Skip to main content
Hamburger Menu Close



Looking for unique and delicious flavours? Here are 15 savoury cocktails to try

Bartenders have been shaking up cocktails with an umami edge. But don’t get salty about it until you have tasted one of these savoury creations at these bars.

Looking for unique and delicious flavours? Here are 15 savoury cocktails to try

Savoury cocktails becoming more popular as customers look for novelty and bartenders stretch their creativity to impress regulars. (Photos: Jigger & Pony and Smoke & Mirrors)

It tasted like a clam broth with a boozier boost and was so lip-smackingly delicious that I wanted to dunk spaghetti in my glass and slurp it all up. This was the Wafu cocktail, one of the latest additions to the drinks menu at Lumo, a bar-restaurant along South Bridge Road.

The idea for the tipple was sparked by head bartender Aaron Lancelot Ong’s love for pasta. He said: “I wanted to challenge myself to come up with a drink that is related to food, and push myself to achieve something that seems impossible.”

The Wafu cocktail. (Photo: Lumo)

Ong first cooked garlic in extra virgin olive oil until it turned brown, then added parsley, vermouth and a Japanese blended whisky. The mixture is boiled for three to five minutes then left alone to infuse all the flavours for 24 hours before it is filtered.

Lumo's head bartender Aaron Lancelot Ong (Photo: Lumo)

At Amoy Street’s Underdog Inn, bar manager Lee Rosli poured out the Only If You Want It cocktail — a blend of tequila, mezcal, kiwi and citrus — from a tap before lacing the sides of the glass with a blend of seaweed, perilla leaves and salt. The result is a moreish margarita riff with hints of brine; a winner with the bar’s dishes that are mostly cooked over an open fire.

Only If You Want It cocktail (Photo: Underdog Inn)

Rosli shared: “I have always leaned towards creating cocktails based on food and dessert. Kiwi and seaweed may sound a little off, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious and refreshing the combination was. Plus who doesn’t love a margarita twist?”

He has observed savoury cocktails becoming more popular as customers look for novelty and bartenders stretch their creativity to impress regulars. He said: “By adding savoury ingredients, such as herbs and spices, bartenders can create complex and intriguing flavour profiles. This is a departure from the traditionally sweet and fruity cocktails that have dominated bar menus for years.”

The Solaris (Photo: Live Twice)

There is no limit to the imagination as long as the elements of sweet, salty, sour and bitter balance out. Case in point: Bukit Pasoh’s Live Twice bar has a mind-blowing Solaris, a clarified twist on the Bloody Mary. Soy sauce notes hits your nose as you lift the drink to your lips. Tare and shimichi pepper distillate conjure images of yakitori and a touch of Mhoba white rum brings grassy notes. It was clean, subtly earthy, and had delicately sweet pops from the micro tomato garnish.

Aki Eguchi, the bar programme director for Jigger & Pony Group, which comprises Live Twice, Gibson Bar, Jigger & Pony and Sugarhall, pointed out that savoury cocktails are not new — think classics like the Bloody Mary, the Margarita and the Gibson — but cocktails with a savoury taste profile have been popping up on bar menus locally and overseas.

Aki Eguchi, the bar programme director for Jigger & Pony Group. (Photo: Jigger & Pony)

He said: “Bartenders today are dedicated to their craft and challenge themselves constantly to push creative boundaries to develop complex yet well-balanced drinks and new drinking experiences for guests. Most cocktails bars also have well-thought food menus and there are also exchanges in ideas and inspirations from culinary techniques and flavours.”

Hungry for more? Here’s another 12 to slake your thirst.

No Sleep Club: Mushroom Manhattan

Served in a wine glass, this cocktail looks exactly like red wine and you may find it cheekily swapped with an actual one if you order a steak. Four types of mushrooms (white button, Swiss brown, cep and shiitake) are roasted and sous-vide overnight with cognac. The mixture is then frozen and clarified the next day before being finished with fresh beetroot juice and roasted cacao nibs.

No Sleep Club also has an off-menu option in which vodka is infused with kombu and bonito flakes before it is fortified further with manzanilla sherry and diluted with a rich mushroom stock. It is only available upon request or with the four-course tasting menu with cocktail pairing.

Tippling Club: Get Up Everybody by Salt-N-Pepa
Get Up Everybody by Salt-N-Pepa (Photo: Tippling Club)

Ranked 27 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 list, Tippling Club’s latest menu, Guide to Modern Drinking Volume 3, celebrates six decades of music with drinks inspired by iconic artistes. In the 80s section is this Dirty Martini-inspired cocktail garnished with caper berries. The spicy-salty concoction blends vermouth with vodka that is distilled and brined with fresh green Indonesian kampot peppercorns.

