Mezza9 Martini Bar – Happy Birthday Singapore!

I’ve been on an alcoholic binge. No more than what I use to inhale back in the agency days but definitely a stark upswing since I moved in-house. That familiar buzz, the freedom of laughter and that overt friendliness were old friends I’ve not visited for a while and it felt good to see them again.

So on the eve of National Day, to cheer a pal up, we went bar hopping to lift some spirits and well, celebrate the nation’s 45th independence anniversary.

We started the night off at Bar Canary at Grand Park Orchard. An outdoor space, it was the perfect spot to start a chill-out night under the stars, figuratively speaking. Between us three, we drained a bottle of white over an exchange of laughter and teasing. In less than an hour, we were on to our next hot spot feeling slight buzzed and me, with a pair of wooden chopsticks in my hair.

GETTING THERE – BAR CANARY

Making our way by foot, we crossed the street and headed towards Grand Hyatt Hotel which houses the Martini Bar at Mezza9. You probably won’t be able to find this glass-enclosed Martini Bar on your first visit unless you ask as its 2 entrances are tucked at the extremes of the Mezza9 which may explain the lack of a massive crowd even on weekends or public holidays.

We settled for a table right next to the bar with panels that allowed for a glimpse of Scotts Road. Upon settling, we placed our drinks after much deliberation and I allowed my eyes to roam, taking in and appreciating the interior decor. The grill and lamp before our table, I absolutely adored [pictured above, center]. To keep the alcohol at bay, a cheese platter was ordered accompanied by cashew nuts, compliments of the bar and let me tell you, those cashew nuts are highly addicted. Roasted to perfection enhancing the nuts’ fragrance with cracked black pepper added to that golden brown perfection, we were practically inhaling those nuts like chipmunks storing nuts in their cheeks for winter.

On to the stars of the night, the Martini Bar at Mezza9 offers a stunning array of 40 different martinis to suit every palette, well except the savory [which Bar Stories will offer]. Deciding to avoid the classics on round one, we ordered the Tiramisu, Lemon Custard and Watermelon martinis to start.

The Tiramisu Martini was as the name suggests and delivered the dessert in a glass the name promised. A concoction of Imperia-Russian Standard, Baileys, Kahlua, Espresso and Banana Liquer, we were off to a rocking start with that drink.

The Lemon Custard Martini came highly recommended from the pal who has visited the bar prior and I admit to being highly skeptical of the order and sipped gingerly at the drink only to find myself wanting to gulp it down. This glass comprised of Imperia-Russian Standard, Advocaat, Vanilla Liquer, Lemon Juice and Egg White. Tad squeamish knowing that fresh egg white went into the drink but man those flavors were so fresh and rewarding, that I was left lusting after the drink after that first sip. Everyone should have this when visiting the Martini Bar at Mezza9.

The bore in me, I ordered a Watermelon Martini to start with the excuse of wanting to freshen my palette before diving in. It was beautiful, simple and understated, a flavor I’ve long been acquainted with as its one of my favorite fruits in the world. A glass of this consists of Tanqueray Gin, Watermelon Liquer and Freshly Squeezed Watermelon Juice.

Soon enough, we were on to seconds and polishing off the cheese platter and cashew nuts like we’ve not eaten nor drunk in weeks. It was also at this time that the clock struck 12 and we toasted to the nation’s birthday. Yea, we patriotic like that.

Round 2 orders were a tad more adventurous and our table was served the following – Rick’s Cucumber [i know, sounds wrong], Hazelnut Martini and Vanilla Snow Martini.

So I’ve definitely found my sex in this drink – Rick’s Cucumber Martini. It’s almost the taste I’ve been searching to recreate since a chance order years ago of a cucumber based drink. A simple mix of Hendrick’s Gin, Fresh Cucumber, Lemon Juice and Brown Sugar with a Salt rimmed glass, I was taken on a sensory journey to satisfaction. This is my kinda drink, I don’t know about you.

The Hazelnut Martini was another winner of the night, finished with a white chocolate praline for a sweet end. The mix includes Absolut Vanilla, Frangelico, Vanille de Madagascar and a White Chocolate Praline.

Round two was reined in with a Vanilla Snow Martini featuring Absolut Vanilla, Creme de Cacao White, Vanilla Liquer and Cream. This did not suit my fancy as a result of my long standing aversion to milk and most things dairy. But hey, my friend who is a regular milk drinker loved every drop of it so don’t pass this up if you’re a milk/ vanilla person.

Round three was an order for the person on your right round and it resulted in a longer than usual deliberation and a deep need to focus and sober up from that giggly high state. Here’s the trio for the table – Espresso Martini, Saint Dragon Martini and a Dry Hendrick’s. The round also kinda gave insight into how well you know the next person’s taste.

