‘Tis the season to be merry — and what better way to be merry than having a tasty little tipple at one of Asia’s best bars? Take a trip across the region with MO Bar’s new Volume Three cocktail menu. 

There is no denying that Singapore’s bar scene is thriving. After all, out of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, 11 are in Singapore. One of the 11 is MO Bar which is located on Level 4 of the Mandarin Oriental, and it’s well-deserving of its spot on the list. Following the success of its Volume Two menu, which landed its spot in Asia’s 50 Best Bars, MO Bar has launched its third iteration of its thematic travel across the continent, showcased through 16 inventive and tasty cocktails.

While the previous iteration was inspired by the team’s travels across the world, Covid-19 has clearly made that much more difficult. So, in a time of staying at home and limited nomadic movement, this menu explores innovative ways to connect with others; preparation for Volume Three embraced the “new normal” with virtual events and meetings exploring the history and culture of selected destinations across Asia Pacific.

This new normal took the team, led by Bar Manager Adrian Besa, on a line-up of virtual exchanges with renowned venues such as Vesper in Bangkok, Alice Cheongdam from Seoul, The Curator in Manila, New Delhi’s Sidecar and more. Their “travels” resulted in drinks which draw inspiration from these regional partners, integrating unique flavours, ingredients and techniques from their partners’ home countries, which makes for a really delightful experience and a (very) boozy night out.

Drink in the flavours of Singapore with the Thunder, a thunder tea rice-inspired beverage integrating rice and herbs, served in a locally-made ceramic mug ($12/$22), with a splash of Singaporean gin for an additional layer of sophistication and spirit. This creamy, sweet drink is a perfect opener to the rest of the menu to come, and there is a lot more on the way.

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There is the New Delhi-inspired Soma, a clarified drink with gin, yoghurt, chutney and spices ($14/$24), or Seoul’s White Rabbit with tequila, tomato, kimchi and black garlic ($14/$24). The White Rabbit was intriguing, to say the least, combining flavours you’d never expect to taste in a cocktail, reminiscent of the Bloody Mary but with a layer of complexity that will have you either loving or hating it. (Spoiler: I loved it).

Starting refreshing and progressing towards more robust, spirit-forward drinks, highlights from the rest of the menu include the light and clean Chamoe, inspired by a collaboration with partners in Seoul with an infusion of vodka, melon and citron ($24) and the indulgent Taipei-inspired Milkyway with whiskey, oolong and brown sugar, garnished with whiskey-infused boba ($24).

I am not one for bubble tea, but this one is deliciously naughty, and the whiskey boba just adds to the cheekiness. Sip on the colourful Sarimonak, blending flavours of Lanao with rum, mango and citrus ($24), and enjoy a taste of Guangzhou with the Lion’s Den, comprising gin, baijiu and green coffee ($22).

Then, travel to Manila with the Journey, featuring gin, citrus and spices, or transport yourself to Jakarta with the Moka, a decadent blend of rum, chocolate and banana ($24). My personal favourite was the Pastel de Ramos ($24), inspired by the flavours of the famous egg tart of Macau — a gorgeous tipple of cognac, croissant (yes, croissant) and custard. It literally tasted like an egg tart in a cup, a veritable liquid dessert which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also really enjoyed the Rubi ($22), a concoction of whiskey, pineapple and toddy.

Teetotallers, don’t feel left out: four of the 16 drinks offer a non-alcoholic option, also presented with an add-on spirit available upon request.

And, what is a drink without something to eat? A selection of bar snacks, larger specialities and sandwiches accompany the cocktails; including the locally-inspired Singdog comprised of charred chicken sausage, achar, sambal mayo, scallions and dry shrimp ($24); Laksa with lobster, rice vermicelli and coconut broth ($28); and the indulgent Gyu-Katsu Sando ($32) with breaded Wagyu beef and bulldog sauce — the sando (Japanese for “sandwich”) was my personal favourite.

For vegetarian dishes, guests may opt for the Rice Rolls featuring vegetables in Vietnamese rice paper with sweet chilli sauce ($16), Tater Tots with curry mayo ($16), or the plant-based variation of the MO Bar Burger with an Impossible Burger patty accompanied by cheddar and lettuce and a side of potato wedges ($32).

Food-wise, everything was tasty and most were conveniently bite-sized, but it’s the cocktails which are the true star of the show.

With a relaxed, chic vibe and the ever-smiling, friendly staff, MO Bar feels a little like your own little secret, although it was heaving with guests on a weekday night. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a delicious cocktail (or three) and a quiet conversation with friends, MO Bar is the place to go.