The Bar at 15 Stamford: Kabang Koman 1501

The maritime spirit of the nomadic Moken people and their kabangs (wooden home boats) on the sea are captured in this signature cocktail in the rum-focused Bar at 15 Stamford, located in The Capitol Kempinski Hotel. Kabang Koman 1501 reflects the Moken way of using familiar elements in skilful ways with its eclectic mix of Chalong Bay Thai basil rum, peach, oolong tea, chilli, citrus and soda water.

Smoke & Mirrors: Wok's That Smell

Ever wondered how the aromas of zichar can be translated into a drink? This tipple from Smoke & Mirrors gives a glimpse with its complex blend of smoky, sweet, and spicy conjured up with Espolón tequila, sambal, lap cheong (waxed meat), Cointreau liqueur, mezcal, and lime. It captures the essence of wok hei and nods to the familiar stir-fried and dark sauce-drenched rice noodle char kway teow.

Mixology Salon Singapore: Four Seams

Tokyo craft cocktail bar Mixology Salon, well-known for their “teatails” has opened its first international outpost at Intercontinental Robertson Quay hotel. The highlight of the bar menu are the well-balanced cocktails made from spirits infused with premium green tea leaves such as gyokuro, sencha and hojicha.

Four Seams (Photo: Mixology Salon Singapore)

Among its unique drinks is the Four Seams No.2, a unique tipple to Singapore. The concoction consists of Grey Goose vodka that has been redistilled with genmaicha and egg white. It is served in a masu cup, a traditional hinoki wood cup used to imbibe sake on special occasions. Sip it from one corner before proceeding to the other three that are dotted with miso, dashi and cassis powder respectively and enjoy the interplay of flavours.

Sugarhall: Sunset Cooler and Olive Negroni

Lau Pa Sat’s Satay Street is remembered in this summery cocktail with pleasant notes of peanut butter. First, a punch base of Hendrick’s Gin, sakura vermouth, honey, watermelon, lemon juice and peanut butter is created. It is then left on the counter to settle before being passed through a strainer. The result is an amazingly clear tipple enhanced by a pickled watermelon rind garnish.

Olive Negroni (Photo: Sugarhall)

The Olive Negroni mixes gin fat-washed with buttery Sicilian Castelvetrano olives with a dash of South African agricole rum for a funky and delicious take on the traditional negroni.

Jigger & Pony: Ugly Tomatoes

Ugly Tomatoes (Photo: Jigger & Pony)

Naturally misshapen heirloom beefsteak tomatoes from the Genting Highlands are given a second life in Ugly Tomatoes. This drink brims with lush tomato juice and housemade kummel, a herbal liqueur made with caraway, fennel and cumin that delivers a savoury-spicy flavour. It is served in a Kimura crumpled glass and is the perfect complement to the bar’s more strongly flavoured dishes such as the Black Pepper Crab Dip with Toast.

Gibson: Bloody Mary and Sugarcane Spritz

Bloody Mary (Photo: Gibson)

At first glance, it looks like a healthy juice. But this green Bloody Mary is anything but. The combination of wasabi distillate, green tomatoes, green peas, jalapeno, salt and pepper, delivers a deliciously heady and bright stunner. The shot of heat fades in a few seconds and the pickled carrot gives a rounded, savoury finish.

Sugarcane Spritz (Photo: Gibson)

In the Sugarcane Spritz, dry sugarcane wine, made with local fermentation company Starter Culture, is paired with cachaça, a Brazilian spirit distilled from fermented sugar cane juice. The addition of olive brine bring a savoury finish to this sweet and fruity tipple.

28 HongKong Street: Gordon’s Breakfast

Known for its fun and laidback vibes, the Number 49 bar on the Asia’s 50 Best 2022 list came up with a twist on the classic Gordon’s Cup. Zesty lime, gin and a touch of Worcestershire and hot sauces are just some of the ingredients in this fusion. It is an explosion of tangy, spicy and savoury flavours, much like the atmosphere of 28 HongKong Street.

Anti:dote: Obachan’s Secret

Obachan’s Secret (Photo: Anti:dote)

This refreshing brew of umeshu, sherry, gin and sparkling genmaicha from Anti:dote is elevated with house-made umeboshi, a pickled plum that is often used in a Japanese folk remedy of rice for colds. The salty and sour plum adds a savoury depth to round off the cocktail’s complex profile.

Source: CNA/bt