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Bespoke Cocktails With Hearty Eats
Cocktail lovers who want to enjoy innovative tipples with a hearty dinner under one roof should make a beeline for Fort by Maison Ikkoku (#01-02/03 Fort Canning Arts Centre).
Founded by award-winning mixologist Ethan Leslie Leong, the 1.5-year-old restaurant and bar serves sushi rolls, Japanese seafood rice bowls, carpaccio, live Irish oysters, sliders, a five-course menu with cocktail pairings, and a $68 omakase 12-course menu, all created by Leong who is also an accomplished chef.
Drinkswise, Leong has crafted a wide range of creative cocktails using infused spirits made in-house, fresh fruits and herbs that pair well with the dishes served, as well as bespoke creations personalised for drinkers based on their preferences.
The veteran mixologist is also the brains behind 5-year-old bar and restaurant Maison Ikkoku (20 Kandahar Street, Level 2) which was voted and awarded “Best Cocktail Bar” by Singaporeans for two consecutive years (2015 and 2016).
Maison Ikkoku at 20 Kandahar Street
Fort’s interiors, designed by the multi-talented Leong, exude an industrial chic yet intimate vibe, with its dim lighting from a handful of Edison bulb pendant light fixtures and old-fashioned oil lamps on the table; ceiling with exposed pipes; bare concrete walls; polished copper-top table propped up by railway sleepers; black swivel bar chairs; and red velvet curtains.
Diners and drinkers sit around the bar, the domain of passionate Italian resident mixologist Matteo Cadeddu who can whip up your favourite cocktail or craft one that will not only thrill your taste buds but also your eyes as it often comes dressed with flowers, tomatoes and even a quick burst of flame. Just let him know what flavours you like (or don’t like) and he’ll come up with a smooth and well-balanced concoction that is guaranteed to hit the spot.
Standing out from the rest, the bar creates its own infusions such as strawberry vodka, daisy vodka, pandan (screwpine leaf) vodka, blue cheese gin and earl grey gin using a RotoVap (rotary evaporator), a distillation apparatus, which take pride of place on the bar.
Whisky fans must try the bar’s popular Antibiotic cocktail, a sweet, smoky concoction of whisky, fresh ginger and lemongrass infused with the aroma of burning bourbon wood, served in a bottle that has cheeky “warning” quotes on its label.
Whisky-based cocktail, Antibiotic, is a house specialty
Those who have a penchant for mixing their own drinks can sign up for Fort’s mixology class, “The Art of Balancing”, to pick up invaluable tips from the experts.
The Farm – Roasted black pork, Martell Cordon Bleu, beetroot
The small open-concept kitchen, helmed by resident chef Francis Fong, churns out signature offerings such as The Farm, black pork cooked sous vide for three days till fork-tender, then roasted and served with beetroot mash, edamame and grated purple baby carrots; The Sea, a seabed-inspired dish of raw Hokkaido scallop, Irish oyster, ikura, tobiko, ebiko and dehydrated seaweed layered on a bed of sea salt ice; and The Fort, a spicy maki roll filled with maguro, Japanese cucumber and Leong’s addictive secret homemade chilli sauce, topped with onion sprouts.
The Sea – Hokkaido scallop, Irish oyster, seaweed, ikura, tobiko, ebiko, sea salt sorbet
The omakase menu offers something for every palate. Standouts include the ultra comforting Smoked Goose Conchiglie with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Truffle Oil; the juicy Lamb Slider; and the east-meets-west Lobster Tom Yam Bisque which boasts a rich and flavourful prawn stock.
Photos courtesy of Fort by Maison Ikkoku