it’s certainly not a case of compensating here.

Head mixologist Michael Mendoza tells us he’s had this menu in his mind since before he joined Ginger.Lily — and he’s been here for over two years. With all that time to experiment, we’d like to think he’s an expert on heightening one’s senses, so we suspend our disbelief and take his word for it when he tells us nature noises bring out the flavour of a vegetal cocktail.

The “synaesthetic” effect of the menu is most successful in the two smell-focused drinks, which can be paired with one or more of the three edible perfumes on offer. 

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On its own, Aroma Alchemy is an earthy tipple, grounded by the house-rotovapped beetroot distillate. Add a spritz of the Summer perfume, though, and it becomes a whole other drink; the earthiness gives way to fruity notes and an almost gummy bear-like sweetness. Scented Spirits, also in the “smell” category, has its aged wine base turned up to eleven and its sweet notes mellowed by a spray of the Cloud perfume.

Another standout in Synaesthesia is Fire & Ice. A spin on the classic Irish coffee, this drink plays on the sense of touch, with a hot rum-and-coffee base and cold whipped mascarpone topping. The interplay of temperatures and textures is fun enough, but the inevitable milk moustache after the first sip leaves us wholly entertained. Sweet gula melaka and peanut butter notes in the liquid portion add to the drink’s playful pop.

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Not everything is as explicitly sense-elevating, though. Take Luminous Insight, for instance. The aforementioned glasses — which look like they could have come out of a funky 90s cinema — feature custom-tinted lenses; each order comes with two pairs in different colours. 

The red lenses, we are told, highlight the sweet fruitiness of the drink, while the yellow lenses bring out its spicy ginger notes. In practice, the effect is much milder than the spectacle (pun intended) would lead one to believe. The drink is plenty punchy on its own, so the glasses do relatively little to boost the flavours. Still, it works to some degree — we think.

Mendoza’s chops, honed at Sofitel Singapore City Centre and Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay before he landed here, are best showcased in bold, adventurous mixes; and that’s exactly what Synaesthesia delivers. 

Whether you chalk it up to the power of suggestion or his chipper charisma as he explains the menu, you’re going to get a well-executed drink that provokes thought — from the plain (did those forest sounds really make this taste better?) to the philosophical (what even is taste, really?). And that alone is worth a visit.  

 

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