Native Cocktail Bar

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Native's bar counter and service area. Photo from Native's website.

Specializing in uniquely synthesized cocktails made from local and regional produce, Native (website) is an award-winning cocktail bar in Singapore which first opened its doors in December 2016.[1] In 2019, Native was ranked 4th on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, representing Singapore in the Top 10 alongside bars like Jigger and Pony.

Founders

Before founding Native, Vijay Mudaliar (centre) won industry awards such as the Diplomático World Tournament Singapore Final in 2015. Photo from The Straits Times.

Vijay Mudaliar

Vijay Mudaliar is one of the co-founders and bar manager of Native. Vijay Mudaliar previously studied at Henderson Secondary School and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.[2] Halfway through his degree studies, Vijay decided to pursue bartending as a full-time career in 2008. He was part of the opening team for Pollen Street Social; a restaurant owned by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton.[3] The mixologist gained exposure from working guest shifts at distinguished bars such as The Library, La Maison du Whisky, Blind Pig and Operation Dagger.[4][5]

Awards won

Year Awarding organisation/ Event Title Notes
2018 Asia’s 50 Best Bars Altos Bartenders’ Bartender[6]
2018 The Bar Awards Singapore Bartender of the Year[7]
2018 The Bar Awards Singapore Best Hospitality Ambassador[8] Top 10 Nominee
2018 Restaurant, Pub and Bar Asia Bartender Invitational Pop Up Award[9] Shared with Steve Schneider
2018 Restaurant, Pub and Bar Asia Bartender Invitational Cocktail Party Award[10] Shared with Steve Schneider
2018 Restaurant, Pub and Bar Asia Bartender Invitational Best Bar Team[11]
2017 The Bar Awards Singapore Bartender of the Year[12]
2015 Diplomático World Tournament Singapore Final 2015 Winner[13]

Bar decor and concept

The entrance to Native's main bar on the second-floor. Photo from Kayak.sg.

Native is situated in a three-storey shophouse at 52A Amoy Street.[14] Upon entry lies a staircase leading to the main bar on the 2nd floor. The area offers limited seating of bar stools and a banquette booth. A second bar and additional seating can be found on the 3rd floor.


The bar culture at Native aims to connect its patrons with a deeper sense of locality which can be experienced through its signature cocktails.[15] Commitment towards a rich cultural experience can also be seen through the Batik fabric patterns on the staff aprons.[16] Furniture and various pottery are procured from local craftsmen.[17] The bar has a curated playlist consisting of 600 songs — 85 per cent of which are local.[18]

Urban foraging

Above: A wild tamarind. Native sources for cocktail ingredients through urban foraging. Photo from Native's Facebook page.

Native sources for cocktail ingredients within a 400-metre radius of the bar around Ann Siang Hill. The bar uses foraged wild plants, fruits and flowers in their beverages - such as betel leaf, jackfruit and pink jasmine. The bar only stocks a selection of local and regional liquors such as Singapore gin, Indian whisky, Thai rum and Sri Lankan Arak.[19]

Sustainability

Part of Native’s philosophy revolves around sustainability.[20] A large amount of time is spent on planning, calculating daily sales to apportion the amount of foraging needed while taking into consideration the environment.[21]


The bar upcycles lotus leaves - sourced from a local florist - as coasters which can be used for roughly 20 times before repurposing as compost.[22] The bar also utilizes solar power during its opening hours.[23] By reducing their carbon footprint, Native has seen significant cost savings from between 3 to 20 per cent in its daily operations.[24]

Signature drinks

The cocktail, "Antz" (above) is one of Native's signature beverages. Photo from Conde Nast Traveler.

Antz[25][26]

The cocktail draws inspiration from a drink made Brazilian Chef Alex Atala who runs D.O.M. in São Paulo with an injection of Thai elements. The cocktail includes locally foraged weaver ants which contain ascorbic acid(Vitamin C), Chalong Bay rum and homemade coconut yoghurt. Imported Thai Polyrhachis ants — flashed frozen, are plated on top of a basil leaf containing basil meringue and served as a garnish.

The Peranakan[27][28]

Created as a tribute to Peranakan culture, the drink is a fusion of Indian rum, jackfruit and locally made goat’s milk. When jackfruit is added to the mixture, the enzymes in the fruit reacts with milk and forms a clarified liquid and curd as the byproduct. To minimize waste, the curd is used to create a gelatinous substance with coconut, pandan and blue pea flowers.


