I like to think that I’m usually quite on top of things when it comes to new joints on the cocktail scene. But somehow Tree totally escaped my radar until someone mentioned it a few weeks back. And it seems like I’m not the only one, as this very cool yet understated bar has been around since November but has kept things pretty low-key.
Walking past it on Neil Road, from the outside you would never even know it existed unless someone had told you. Looking for number 148, we heard some cool beats winding their way down the stairs and so we followed them up.
WOW! Are we really in Singapore? This reminded me of the super cool, artsy bars of my university days back in the UK or places I’ve hung out in Amsterdam. A trail of never ending almost psychedelic graffiti flows from one wall to the next against the softness of candlelight and furniture that looks like it wants you to stay for a while.
On a school night. Uh oh.
Service matches the personality of the bar, and as soon as Pei Pei shines over, we know that things will be different here. She waxes lyrical about the cocktails on offer, reeling off insights about what makes them unique like she was born to do this.
We’re recommended to kick things off with a Carlos Martini, which we’re told is kind of like a poor man’s martini – think struggling musician. A special concoction whipped up with vermouth, lemon oil, Lillet (an apertif from Bordeaux) and served up with a pipet of olive juice so you can squeeze as much or as little as you want in.
I sip it straight before introducing my olive juice in. It’s fantastically fresh and light, yet with an unusual depth and a little something-something I can’t put my finger on. It’s fun to introduce the olive juice little by little, tasting how this changes the flavour and body of the drink as you keep on sipping.
Chef Tim makes an appearance. He’s the brains behind Tree and the Garden of Eden restaurant underneath. Though not a mixologist by trade, he started using his culinary experience to experiment with mixology on this venture. The result is raw experimental mixology with things like liquid nitrogen and all sorts of incredible infusions from vanilla infused bourbon, white tea infused vodka and for the not-faint-hearted absinthe infused with ginger, lemon and 4 different types of chilli. Hmmm…could this be Singapore’s Heston Blumenthal of mixology? Perhaps so..!
Because by this time we are sat at the bar, we get to sample a cocktail in wine gum form. A cocktail in sweet form? Easy now….
Hehzee, my cocktail companion for the evening, orders a Pink Panther - a delicious combination of pink grapefruit and orange infused vodka.
Our absolute all-time favourite that we sampled on this visit to Tree (because I know there will be more!) was the Apple and Blackberry Crumble. I promise I’m not making this up when I say that on the first sip I physically felt this do a lap of my tastebuds when it hit my mouth. Although this was in essence sweet, again it had a lot of depth to it. A very tasty combination of fresh apple, Blackthorn vodka, burnt cinnamon plus some liquid nitrogen antics thrown into the equation made this really unique to other drinks that might seem similar on the face of things.
For those who love their drinks of the minty kind, or if you are one of those people who can not get enough of after dinner mints, try the After Eight. This tastes EXACTLY like an After Eight dinner mint! Those of you who have had one will know precisely what I’m getting at here. Oooh and it also uses the rather indulgent Mozart chocolate liqueur.
Finally we turn our attention to For Peach Sake!!! because who doesn’t love a sake cocktail? Made with sweet peaches and sake this was a fresh and fruity number but with a bit of an edge to it thanks to the four shots of sake. Once again, a very more-ish and dangerously drinkable.
I am most definitely adding Tree to my list of cool cocktail places. Wicked drinks with attitude, humour, attention to detail but yet unpretentious against the backdrop of a funky interior and cool music. Oh and pretty reasonable with cocktails starting at $18. So if you haven’t already, it’s time you started climbing up those steps to Tree.
Tree is at 148 Neil Road. Open Tuesday – Saturday 6pm-midnight. Tel: 6222-2119.
Written by Ms Demeanour
Drinks paid for by City Nomads