The Espresso Martini was an all-round crowd pleaser with its coffee flavor perking up everyone at the table. The glass featured Imperia-Russian Standard, Kahlua, Espresso, Sugar Syrup and a dash of Frangelico.

The Saint Dragon was the order for me and it is very aligned with my preference for use of fresh fruits and vegetables in my drinks. Again, the flavor is as what one would expect but with good execution. The Saint Dragon comprises Imperia-Russian Standard, Saint Germain, Lemon Juice and Freshly Squeezed Dragon Fruit.

My order for the pal was a Dry Hendrick’s, a very masculine drink for a female only because of her preference for a good gin tonic whenever we head out for a drink. Tad strong for me but if you’re a gin tonic person, you should be able to appreciate this drink which consists of Hendrick’s Gin, Noilly Prat and Cucumber.

Round four, also known as the finale round. We’ve moved from bar side to the plush couch at the back of the bar. Snuggled in the comfortable softness and tucking in with glee on the chocolate chip cookies, compliments of the bar. Remember how I mentioned the cracked black pepper cashew nuts were addictive? Well, these chocolate chip cookies are premium and we switched our alliance to the sweet treat as we fought to keep the alcohol at bay with our next round of orders – Almond Martini, Berries Martini and the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Martini.

The Almond Martini was pleasant but inferior to the Hazelnut Martini in my opinion, a concoction of Imperia-Russian Standard, Amaretto and Lemon Twist.

Another fruit based martini, no prizes for guessing who ordered it but the Berries Martini was the perfect way to round up the evening of drinks with its sweet, tart flavor and a refreshing zing provided by the mint leaves. The Berries Martini is a combination of Imperia-Russian Standard, Mixed Berries, Cranberry Juice and Mint Leaves. Satisfaction it was.

Last on the list is the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Martini which is everything the name promised with no hidden nuances. I was shocked to learn that cayenne pepper was used in the drink but I guessed it did something to elevate the flavors and tie everything together – a mix of Absolut Vanilla, Baileys, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao Brown, Nutmeg and Cayenne Pepper.

You may have noticed we did not order the classic lychee martini and I’ll bet it tastes fabulous but with a selection of 40 martinis to choose from, why stick to the regulars? Till next time, I bid you adieu.

GETTING THERE – Martini bar at mezza9

Hours: Monday to Sunday 11.00am to 2.00am

Reservations: Please call +65 6732 1234

Dress Code: Smart Casual [strictly no singlets, bermudas, shorts or slippers]

Valet Service:  Available until 2:00 am daily


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‘Tis Addiction, The Bar

It’s no secret that I’m addicted to Bar Stories and with good reason too – good banter, tinkling laughs topped with cocktails fixed to your crave. Find me another place that can afford that level of personalised service or I’m not moving. Period.

haji lane

Housed in the renovated shophouses of Haji Lane, its a gem of a find along the Lane I’ve come to love. The fact that its housed in a shophouse creates that immediate affinity. Shophouses strike a chord in me like no other and when I first entered I remember smiling to myself, looking around and taking in the intimacy, soft lighting and quirk of the place, wishing it were all mine.

On my first encounter, we were seated on couches by the window and I was expecting a menu of some sort listing available ingredients for selection. Refreshingly, no menu was produced and instead I was queried on my taste preferences to which I shared – sweet, refreshing, hint of mint and Jeremy, declared the Black Forest Mojito the first drink of the night for me. I’m not used to not knowing what to expect and was a little peeved when I tried to request for a drink that was more out-of-this world only to be put in place by Jeremy with a simple ‘The drink will surprise you enough.’ So I resigned myself to the order and allowed the eyes to roam before the first sip..

.. and Jeremy was right. The refreshing burst of berry flavors with the cool of mint leaves danced in my mouth and I was in ecstasy. The sorbet provided a sour twist of coolness on the tongue and I was thrilled till the very last sip. Fortunately, we managed to get our seats ‘upgraded’ to bar side and I would recommend for everyone who visits Bar Stories for the very first time [and subsequently as well] to always sit by the bar. Full access to bar side entertainment, drink creation and even the occasional test taste of concoctions. It be sheer delight.

The second drink I had that night was a specific request for something with cucumber and a refreshing twist. Lead bartender/ mixologist, Jeff, fixed me a Cucumber Saketini of sorts that included the following ingredients – crushed cucumber, sake, galangal and lemon. It did not live up to what my palette was craving but I give him full credit for creating a drink in mere minutes from my ridiculous request. Call me a snob, but I do believe that same drink would have tasted better if he had used Japanese cucumbers instead of our regular species of cucumbers which lacks that certain level of freshness and flavour.