Most of the ingredients used in the cocktail can be found in Peranakan cuisine. Examples include candlenuts which are valued for its nutty flavour profile, thick texture for sauces  and laksa leaf (Vietnamese Coriander) — used in famous Singaporean local dish Laksa.  

Sarapan[29]

Sarapan, which translates as ‘breakfast’ in the Malay lexicon is a homage to the quintessential Singaporean breakfast of kaya toast slices, soft boiled eggs and a hot cup of Kopi O.[30] The drink features a coconut distillate, butter roasted coffee, homemade kvass alcohol sourced from a local bakery. Added to the concoction are toasted bread crumbs with a hint of gula Melaka syrup and thin pandan egg yolk noodle strands.

Awards & accolades

Following its inception in late 2016, Native has been nominated for various titles in 2017 and 2018 as well.[31][32]

Year Awarding organisation Title Notes
2019 Asia’s 50 Best Bars 4th Place[33] One of Asia’s Top 5 Bars, risen 9 spots
2018 World’s 50 Best Bars 13th Place[34] Risen 34 spots  
2018 Asia’s 50 Best Bars 8th Place[35] Risen 12 spots
2017 The Bar Awards Singapore Most Creative Cocktail Bar[36] Winner[37]
2017 World’s 50 Best Bars 47th Place[38]
2017 Asia’s 50 Best Bars 20th Place[39]

Past events

Dates Event Description
13 June - 15 June 2019 Singapore  Bicentennial[40][41] 3-day event at Finsbury Square, London. Collaboration between Native and Lyaness in serving Singapore inspired cocktails.
6 June 2019 Association of Bartenders & Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS) cocktail pairing session[42] 1-day event at Fullerton Hotel, Singapore alongside Hiroyasu Kayama, owner of Bar BenFiddich and Samuel Kwok, Bar Manager of Quinary.
20 February - 21 February 2019 Singapore Social[43][44][45] 2-day event at The Rooftop Sydney, Australia featuring drinks served by Native and Operation Dagger.
16 November - 19 November 2017 Western Australia Gourmet Escape (Margaret River)[46] Headlined the event ‘The High Life’ in Australia, in collaboration with Chef Paul Iskov from Fervor.

