Mark your calendars and get ready to drink up as the highly anticipated Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017 returns from 16 to 21 March.

With guest bartenders representing some of Asia’s 50 Best Bars flying in from all over the world for the Festival (or #SGCF2017, as it’s known to its more social media-savvy fans), Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017 promises to be an exciting six days.

Just ahead of the festivities next week, Wine & Dine caught up with three of them to bust popular cocktail myths and talk pro tips for the bar geek.

1. Bright colours ≠ alcohol

Kuala Lumpur's Shawn Chong from Omakase + Appreciate talks to Wine & Dine for Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017

“In Kuala Lumpur, where our cocktail culture is still young and on the rise, customers still have stereotypical perceptions. They associate light and bright colours with the strength and flavour of a cocktail. Little do they know, it can be the complete opposite. For example, an Aviation has a faint purple hue, but it has that sophisticated flavour of the maraschino. Nothing fruity about that. Something made with absinthe could be bright green or a Nuclear Daiquiri made with an over-proof white rum can look innocent but will certainly pack a punch in terms of the alcohol level. Yes, colourful cocktails tend to give off that vibe of being fruity, but that certainly is not the case especially if it is a classic cocktail.” – Shawn Chong of Omakase + Appreciate, KL

Fast facts: Shawn took home his first Diageo World Class title in 2009. His Speakeasy bar, Omakase + Appreciate, is No. 10 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

2. Tequila Forever

Attapon De-Silva of Q&A bar in Bangkok is in town for Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017 and talks to Wine & Dine

“Most people try to avoid drinking tequila-based cocktails because they believe tequila is difficult to drink, burns the throat, and causes terrible hangovers. However, the truth is that tequila is a fragrant, aromatic spirit that contains the same amount of alcohol as vodka and rum… even lower than certain kinds of gin or whisky! As for hangovers, it is mostly about the lack of water consumption, so it’s important to have lots of it after a night out, just before going to bed.” – Attapon De-Silva of Q&A, Bangkok

Fast facts: Attapon is a self-taught mixologist who picked up the trade at age 19. He helms Q&A, a sleekly furnished bar that ranks No. 26 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. Ask for his signature Questions and Answers cocktails when you see him next week.

3. Absolutely Absinthe

Lester Ligon of ABV bar in Manila for Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017 talks to Wine & Dine

“At ABV, we represent ourselves as a cocktail and absinthe bar—we’re focused on educating the consumers about absinthe and its wonders along with the proper ways of enjoying it. This high-proof spirit that has been re-distilled with plants and herbs including anise, fennel and wormwood has been one of the most sought-after liquors. Much has been said about absinthe, very little of which is true. First of all, absinthe does not make you hallucinate. It is not wildly addictive. It won’t cause you to cut your ear. The misconception began in the 19th Century when absinthe production wasn’t regulated. Absinthe, back then, was so popular that some producers used industrial-grade non-potable alcohol and flavoured it with commercial oil extracts. It didn’t originate from France; early evidences of absinthe can be traced back to 17th century Switzerland. Lastly, absinthe shouldn’t be served by the shot, with ice nor with a flaming cube.” – Lester Ligon of ABV, Manila

Fast facts: Lester is best known for his extravagant bespoke cocktails. He won the Whisky Live Manila Cocktail Competition last year, and was a finalist in the 2016 Diageo World Class South East Asian Challenge. His bar, ABV, or Alcohol By Volume, is No. 14 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars and is rated as one of the best bars in Asia.

Check out over 40 participating bars across the city offering special cocktail menus, thematic cocktail parties, bar tours, guest bartending stints from award-winning international bartenders and master classes at the festival this year.

Be sure to head to the 5,000-sqm festival village at 99 Beach Road—expect live music, a food street, a tasting room of handcrafted and small-batch spirits, plus 10 fully immersive cocktail and mocktail rooms where you can sample over 50 cocktails at $12 nett each.

Entry to the village is free.

Cover: Terry Kim of Alice, Seoul

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