What are F&B companies doing to keep well-travelled Singaporeans enticed?
With travel still off the table, restaurants and fine spirit labels continue to launch unique pairing menus and limited-edition vintages to keep customers hooked – and coming back for more.
The world of fine dining is more than an immersive journey winding through elegant dishes with captivating flavours. High-end restaurants have been bolstering their menus with premium spirits to entice customers to return or first-timers an incentive to drop by. When there are no overseas shots to fill the ‘gram, the next best social media fodder is snagging a seat at limited-edition and by-invite-only meals.
Case in point: Omakase restaurant Hashida Singapore launched the limited-edition Mizubasho Artist Series 2020 by Nagai Sake with a one-night only pairing dinner that included produce from Gunma prefecture where the sakes hailed from. Not only were diners feted to drinks whose delicate floral notes were created with the female drinker in mind, but they also sampled Mizubasho’s signature sparkling sakes that are a world-first in using the traditional Champenoise method, where secondary fermentation occurs inside the bottle.
French cognac house Martell revived its invite-only Prestige Dinner Series for high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients and potential buyers with establishments such as Cantonese diner Taste Paradise and French-Asian restaurant Chinoiserie. The meals pair dishes like Chinoiserie’s “Nam Yu” braised wagyu beef cheek and Taste Paradise’s Superior Fish Maw in Supreme Broth with premium bottles such as Cordon Bleu, XO and Chanteloup XXO.
The exclusive Martell Vintage Collection has been launched too, where only five sets of four vintages from 1949 to 1965 would be made available in Singapore progressively over the next two years. Red Seo, Pernod Ricard Singapore's brand manager for Martell, Perrier-Jouet & G H Mumm, said that there are plans to “branch out to different types of cuisine in the later half of the year”. Dinners for five are being planned for August onwards, subject to the safe management measures in place then.
Last November through December, The Balvenie launched the “Handcrafted By” programme with whisky-pairing experiences at one-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Garibaldi and modern Chinese restaurant Madame Fan. This year’s collaboration expands to 10 Michelin Guide restaurants in Singapore and Thailand – six in the former – beginning with Braci, which will last till Jul 14.
Braci’s chef de cuisine Mirko Febbrile said: “Diners are looking for more immersive and premium experiences, as well as food and beverage pairings that can really elevate the meal to the next level through the quality of taste. There is still so much in the world of fine dining and fine whisky to explore. We believe this is a great opportunity to introduce diners to that world.”
Febbrile’s not being a “big whisky drinker” turned out to be blessing in disguise as he had “nothing to hold back on, no preconceived restrictions as to what was and was not worth trying” said Brett Bayly, regional brand ambassador for The Balvenie in Southeast Asia.
Braci’s seven-course spring degustation menu includes two dishes created to complement The Balvenie whiskies. The sweetness of topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes) with home-cured sardines and charcoal-cooked Alaskan king crab in a broth of toasted Japanese rice plays up the honey and grape notes in The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old. A savoy cabbage stuffed with Iberico pork and wild garlic raviolini, and finished in a five-vegetable jus and Marsala wine, dialled up notes of toffee and molasses in the Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old.
Luxury French cognac house Louis XIII is celebrating the opening of its new shop-in-shop concept in The Whisky Distillery at One Raffles Place by gifting an exclusive Tippling Club pairing experience for two with every purchase of its 1.5-litre Magnum from now till the end of July.
Tyrel Ball, Remy Cointreau’s managing director for Southeast Asia-Pacific said that while Louis XIII had previously collaborated with the Michelin-plate restaurant on pairing experiences, “we saw the opportunity to engage with the local clientele through our new retail concept with The Whisky Distillery, particularly as travel is off the table. We wanted to offer an added incentive for avid Louis XIII fans.”
The five-course tasting menu was designed to showcase the multi-faceted profile of the cognac and cast the liquor as the perfect prandial accompaniment. Rich foie gras cream sandwiched between hazelnut praline and topped with fig jam revealed a seductively light side while a sugar-free apple tarte Tatin – sweetened by caramelising 75-year-old mirin – enhanced the nectar’s spice and fruit notes.
Ball said: “Louis XIII has always appealed to a very discerning clientele, but in the past years we’ve seen a rising interest in experiential ways to enjoy our products beyond enjoying it neat or in traditional pairings. Our Five Sensations Pairing experience with Louis XIII is the perfect example of this, conceptualised as a way to reveal the many facets of the cognac.”