In a city now filled with cocktail bars – six of the world’s top 50 bars are in Singapore – there is still a lot to love about Operation Dagger, 24th on the 2017 World’s Best Bars list. While it’s not the newest, it is arguably the most original, an approach its maintained since opening in 2014.
The team, together with owner and bartender Luke Whearty, aren’t your typical bartenders. While they adhere to the golden theory of balancing flavours, they push the boundaries in the most creative of ways while impressively practicing a close loop approach, using produce and ingredients in its entirety.
In short, this isn’t a bar for someone looking to chug beers and throw back shots. It’s an experience best enjoyed via their omakase experience (3 course, $95; five course, $150). To set expectations, this experience is similar to dining in the dark. You’re unlikely to guess exactly what you’re drinking (the absence of the standard bar display of familiar housepour bottles doesn’t help), you will need the assistance of OD’s well informed staff to explain your tipple, and also all your senses to process the contrasting textures, flavours and aromas.
We started with an amuse bouche (above to cleanse the palate, compressed melon served with distilled coriander gin that’s made in-house on some home smoked yoghurt and dusted with cucumber matcha powder made from dehydrated cucumber skins. A refreshing bite that defied conventions, the melon wasn’t sweet but rather stiff in its texture, and only served to remind us of OD’s commitment to making things from scratch.
Next was Orange ($22) under their “Natural” ferments which initally resembled a glass of peach nectar. On first sip, it delivered quite the punch. Fermented in-house for a week using everything from oranges, carrots, rock melons and orange blossom, the heady flavour of the fermented fruits is lifted by the faintest scent of orange blossom. Best sipped, it pairs well with OD’s crisp French Fries ($8) – fried French beans with garlic salt – Soy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds ($6) and fresh baby gem Lettuce Hearts ($8) dressed in refreshing apple cider vinegar; possibly three of the healthiest bar snacks around.
The inonculous looking G.O.A.T ($25) under their Dangerous Drinking Water section was served next. Created by Whearty while having “one of my favourite classic cocktails called A Bamboo cocktail and some goat’s cheese”, the colourless tipple is made by distilling goat’s cheese with a gin before combining it with a fino sherry, honey and fermented pineapple. The result is a mouthful that’s hard to decipher – not necessarily a bad thing.
The tartness of the fermented pineapple pairs surprisingly well with the goat’s cheese and the honey rounds out the drink with a hint of sweetness. The chocolate-looking garnish is actually a goat’s cheese and pineapple crisp made from the leftover pineapple pulp that retains a hint of goat’s cheese that’s extremely moorish.
We paired with the Burrata ($16), which is simply served with sweet heirloom tomatoes, some tomato salt, parsley oil and slices of well made sourdough to soak up the sherry. There’s no need to complicate high quality Burrata cheese.
For dessert, the Roelofs ($25), inspired by Whearty’s good friend and world renowed pastry chef Pierre Roelofs, is a multi-step experience. Whearty tells us that the garnish is inspired by his famous dessert tubes in which you suck the contents of the straw in one mouthful. For this drink, it means getting the flavours of smoked yoghurt, apricot and granola before chasing it down with a potent pistachio tequila that’s almost like a rakia.
Served with the Peaches + Cream ($10) – inspired by Magnus Nilsson and his ‘almost burnt cream’ recipe – the sweet, grilled peaches are balanced by the champagne vinegar and dollops of not-too-sweet burnt cream; the perfect (and sweet) ending to a gourmet experience that exceeded all expectations and conventions.
7 Ann Siang Hill, #B1-01, tel: 6438 4057, operationdagger.com