Amoy Street’s loss is surely Tanjong Pagar’s gain. Yep, we’re talking about local cocktail institution and one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Jigger & Pony. Finally opening its doors again to public this Wednesday, 19 September 2018, its new space sits unassumingly in the left-hand corner of Amara Singapore’s lobby on the ground floor, but once you pass into the threshold, you probably won’t feel like you’re in a hotel bar or in the CBD district of Tanjong Pagar, for that matter.
Jigger & Pony Version 2.0 is larger, sexier, and funnily enough, reminiscent of Zouk. Seating 140 and doubling that capacity with standing room, the main bar where Bar Manager Jerrold Khoo calls the shots (pun intended) runs parallel with the communal table (if you remember it from Amoy Street, it’s reconfigured to fit the space) and cosy booths for small groups. While they’ve kept the mahogany, the new space is more texture-rich with different types of seating, including arm chairs and velvet swivel chairs. The mezzanine calls to mind the private member areas of Zouk, which comes with a second bar perfect for hosting guest bartenders and catering to private events.
The team has also taken a different approach when conceptualizing the 27-cocktail strong menu. Rather than continuing the straightforward, grid-like menu that feature classic and vintage recipes next to their signatures, they’ve actually created a magazine complete with guest articles, columns, and even an “editor’s note” by Jerrold. Priced at $23 per cocktail across the magazine, we started closest to home with the Asian Classics.
Inspired by Indonesian Onde-Onde (sesame based and not the coconut-filled dessert we know), the Java Cooler is a light yet flavourful and aromatic take on the G&T with sesame-infused Tanqueray Dry Gin, calamansi, and pink tonic. Don’t brush off the Singapore Sling, because this version is probably one of the best in the country. The addition of smoky lapsang souchong and using the natural tartness of rhubarb with classic ingredients of gin, Cherry Heering, pineapple, and lime are minor strokes of genius. Definitely not the sugar bomb you’ve always wanted to pour down the drain.
The Classics vs Signatures is a bit of a throwback to the old menu. Tokyo-Hi is Jigger & Pony’s take on a good ol’ Whisky Highball. Lightly tart, fruity, and spicy, the Japanese connection is clear with the use of Nikka Coffey gin, shiso peppermint infusion, umeshu, pickled ginger water, and soda. Negroni lovers, try the Madame President.
A shout-out to Singapore’s first female President, the Campari in this cocktail comes in the form of a lolly, so the liquid in the glass is a lot lighter in colour than a classic Negroni. It also takes multiple leaves out of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ book with orchid tea cold brewed with bitter melon water and kaffir dry vermouth.
With more than 20% of the menu dedicated to the martini, it’d be remiss to not try at least one, eh? The Dirty Martini is excellent, where a strong basil aroma complements and enhances the savoury and briney notes of the humble olive in this mix of olive oil washed Napue gin, champagne vinegar, and brined olives. Though not strictly a martini, there’s a complexity to the sour-savoury Appletini in this tribute to the colourful whatever-tinis that were all the rage in the bars in the 1990s. The herbaceous notes of celery give way to the apple fragrance of Christian Drouin Calvados, both of which bolstered by the lovely texture that only well-shaken egg white can provide.
Rounding up our cocktail run is another cocktail with great silky texture, this time borrowed from freeze-dried yoghurt. A classic tequila cocktail created in 1937 (preceding even the margarita), Jigger & Pony’s twist on the Toreador with apricot, lime, and yoghurt feels like an alcoholic yoghurt shake on steroids, in a good way. Folks who’re hankering after the old cocktails will find that they’ve kept favourites like Donkey Kong, Corpse Reviver #101, and the Bumbo Old Fashioned from Sugarhall.
Jigger & Ponyis located at Amara Singapore, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088539, p. +65 9621 1074. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am, Sun 5pm-1am.