Chng Sue-Anne Anoir Nan

On my next visit, I sat myself right at the bar counter and challenged Big Zach to give me a drink to pick-me up, specifically, a recreation of liquid toasted marshmallow. I saw him register the challenge, I felt myself place faith in his skills and on a delightful journey he brought me on. Watching him create the drink was as fulfilling as tasting it, indeed the journey is as rewarding as the end result. There were points I thought to myself this is not going to work out as he pulled out cream and milk which were products I shy away from every single day of my life but in his hands, magic. After layering the flavors in a glass to create the body of the drink, he frothed a good amount of milk and gently topped the glass with it before flambéing the concoction before me. You know that feeling of warm love, of contentment and satisfaction? I experienced all of that in that one glass.

That same night, I was blown away by another of Big Zach’s creation. I was going to go down the regular route after being satisfied with the Toasted Marshmallow Flambé with a Kyoho Grape Martini but Big Zach challenged me back with a taunt. Why go for something regular? Licking my lips, trying to make sense of what my palette craved, I was struggling to come up with words/ ingredients to guide Big Zach on the next creation and so I said – ‘Go crazy, create me something you think I’d like.’ Silence. A serious look crossed his face and again, ingredients flew. It was a blur, I didn’t quite manage to register all the ingredients but I noted rose syrup [another ingredient I absolutely loathe], organic apple juice and topped with saffron. Viola, he placed the drink before me and declared it The Lover. I smiled, took a sip, felt my smile grow wider as I savored the nuances and notes of the different ingredients. Sheer genius this one, sheer genius the creator, sheer genius the place.

Since then, I’ve been back numerous number of times, each time with different folks as I shared my excitement at discovering this gem of a place. Bar Stories brought out the alcoholic in me, so much so I returned there 3 nights in the same week. I did tone it down and my most recent visit on Saturday reminded me of the simple joys this place brings me.

Turning up on a Saturday is never wise and I was glad Jeff opened the space downstairs, belonging to A Thousand Tales to accommodate us. Settling ourselves at the counter, I declared my want for something sour and refreshing and Jeff declared a Mai Tai [pictured above] to start. Jeff then proceeded to recommend the Mangosteen Martini [pictured below] for my pal as the fruit was in season. What bummed me was that I couldn’t watch them create that Mangosteen drink. Nevertheless we were off to a good start.

We tackled our next drinks with flourish. Anything with Pimms for the pal and a cocktail of gooseberries and passionfruit [pictured below] for me. By then, we were a good way intoxicated and I was itching to get bar side.

Patience paid off and Jeff arrived triumphantly announcing we’ve been upgraded bar side and I trooped on in glee. Seated, we picked up the pace with an order of Kyoho Grape Martini each and that sweetness, well, it’s unrivaled.

Whilst polishing off our martini’s, we spied a concoction of strawberries and frangelico in the mix and our curiosity was piqued. A quick query and we learnt that the drink in progress was a dessert in a glass – Strawberry Shortcake and an order was placed. I must say, these guys are good at recreating desserts in a glass. Now the question I have is, which do you think holds lesser calories? – The actual dessert or the liquid recreation? Any case, be sure to give the strawberry shortcake a shot.

Having craved that Toasted Marshamallow Flambé for a week-ish now, I was not going to be denied the drink and signalled to Big Zach for two orders of that wondrous creation that lifted me on that dark day. Unfortunately, recreation is not one of his fortes and that spirit of inspiration was amiss that night. Nevertheless, I am confident that that magic touch will return.

We rounded off on a good note though. Despite being on break, Big Zach went back behind the bar to create a Jam Donut Shot and I urge you to give it a whirl if you’re seeking something sweet. I do have a person in mind who I know will fall head over heels in love with this shot.

Oh and if you’re looking for some chow to keep the alcohol at bay, don’t fret. Bar Stories serves up a simple menu of bar foods and even desserts to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

So you see, I’m addicted. While the concept of bespoke cocktails is definitely not new but the experience is rare on this little red dot of ours. I’ve since learnt that there’s another establishment along Telok Ayer that serves bespoke cocktails but till I visit, Bar Stories will remain a staple for me. And oh! What makes Bar Stories unique? The place is kitted out with designer pieces and you can purchase any of the furniture there or below, at the A Thousand Tales furniture store to take a piece of the pleasure home with you.

PS. As the boys chime, I repeat, ‘Please avoid Fridays and Saturdays!’

GETTING THERE