Monday, May 27, 2024

Singapore’s Analogue Created a Future-Proof Mezcal Margarita

It’s not easy operating a hospitality business as radical as Singapore’s Analogue. In an effort to incorporate sustainability into its practice, the bar executes a completely vegan food and beverage program, conducts constant assessments of its own carbon footprint and has eradicated single-use plastics in-venue. To those who’ve become jaded to the term “sustainable” in the bar industry, especially as a result of corporate greenwashing, the concept may seem like a pipe dream. But at Analogue, environmental considerations are literally built into the bar.

The undulating, wavelike, 3D-printed bartop is made with over 1,600 kilograms of upcycled plastic, for example, and the surrounding tables are made from mycelium (a form of fungus); the fixtures serve as physical manifestations of the bar’s effort to be more holistically sustainable.

“‘Analogue’ basically means a thing or person comparable to another,” says co-owner Vijay Mudaliar. “When deciding which direction to take the bar in, we explored the current food systems and decided that change needed to happen, specifically as it relates to overfarming, the use of materials and accessibility in bars.” Mudaliar strives to make Analogue inclusive in many ways, such as by offering an entire nonalcoholic menu as well as designing the bar top to be lower on one side, more readily accommodating wheelchair access. 

The bar’s cocktails explore “future ingredients,” or “crops that were resilient to heat and could grow well in [it],” says Mudaliar, who sees these ingredients—like algae, fungi and succulents—as key to sustaining us in a warming climate. The latter category is central to one of the bar’s most representative drinks, the Cactus. “The Cactus is about how we can make these ingredients palatable or, better yet, tasty.”

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Because agave is a part of the succulent family, the cocktail is based on Código’s vegetal mezcal. The base is combined with other succulents and cactus-related ingredients, including the juices of prickly pear, pink dragon fruit and aloe vera, which get clarified in a centrifuge. “Prickly pear and pink dragon fruit bring that juicy, tangy flavor profile to the cocktail, while aloe vera brings a lovely textural profile to the drink,” says Mudaliar.

To lift the subtleties of each clarified juice, Analogue adds a dose of 10 percent acid solution made with a blend of tartaric and citric acid powders and water. This approach is typical at Mudaliar’s venues, which usually steer away from fresh citrus—aside from local fruits such as yuzu—to opt for alternative (and less wasteful) forms of acidity to balance drinks. Rounding out the invigorating mixture, the Cactus is injected with a pasilla chile reduction that’s made from de-seeded peppers, xylitol (a natural sugar alcohol found in plants) and water, adding a warming spice and structure to the cocktail.

These components are then shaken and double-strained up into a coupe before being garnished with food-grade lime oil, which boosts the aromatic profile of the cocktail. Finally, a Tajín rim brings an added layer of spice and texture. “The drink itself is very well-balanced and with a clean finish,” says Mudaliar. “And the Tajín really helps accentuate the flavor profile with the right amount of salt and spice.”

It’s no secret that striving for sustainability is no perfect science in an industry that’s inherently a luxury, but Analogue’s approach, exemplified everywhere from the bar top to the liquid in the glass, should serve as a model. With thoughtful drinks like the Cactus, Mudaliar is not only able to source ingredients and serve cocktails more responsibly, but he’s also able to raise awareness about the importance of developing drinks with the future in mind, through conversations with both staff and guests. “As a community, we need to start talking about and researching various future foods and crops that we will need to consume in the future,” says Mudaliar. “Our passion is at the heart of our work.”

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