Behind the Bar
Singapore’s Iconic Cocktail Heads for the Barrel
At the grand hotel bar Manhattan, bartender Bischoff breathes new life into his adopted city's namesake drink.
Berlin native Philip Bischoff started his career at the Felix Club in his hometown, and from there began a globetrotting career that has spanned multiple countries and continents. Following stints in Switzerland, Frankfurt, Paris, and Hamburg, he made the move to Asia as part of the team at Manhattan in the Regent Singapore, a Four Seasons hotel, where he now serves as the bar manager of the swanky venue.
Somewhere along the way, Bischoff was introduced to Cherry Heering, the bright-red brandy from Denmark, and he was hooked. “It goes way back to my first steps as a bartender,” he says, referring to the lively ingredient that’s essential to several classic cocktails, “And of course, a Singapore Sling was one of the first drinks that I learned.”
That reverence for history and tradition is obvious at Manhattan, the glamorous interior and atmosphere of which are inspired by the 19th century’s golden age of cocktails and drinking. Bischoff works hard to ensure that the bar excels in every area of service, describing it as a place where “craft bartending meets artisanal spirits to pay homage to classic and forgotten cocktails that leap from the pages of history.”
It is this interest in the overlap of classic and modern that allows Bischoff to bring classic, unique ingredients to the forefront in his cocktails: “Cherry Heering survived the test of time, which is a confirmation of its versatility, and it is definitely here to stay for the pleasure of discerning drinkers.”
Bischoff’s Cherry Heering cocktails, like the Barrel-Aged Singapore Sling (featured below), have been so popular that he decided to share his love for the ingredient with the world, teaching a master class to other spirit enthusiasts and bartenders. The Heering “Modern Classics” event, which included workshops and classes in more than 75 cities, was designed to inspire bartenders to use the unique ingredient in their own cocktail menus.
The Barrel-Aged Singapore Sling, Manhattan’s own take on a modern classic, is not only a twist on Singapore’s iconic drink, but also produced and aged in liaison with the bar’s own rickhouse. The deep, woodsy notes produced by the barrel-aging are countered by the bright pineapple foam on top, putting the drink in perfect harmony.
Along with senior bartender Gabriel Martin Carlos and head bartender Cedric Allen Mendoza, Bischoff and his students combined the cherry liqueur with dozens of different spirits and modifiers: “We were so surprised at how the flavors differed in quite a huge way among each and every spirit.” A surprising favorite? The pairing of peated whiskey and Cherry Heering: the smoky, earthy quality of the whiskey brought out an unexpected savory side to the Heering.
But the most important thing Bischoff discovered during his master class? “Learn with the class. It is very important not just to give your opinion to the audience, but to also encourage them to share their views as well.”
Barrel-Aged Singapore Sling
(to age for three months in a 131 American Oak barrel)
- 3000ml Plantation 3 Star Rum
- 1500ml Koko Kanu Coconut Rum
- 750ml DOM Benedictine
- 2250ml Peter Heering Cherry Liqueur
- 750ml Dry Fino Sherry
- 1500ml Tanqueray Nº TEN
Directions: Stir 90 ml of cocktail over ice. Strain into a champagne glass. Top with pineapple foam.
- 500ml Pineapple juice
- 100ml Egg white
- 2 units CO2 charge
- 90ml lime juice
Directions: Place egg white, pineapple juice and lime juice into a cream siphon charger. Double charge with CO2. Top cocktail with foam.