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Unusual cocktail concepts and great-tasting libations at Mixology Salon and Jungle Ballroom

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 6 min read
Unusual cocktail concepts and great-tasting libations at Mixology Salon and Jungle Ballroom
Headed up by award-winning bartender Adrian Besa, Jungle Ballroom explores and celebrates the vibrant flavours of Southeast Asia
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While one brings its unique brand of Japanese tea-infused cocktails to Singapore, the other canvasses lesser-known spirits from all across Asia to feature in its jungle-inspired menu. If ever you are hankering for a good drink with great hospitality and polished interiors, head on to Tokyo’s famed Mixology Salon at InterContinental Robertson Quay, as well as Jungle Ballroom at the newly-opened Mondrian Singapore Duxton. Here’s what to expect.

Jungle Ballroom
Level 3 Mondrian Singapore Duxton Tel: 8111 6338

A hidden enclave in the heart of Singapore’s most vibrant neighbourhood, the spacious 70-seater Jungle Ballroom is Mondrian Singapore Duxton’s verdant temple to modern Asian mixology. Classy contemporary interiors punctuated by wall-covered art are a stark contrast to the unusually informal vibe at the bar filled with whimsical drinkware, tie-dye napkins, and gregarious barkeepers. I especially like the kitschy playlist of traditional to current Asian songs that give off weird Pulp Fiction vibes.

Headed up by award-winning bartender Adrian Besa (formerly from Mo Bar), one can expect late-night tippling till 2am with a transportive drinking and social experience that explores and celebrates the vibrant flavours of Southeast Asia. Not only has the team sourced spices and other ingredients from around the region, they also carry the most extensive selection of Asian-made spirits such as Samai from Cambodia, Amrut from India, Chalong Bay from Thailand, and Peddlers Gins from China.

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Working in tandem with hospitality consultancy Proof & Co, Besa and his team have crafted a colourful and highly creative cocktail menu inspired by the four dense layers of a jungle canopy. To start your expedition, I suggest something light like Views from the Treetops ($25), a beautifully-presented gin sour that combines Brass Lion Singapore dry gin and Mancino Bianco vermouth with citrus and persimmon, cacao nibs and herbal notes.

Follow that with Queen of the Jungle ($26), a tropical reinvention of the Old Fashioned crafted from rye whisky, barolo chinato, walnut, and New Orleans bitters. The drink is garnished with an edible rice paper cut-out emblazoned with the 1940s comic book cover of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

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For a little entertainment, How Doth The Little Crocodile ($26) is a smoky-tangy tipple that invites you to make your own garnish in the form of an origami crocodile. If successful, your little artwork gets a place on the bar’s wall. This delicious creation is made with London dry gin, lime, basil, pink dragonfruit, gula melaka and given a leathery twist with mezcal and bitters.

For something stronger, try the Jaguar Juice ($26) infused with cognac, PX sherry, tomato, ginger and spices. One of my favourites, it can only be described as savoury and spirit-forward, as if a cognac martini and Bloody Mary had a baby!

Drama queens will love the Neon Ballroom ($28), a boozy fruit punch infused with white rum, rosemary, mango, lime, rockmelon and champagne. This playful number comes complete with a clubby neon light hidden at the base of the glass.

There are also plenty of no-alcohol options for non-drinkers such as Fruit of the Vines ($15), a Singapore ice lemon tea inspiration blending distinctive spices, juicy fruit, grassy aromas and gentle tea tannins. Topped with a slice of rainbow cake, the Ballroom Cobbler ($14) is another fun fruit punch made with peach agave, pineapple, citrus and tropical fruit.

For bar bites, Jungle Ballroom has plenty of Asian delights worth a nibble. Do order the Crispy Spiced Chicken ($18), Snake Bean & Curried Taro Root Samosa ($16), Smoked Beef in pie tee shells ($28), and the Jungle Curry Lobster Roll ($42).

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Mixology Salon
#02-07 InterContinental Robertson Quay Tel: 8399 0679

The elegance of tea intertwines with the art of cocktails at Mixology Salon — the first overseas offshoot of Tokyo’s flagship Mixology Salon. Founded by Shuzo Nagumo, CEO of Spirits&Sharing which manages a variety of concept bars in Japan, Mixology Salon Tokyo was voted one of Asia’s Top 50 Bars in 2019.

Located in a cosy nook on the F&B wing of InterContinental Robertson Quay, the craft cocktail bar welcomes guests into a charming space thoughtfully designed to create an intimate tea-time setting for just 17 people at a time.

Here, you get to sip on Nagumo’s special “tea-tails” (cocktails infused with different varieties of tea), where premium spirits, such as Grey Goose vodka are harmoniously combined with high-quality teas such as Matcha, Gyokuro, Hojicha and Oolong. At the heart of Shuzo’s philosophy lies the meticulous combination of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices with spirits. These creations eschew conventional flavoured liqueurs, showcasing Shuzo’s commitment to crafting unique flavour profiles.

The menu features an array of innovative drinks, including the Japanese Tea Espresso Martini ($25++), the umami version of tea in a cocktail with exclusive gyokuro-infused Grey Goose vodka, matcha, sencha and vanilla syrup.

As a refreshing start, I highly recommend the Sencha Gin & Tonic ($22++) which blends the gentle astringency of Shizuoka Sencha, with deep umami flavours of Saga Sencha infused in Bombay Sapphire gin.

One of the most impressive creations is the Iri-bancha & IPA ($25++). Crafted with Grand Marnier cognac, apricot liqueur, vermouth Rosso and IPA, it offers tart and fruity notes with a profoundly smoky flavour from the Kyoto tea roasting process.

My favourite is the Four Seams ($26++), a savoury concoction that intertwines the harmonious blend of genmaicha with redistilled Grey Goose vodka and yuzu. Elegantly served in a Masu cup, the drink invites guests to enjoy the captivating taste of genmaicha from one side of the cup, while on the other side, a delightful interplay of miso, dashi, and furikake powder can be sipped with the drink to elevate the flavour of the liquid.

Lastly, do try Mixology Salon’s Green Tea Old Fashioned ($26++). Deliciously smooth, earthy and balanced, it infuses the timeless allure of matcha with a harmonious blend of chocolate bitters, kuromitsu, vanilla bitters, bourbon and rye whiskey.

For those who would like to fully experience the diversity of tea-based cocktails, Mixology Salon offers two types of tasting menus. For an immersive experience, the Gyokuro Cocktails Course ($65++) offers a delightful journey through three distinct infusions of gyokuro — the epitome of Japanese green tea excellence — allowing an exploration of different flavour intensities. For the course finale, the remaining tea leaves are savoured alongside smoked oyster soy sauce, complemented with the third brew of gyokuro tea.

Since his return back to Tokyo, Nagumo (right) has left the running of the bar to his affable protégé, Kaoru Takii (left), who speaks fluent English. Do not mistake his clinical lab coat for sterile monotony. Takii may be meticulous and exacting in his drink prep, but he is extremely warm, humorous and easy-going — everything you desire in a bartender, with good looks to boot!

The launch of Mixology Salon Singapore is supported by celebrated pastry chef Janice Wong, who previously collaborated with the bar to pair their cocktails with her confections from 2am:dessertbar. From what we understand, Mixology Salon is using the premises as a test-bed lease to suss out market demand, and its lease will end sometime next year.

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