References / Citations

  1. “Native A stylish bar specializing in cocktails made from Asian spirits and foraged produce”. SG Magazine. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://sgmagazine.com/nightlife/singapore-bar-club/native
  2. “Vijay Mudaliar”. Facebook. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/vijay.mudaliar
  3. “Press Release - Fang Fang to host cocktail  masterclass with acclaimed Singaporean bar maestro Vijay Mudaliar of Native cocktail bar on 13th July”. The Forks Spoons. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://theforksandspoons.com.hk/press/press-release-fang-fang-to-host-cocktail-masterclass-with-acclaimed-singaporean-bar-maestro-vijay-mudaliar-of-native-cocktail-bar-on-13th-july/  
  4. Van, Amy. “Singapore's Hottest Bartenders Predict 2018 Cocktail Trends”. The Peak Singapore - Your Guide to The Finer Things in Life. December 31, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://thepeakmagazine.com.sg/gourmet-travel/singapores-hottest-bartenders-predict-2018-cocktail-trends/
  5. “Vijay Mudaliar: Local for Local, I Am Proud of Where I'm from”. The Indigenous Bartender. November 28, 2016. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://indigenousbartender.com/2016/11/28/vijay-mudaliar-local-for-local-i-am-proud-of-where-im-from/
  6. Cheong, Wayne. “Manhattan Bar clinches top placing at the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018”. Esquire Singapore. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.esquiresg.com/manhattan-bar-clinches-top-placing-at-the-inaugural-asias-50-best-bars-2018/
  7. Lim, Gary. “The Bar Awards Singapore 2018 Results: The Best Bartenders and Bars in the Lion City”. City Nomads. August 20, 2019. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/the-bar-awards-singapore-2018-results-the-best-bartenders-and-bars-in-the-lion-city/
  8. Lim, Gary. “The Bar Awards Singapore 2018 Results: The Best Bartenders and Bars in the Lion City”. City Nomads. August 20, 2019. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/the-bar-awards-singapore-2018-results-the-best-bartenders-and-bars-in-the-lion-city/
  9. “Jay Khan of COA Hong Kong Crowned The Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia Bartender Invitational 2018”. Restaurant Pub & Bar Asia. July 27, 2018.  Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.rpb-asia.com/2018/07/27/jay-khan-of-coa-hong-kong-crowned-the-restaurant-pub-bar-asia-bartender-invitational-2018/  
  10. “Jay Khan of COA Hong Kong Crowned The Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia Bartender Invitational 2018”. Restaurant Pub & Bar Asia. July 27, 2018. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.rpb-asia.com/2018/07/27/jay-khan-of-coa-hong-kong-crowned-the-restaurant-pub-bar-asia-bartender-invitational-2018/  
  11. “Jay Khan of COA Hong Kong Crowned The Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia Bartender Invitational 2018”. Restaurant Pub & Bar Asia. July 27, 2018.  Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.rpb-asia.com/2018/07/27/jay-khan-of-coa-hong-kong-crowned-the-restaurant-pub-bar-asia-bartender-invitational-2018/  
  12. Goh, Daniel. “ Vijay Mudaliar and Native nail top accolades at The Bar Awards Singapore 2017”. Spirited Singapore. June 20, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.spiritedsingapore.com/2017/06/vijay-mudaliar-native-nail-top-accolades-bar-awards-singapore-2017/
  13. Kok, Melissa. “Bartender Vijay Mudaliar wins Diplomatico World Tournament Singapore Final”. The Straits Times. January 6, 2015. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/bartender-vijay-mudaliar-wins-diplomatico-world-tournament-singapore-final
  14. “Native cocktail Bar - Singapore,Foraging,Regional Produce, Southeast Asia”. Native. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://tribenative.com/
  15. Saini, Azimin. “Native: The New Singapore Cocktail Bar That Servesd Up Locally Foraged Ingredients”. Michelin Guide. 23 December, 2016. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://guide.michelin.com/sg/en/article/dining-out/native-new-singapore-cocktail-bar-foraging
  16. Ho, Victoria. “Yup, bartenders are putting ants in your cocktails”. Mashable. January 19, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://mashable.com/2017/01/19/ant-cocktail-singapore/
  17. “Vijay Mudaliar:Native (Singapore)”. Le Cocktail Connoisseur (blog). September 20, 2018. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://lecocktailconnoisseur.com/2018/09/20/vijay-mudaliar-native-singapore/
  18. Kuok, Meng Ru. “Faces Going Places”. The Business Times. December 20, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/lifestyle/feature/faces-going-places
  19. Ajith, Dinesh. “Bartenders in Singapore: We interview NATIVE’s Vijay Mudaliar on ant cocktails and urban foraging”. Honeycombers. April 3, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://thehoneycombers.com/singapore/bartenders-in-singapore-we-interview-natives-vijay-mudaliar-on-ant-cocktails-and-urban-foraging/
  20. “Bartender 4.0: World's 50 Best Bars' Mixologists Dish on Their Life and Tips.” Employment and Employability Institute, e2i. July 30, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://e2i.com.sg/Bartender4.0
  21. Chia, Nicholas. “NATIVE: Exotic Cocktails In Amoy Street Concocted With Ants & Other Foraged Ingredients From Around Asia”. SETHLUI.com. February 13, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://sethlui.com/native-cocktails-singapore/
