Dry January might be over, but the sober curious movement is still, well, on the move. New to Singapore’s market is Lyre’s and its range of non-alcoholic alternatives to spirits and liqueurs.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Driven by a generation that’s drinking less and more discerningly, nonalcoholic (NA) alternatives have become a rapidly growing market. Although booze-free beer and wine have been around for almost a century, a relatively new, nonalcoholic “spirit” category of products meant to mimic alcoholic drinks, is hitting the bar scene. So, it’s goodbye sugary, fruit juice-based mocktails as alcohol-free rum, gin, whisky and more replace regular tipples.

With one of the most progressive bar scenes in the world, Singapore is no exception to shifting trends. The newest NA spirit brand to enter the market is Lyre’s from Australia. Named for the Lyrebird that’s known for its uncanny ability to mimic sounds, Lyre’s features one of the most comprehensive portfolios around with 13 variants meant as alternatives for everything from bourbon and white rum to coffee liqueur and absinthe.

Unlike some NA spirit brands that distil the alcohol from their products, Lyre’s builds its flavours from the ground up. Using a mix of natural flavours, extracts and distillates derived from different botanicals, it has managed to accurately mimic the flavours, mouth feel and even burn (cleverly done with pepper extract and other ingredients) of alcoholic beverages.

While we won’t say that its range of products are indistinguishable from the real McCoy, some in the range, like the Italian Spritz (which for obvious legal reasons cannot be called Aperol), come pretty close.   
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The Time Collection, a set of limited-edition Louis XIII Cognacs from Remy Martin, marks the milestones of the illustrious Louis XIII cognac. The first to launch was The Origin - 1874 at the end of 2016, with the promise of a new collectible every two years or so. The second, Tribute to City of Lights - 1900, was recently released in a limited-edition decanter commemorating the year Louis XIII cognac was unveiled at the famous World Fair in Paris to resounding praise. The crystal decanter, made by Saint-Louis, is based on a distinctive design inspired by a 16th century flask. It has 13 dentelle spikes instead of 10, and an upside down, decanter shaped stopper with NFC technology that lets you register your decanter with the Louis XIII Society. In the centre is a medallion minted by the Monnaie de Paris. Only 2,000 decanters have been made and presented to buyers with a separate bronze medallion engraved with the decanter’s number.
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The latest project from 1-Group is 1-VU (read as “one view”),  a dualconcept featuring a day club and a modern-Asian restaurant. What ties the two together – besides being right next to each other – is head chef Ace Tan, who brings his brand of progressive Asian cooking to both the club and the restaurant. Party poolside and bite into a wagyu burger with kimchi slaw and black garlic cream while sipping on a selection of easy-drinking signature cocktails, like Moonlight Swizzle, a refreshing, aromatic concoction of fresh grapes, kaffir, gin, and vermouth.
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The Singapore Sling brings out mixed feelings. It’s a symbol of questionable colonial nostalgia, but also a boozy ambassador for the country. While it started out as a gin-based sling cocktail for ladies in 1915, it devolved into a saccharine-sweet, mass-produced cocktail in the 1980s. Today, the blueprint of the famous cocktail has inspired four cocktails on the drinks list at Sling, a new mod Singaporean gastro bar from Maison Ikkoku’s founder Ethan Leslie Leong. They include the 1819 Sling with a spiced pineapple liqueur, cinnamon and peppery spices, and Coco Sling, a concoction suffused with roasted coconut and topped with young coconut meringue.