At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
T.S. Eliot, ‘The Fire Sermon’
In the poem of T.S. Eliot, the violet hour refers to the time when the sun sets and the sky turns purple. It is tinged with sadness and represents something that is fading away to the British poet. However, at Astor Bar at The St. Regis Singapore, the violet hour takes on a whole new meaning. Here, the violet hour is celebrated instead.
When the clock strikes six, Astor Bar sets the stage for an evening ritual – a much-cherished signature ritual at St. Regis hotels around the world, in fact. The mixologist preps table-side glasses of velvety martini to be shared with guests of Astor Bar. It’s the perfect way to kick off an evening of cocktails.
Astor Bar has recently launched its New York New York cocktail menu, which pays tribute to the original House of Astor – The St. Regis New York. It takes inspiration from five neighbourhoods in New York City, namely Lower Manhattan, Midtown, Upper Manhattan, East Side and West Side. Each neighbourhood ‘chapter’ features three cocktails with influences from the neighbourhood’s distinct characteristics.
A bona fide cocktail connoisseur would not disagree that mixology is a craft and the mixologist plays a crucial role in elevating your cocktail experience. Astor Bar’s mixologist Yvonne Tay – known otherwise by her nickname, Von – charms guests with not only her flair and artistry for mixing cocktail creations but captivates with her affable personality, stories and humour. She engages with passionate tales of her experiments with unusual ingredients for cocktail creations.
Take for instance, the cocktail Tong Wars (S$24) under the Lower Manhattan ‘chapter’. Sitting in Lower Manhattan, New York’s Chinatown is home to a dense population of Asian immigrants and a community of vibrant characters. Von looks to her grandmother’s recipes for inspiration and adopts the use of salted dried Chinese plums, chilli bitters, spiced honey and apple in concocting Tong Wars. Balance is key in a good cocktail and thankfully, Tong Wars retains a good balance of flavours despite the fiery Habanero bite. This is a drink for those who like it hot.
The honour of the unanimous crowd-pleaser, however, goes to Capitan’s Cure (S$26) under the Midtown ‘chapter’. This cocktail is a twist on the Gimlet, a classic cocktail that features gin and lime juice. Astor Bar’s rendition of the aperitif uses vodka, Italian vermouth, Spanish dry sherry and a mint and lime cordial. The dryness from the vermouth, acidity from the sherry and sweetness from the cordial comes together to form a cocktail reminiscent of sea breeze – easy, light and cool.
If you crave a taste of old New York affluence, head up to Upper Manhattan then with A Sip of Gilded Age (S$26). This sweet aperitif is made with cognac, manzanilla sherry, blackberry liqueur and ruby port, topped off with aromatic bitters. It makes for a memorable cocktail that shows off the brandy in style.
The cocktails of Astor Bar are generally much like the bar itself – refined, elegant and understated. Fashioned in polished dark timber and outfitted with brown leather armchairs and plush banquette, Astor Bar is one good-looking bar for the traditional and discerning, with an atmosphere that is quiet and welcoming. While we wait for the days of unfettered travel to start again, Astor Bar is a destination for now — if and when you crave a taste of the Big Apple. Be prepared to lose yourself to Astor Bar’s charm while sipping your evening tipple.
29 Tanglin Road
Lobby Level, The St. Regis Singapore
Tel: +65 6506 6866