SMOKE & MIRRORS WELCOMES NEW HEAD BARTENDER, LAUNCHES BOUNDARY-PUSHING “ILLUSION OF FLAVOURS” MENU (15 Apr 2019)
Renowned destination rooftop barSmoke & Mirrors announces exciting updates, including the arrival of new Head Bartender Jorge Conde and the launch of a creative cocktail menu, Illusion of Flavours. Developed by Jorge, the list consists of sixteen progressive drinks that combine artistry and chemistry, inspired by classic cocktails.
With over fourteen years of industry experience and a background in graphic design, Jorge has a keen eye for detail, a love for art and a curious spirit about the world around him. Drawing from his training in bars across his home country of Spain and his experience in London before moving to Singapore, Jorge provides world-class warmth and hospitality to every guest.
With his endless creativity and flair, he has curated a collection of cocktails influenced by his love for the arts that stay true to the Smoke & Mirrors name, combining spirits and magical illusions while pushing the boundaries of expectations with modern techniques. Tools like the rotary evaporator, a device regularly used in chemical laboratories, are used to redistill and reimagine flavours for the majority of the menu, creating surprising and unusual combinations not otherwise found in the bar.
“For this menu, my goal was to reimagine classic cocktails, focusing on traditional flavour profiles and exploring new ways to create them,” says Jorge, “By using techniques such as distillation, preservation and fermentation, we are able to create unconventional combinations that will surprise and intrigue our guests. I find that people often have preconceptions about how a drink will taste, and I wanted to challenge those expectations with our drinks. While the presentation may appear to be simple, the flavour profiles are quite complex and layered, evolving as you enjoy the drink. As you may expect from the name, there is more than meets the eye.”
“Illusion of Flavours” is divided into six categories, each featuring a selection of cocktails inspired by different flavour sensations. Bringing the menu into the digital age, QR codes for top cocktails invite guests to discover more about the preparation if they choose. Art is a consistent theme of the menu, with cocktails paying homage to renowned classics which have inspired Jorge such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Vincent van Gogh. Pricing varies per cocktail, with prevailing GST (7%) and service charge (10%) added accordingly.
Fizzy & Elegant
The first section of the menu features offerings such as the agave-based The Heart of Vincent (SGD 28), inspired by a famous quote from The Letters of Vincent van Gogh. “The heart of a man is very much like the seas. It has storms, it has its tides, and, in its depths, it has its pearls too.” Savoury elements are woven throughout the drink with a depth of flavours from sea salt, quinine, sparkling wine and pickled purslane, an edible local succulent plant.
A herbaceous twist on the classic French 75, Le Paix 75 (SGD 28) integrates locally sourced dog fennel through infusion and re-distillation with a rotary evaporator. For this translucent cocktail, the expected citrus elements come through the gin infusion, sparkling wine and brine of the green olive garnish.
Sour & Neat
The traditional acidic component of cocktails comes to life through unexpected ingredients in this section, exemplified in The Japanese Gang is Still Alive (SGD 25), an experimental twist on a whiskey sour infused with local ingredients. Black sesame and black rice are used in two forms, first fat-washed with butter and whiskey, then dehydrated and repurposed as a garnish to give an additional layer of texture. Adding rice vinegar and aquafaba – a substitute to frothy egg whites – the resulting combination comes to life with bubbly effervescence as the drink is enjoyed, evolving the overall flavour profile which every sip.
In a nod to Singapore’s beloved Formula 1 Championship, Between the F1 (SGD 25) is a combination of two classics, Between the Sheets and a Sidecar. Bamboo charcoal imparts a striking black colour, evoking tires racing across the pavement of the nearby Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Long & Refreshing
On the lighter side, Just a Thai Spritz (SGD 22) is an ode to the spritzer which will never go out of style. Thai tea is infused into neutral vodka, then balanced with preserved lemon, apricot brandy, Bianco vermouth and sparkling wine. Garnished with locally-sourced sorrel, the drink is finished with a pleasant citrusy note to complement the floral, earthy flavour profile.
Putting a Smoke & Mirrors spin on the classic Singapore Sling, Robbery At The Museum (SGD 28) introduces several variations of sour cherry to the traditional mix of gin and pineapple. Maraschino liqueur, cherry brandy and house-made cherry bitters blend with gin, local herbs, fermented pineapple and a fizzy foam of aquafaba and soda water for a playful take on the local favourite.
Strong & Neat
This section features spirit-forward serves such as Dali’s Self Portrait (SGD 28),inspired by the surrealist artist who showcased the madness of his dreams and hallucinations in unforgettable images. Paying homage to the renowned “Soft Self-Portrait with Grilled Bacon,” this twist on a Manhattan adds bacon fat and artichoke to a base of whiskey and vermouth. Lacing the glass with wisps of burnt rosemary smoke, an invisible garnish lends a herbal quality to the rich, Mediterranean-inspired drink.
The first drink Jorge created for his new menu, La Fumata Bianca (SGD 28), translates to “The White Smoke,” signifying a new appointment at the head. Inspired by a Negroni, this drink turns the classic on its head by replacing all three quintessential ingredients. Smoky agave-based raicilla replaces gin, while gentian liqueur stands in for the bitter Campari and a blend of Bianco and quinine vermouth take the place of sweet vermouth. Garnished with an unseen spritz of grapefruit oil, the drink is then topped with a float of white truffle oil for an earthy, aromatic effect.
Fruity & Punchy
Infused with fresh ingredients, the next section leads with the intriguing Picasso’s Pencil (SGD 25), designed to celebrate flavours of Picasso’s native southern Spain. A true artist, Picasso’s first word was noted as “piz,” short for “lapiz,” the Spanish word for pencil. Taking guests back to primary school, aromas and flavours come to life through distilled pencil wood, combined with smoky agave, preserved lemon, fruity Manzanilla sherry, apple vinegar and tonic.
The epitome of illusion, the signature Smoke & Mirrors #4 (SGD 28)was designed to awaken curiosity and inspire guests to question what they are told. Clear black in colour, the complex drink develops layers of flavours from the blend of agave cooked and redistilled with strawberry, cacao-infused spirit, pure milk vodka, bamboo charcoal and a salt & pepper finish. Served over ice with a salty strawberry powder, the final product is fruity, balanced with notes of smoke, earth, salt and bitterness.
Savoury & Umami
Moving in a more culinary direction, this section features the banana-infused Peel and See (SGD 28), inspired by Andy Warhol’s iconic piece for The Velvet Underground. The unlikely combination of banana, miso and olive oil are integrated into the gin base through a multi-step process of sous vide, dehydration and fat-washing, then combined with quinine aperitif and served with an additional dash of olive oil for garnish.
For fans of the classic Bloody Mary, The Farm is Burnt (SGD 28) is a spicy variation with unexpected additions such as fermented tomato, radish brine and smoky mezcal combined with celery, spices and chipotle. The familiar citrus garnish is reimagined in a float of citric ash basil oil, made by charring the citrus husk until completely black and blended with basil oil.
To Be Continued…
Constantly playing around with new concepts and techniques, Jorge sees the launch of “Illusion of Flavours” as just the beginning. The menu will evolve over time, continuing to entice guests and push the boundaries of creativity.