Smoke & Mirrors has been building up quite the reputation as a cocktail bar inclined towards laboratory-like experimentation.
In the hands of its new head bartender Jorge Conde, that reputation is further advanced: the revamped menu, Illusion of Flavours, is a culmination of Conde’s love for art, cocktail savvy and curious spirit. The cocktails are loosely based on classic flavours, but reimagined using distillation, preservation and fermentation techniques. The bigger goal is to challenge preconceptions and draw intrigue; the minimalist presentation is also deliberate to focus attention squarely on each drink’s complex flavour profile.
Take Peel & See ($28). Inspired by Andy Warhol’s iconic cover for The Velvet Underground, Conde fat-washed gin with banana, miso and olive oil, and topped that with quinine aperitif for what comes across as a shimmery dirty martini with sultry, rounded umami notes and the faintest suggestion of ripe bananas. Dali’s Self Portrait ($28) is as surreal as it promises—“smells like a lemon tree but tastes like a Manhattan,” as Conde puts it. Fermented agave, dehydrated jackfruit, pepper-infused tequila make Jack of the Jungle ($25) incredibly smashable—fruity, smoky and citrusy all at once. It’s among several pre-batched cocktails that are aged via a solera-like system. Be nice, and Conde might just let you have sips of a few batches to appreciate how the cocktail’s nuances have developed over time.
#06-01, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road. Tel: 9380 6313
This article was first published in Wine & Dine May/June 2019: Game-Changing Innovations.