  22. Yeo, Sonia. “Raising the bar for a greener cocktail scene”. Today. August 4, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/lifestyle/food/raising-bar-greener-cocktail-scene
  23. “Bartender 4.0: World's 50 Best Bars' Mixologists Dish on Their Life and Tips.” Employment and Employability Institute, e2i. July 30, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://e2i.com.sg/Bartender4.0
  24. Yeo, Sonia. “Raising the bar for a greener cocktail scene”. Today. August 4, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/lifestyle/food/raising-bar-greener-cocktail-scene
  25. Ho, Victoria. “Yup, bartenders are putting ants in your cocktails”. Mashable. January 19, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://mashable.com/2017/01/19/ant-cocktail-singapore/
  26. Seow, Emily. “Bar review: Native gets creative with regional ingredients and spirits in cocktails on Amoy Street, Singapore”. City Nomads. January 9, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/bar-review-native-gets-creative-with-regional-ingredients-and-spirits-in-cocktails-on-amoy-street-singapore/
  27. “Behind the recipe: Vijay Mudaliar’s The Peranakan”. Drinkmagazine.asia. June 20, 2018. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.drinkmagazine.asia/2018/06/20/behind-the-recipe-vijay-mudaliars-the-peranakan/
  28. “The Peranakan by Vijay Mudaliar”.  Drinkmagazine.asia. June 20, 2018. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://drink.love/2018/06/20/recipe-the-peranakan-by-vijay-mudaliar-2/
  29. “Native by Vijay Mudaliar: Saving the World One Drink at a Time”. Lulu’s Hungry (blog). May 15, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://lulushungry.com/2019/05/15/native-by-vijay-mudaliar-cocktails-singapore/
  30. “Breakfast: Translate English to Indonesian.” Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed on August 16 2019. Retrieved from:  https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-indonesian/breakfast
  31. Seow, Emily. “See the Ranked Results of the Bar Awards Singapore 2017 Winners!”. City Nomads. June 19, 2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/the-bar-awards-singapore-2017-results/
  32. Lim, Gary. “The Bar Awards Singapore 2018 Results: The Best Bartenders and Bars in the Lion City”. City Nomads. August 20, 2019. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/the-bar-awards-singapore-2018-results-the-best-bartenders-and-bars-in-the-lion-city/
  33. “Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019”. World’s 50 Best Bars. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/asia/list/?ist=1
  34. “The World’s 50 best Bars 2018”. World’s 50 Best Bars. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/fifty-best-bars-list-2018/?ist=11
  35. “Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018”. World’s 50 Best Bars. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/asia/2018/?ist=6
  36. Goh, Daniel. “ Vijay Mudaliar and Native nail top accolades at The Bar Awards Singapore 2017”. Spirited Singapore. June 20,2017. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.spiritedsingapore.com/2017/06/vijay-mudaliar-native-nail-top-accolades-bar-awards-singapore-2017/
  37. Lim, Gary. “The Bar Awards Singapore 2018 Results: The Best Bartenders and Bars in the Lion City”. City Nomads. August 20, 2019. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.citynomads.com/the-bar-awards-singapore-2018-results-the-best-bartenders-and-bars-in-the-lion-city/
  38. Price, Laura. “Vijay Mudaliar on Native’s Singaporean identity and creating cocktails with ants at #50BestTalks”. The World’s 50 Best. July 2, 2018. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.theworlds50best.com/blog/News/vijay-mudaliar-native-bar-singapore-identity-cocktails-foraging-50besttalks.html
  39. Price, Laura. “Vijay Mudaliar on Native’s Singaporean identity and creating cocktails with ants at #50BestTalks”. The World’s 50 Best. July 2, 2018. Accessed on 15 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.theworlds50best.com/blog/News/vijay-mudaliar-native-bar-singapore-identity-cocktails-foraging-50besttalks.html
  40. “Commemorating Singapore’s Bicentennial in the UK”. Singapore Tourism Board. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.visitsingapore.com/festivals-events-singapore/annual-highlights/uk-bicentennial/
  41. Tan, Rebecca Lynne. “Singapore Bicentennial event to be held in London’s financial district”. The Straits Times. May 29, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/singapore-bicentennial-event-to-be-held-in-londons-financial-district
  42. “Bartender 4.0: World's 50 Best Bars' Mixologists Dish on Their Life and Tips.” Employment and Employability Institute, e2i. July 30, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://e2i.com.sg/Bartender4.0
  43. Ashton, Chris. “The Singapore Bar Striving For Complete Sustainability”. The Upsider. February 12, 2019. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://theupsider.com.au/native-bar-singapore-sustainability/12226
  44. “Singapore Social”. Time Out Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.timeout.com/sydney/bars/singapore-social
  45. “Singapore Social Try Cocktails By Singapore’s Best Bars”. The Rooftop Sydney. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.therooftop.com.au/singapore-social-pop-up
  46. Goh, Daniel. “Vijay Mudaliar to fly Singapore’s flag at Margaret River Gourmet Escape”. September 8, 2017. Accessed on 16 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.spiritedsingapore.com/2017/09/vijay-mudaliar-fly-singapores-flag-margaret-river-gourmet-escape/