Sustainability always gets us excited. And not because it’s sexy now to talk about. Truth is, we’re just pretty big fans in general of the thing that sustains life. Like an infatuated John Green fan: as we read more about sustainability, we fell in love with the lifestyle the way we fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
So imagine our excitement when our Group bar manager Yan Tukiman and Lucha Loco bar manager, Nash Rahman, were inspired to create a line of conscious craft cocktails or especial cocteles that also incorporated zero-waste into their recipes, right down to the very last drop served. We chat to these master mixologists behind the bar on how they brought their new creations to life.
Lucha Loco bar manager Nash Rahman behind the bar, mixing the Olivia cocktail.
What served as your inspiration in creating the new craft cocktail menu?
We wanted to illustrate how versatile major culinary herbs and spices used in Mexican cuisine could be. Many of them are already used in traditional desserts, so we thought: why not cocktails, then? We posed that question amongst ourselves, looking for ways that we could introduce a savoury spin to our cocktails, and at the same time hopefully create a fun conversation.
Sustainability too, was definitely a big part of it. Our sustainably made in-house Arquitecto Tequila has been a big hit with our guests, using pioneering low-carbon and low-waste technology for sustainable production. We have been wanting to create more guest favourites since, so with the above in mind, we set out to revitalise our cocktail bar with fresh and curiously exciting options that would intrigue our guests, and responsibly source ingredients readily and easily available to us here that were also part of the Mexican diet, in the process.
From left to right: the tropical La Parchita, followed by the aquafava-based Olivia and citrusy Pistelero in the background, surrounded by the ingredients used in their recipes.
Are there any unique or new ingredients you have introduced to the bar in this menu, that have been used differently from the ways in which they are typically used in Mexican cuisine?
The spices and herbs that we use in our in-house agave nectar infusions, which are made with high-quality agave imported directly from Mexico. Here’s an interesting coincidence: some spices and herbs commonly used in Mexican cuisine are also used widely in Singaporean cuisine. We used these in our infusions for that very reason—namely black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cilantro—as well as more exclusively Mexican spices such as serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers and ancho chillies, just to list a few.
Jalapeno-infused Scraps & Hot Lips, which leaves a subtle lingering sensation of heat that dances on the lips.
Which cocktails did you have the most fun making, and why?
Oh, definitely our Scraps & Hot Lips cocktail! It’s always a bit of an adventure making this one, because no two versions are made exactly the same. This is where it gets interesting: we collect the trimmings from our bar garnishes or what we fondly term the “Chopping Board Agave”, which differ daily depending on which cocktails we’ve made, and infuse them with the agave nectar, using a pasteurisation method. As citrus fruit production generally leaves a larger carbon footprint in comparison to other fruits, we also dehydrate leftover fresh lime wheels across our cocktails to use as its garnish. In this way, we’ve managed to reduce our daily food waste by “recycling” it at the bar and giving it a second shot to fulfil its life purpose of nourishment. Or rather, hydration, in this instance.
The Pandan Colada, infused with pandan agave nectar and made with The Loco Group's in-house sustainably made Arquitecto Tequila, nestled in a traditional terracotta vessel commonly used around Mexico.
How do you navigate the challenges of incorporating singular Mexican flavours into cocktails tailored for a Singaporean audience?
By happy chance, both Mexican and Singaporean cuisines share an appetite for spice and similarly so with the profile of herbs used in both cultures. In addition to the Mexican chillies used, we chose regional ingredients that would be familiar to the Singaporean palate, such as lemongrass, turmeric, galangal, pandan and ginger. Additionally, each individual cocktail selection under each venue is designed to complement its atmosphere and guests, as well as the dining menus offered.
There were also many factors that we had to consider when it came to perfecting our recipes: such as the age and body of each type of tequila and mezcal, the percentage ratio of agave to infusion ingredients—in particular, citrus where every drop makes a world of difference—and especially the infusion time of our agave nectar infusions.
Left column: Bright overt tropical tones take over our La Parchita, while the spice of jalapeno-infused agave and smoky mezcal in Scraps & Hot Lips leaves a lingering sensation of heat dancing on the lips.
Middle column: Rich fig balsamic vinegar imparts berry notes and nuanced spice to nutty cold brew in the smooth and delectable devil that is Cafe Copado. Dragonfruit Paloma's tropical and fruity character brightens up the scene with lively Cachaca 61 Rum, softened with the delicate sweetness of dragonfruit.
Right column: Invigorating cucumber and creamy coconut milk complement the vanilla notes of pandan in Robertson Quay's Pandan Colada, while aromatic kaffir leaf is the centre of attention in a classic Thai Lime Tommy's.
What are five favourite or must-try picks from the new line of craft cocktails that you would recommend to someone who has not yet tasted them?
We’ve got two great mezcal-based options here at Lucha Loco: those looking for something that’s smoky with oaky undertones will enjoy our jalapeno-infused Scraps & Hot Lips, which leaves a suble tingling sensation on your lips. New mezcal drinkers who might be after something a little brighter and tart with citrus notes will find their initiation drink in our La Parchita. Robertson Quay’s creamy and nutty Pandan Colada is a must, which offers a herbaceous spin on a classic favourite, using pandan-infused agave to lend smooth vanilla notes. Our refreshing Thai Lime Tommy’s is also a great option that’s a little more floral and aromatic, with kaffir lime and cinnamon agave.
If you find yourselves at Customs House, we’d go with our Cafe Copado, made with rich fig balsamic which imparts berry notes and nuanced spice to nutty cold brew. Not a coffee person? Here’s an alternative: our Dragonfruit Paloma is a delicately sweet and fruity option that’s perfect for sipping by the bay.