Sunday, November 17, 2013

Niner Ichi Nana Coctail Bar 917

Niner Ichi Nana


The people working at the new Globe Tower in The Fort are blessed people, indeed. At the ground floor of the 28-storey building is a bar, called Niner Ichi Nana (which means 917, a Globe number), directly connected to the airport-like office (not NAIA, more like Zurich).  And it isn’t the typical bar serving watered down drinks and blasting music at nerve-wracking decibels. It’s the kind that serves duck fat fries and cocktails with popcorn and bacon infusions.  They have craft cocktails, at your behest. Fancy, yes. Albeit, far from being pretentious or snooty.
Welcome to Niner Ichi Nana
Beside Niner Ichi Nana is The Hungry Hound, a gastro pub that mixes your typical comfort food and European fare in their menu.  Both places are by Chef Rob Pengson (of The Goose Station) and young entrepreneur Erwan Heussaff. For lunch or dinner, head to Hungry Hound. Then, scoot over to Niner Ichi Nana to cap your meal with unique cocktails that are sure to be conversation starters.
With subdued lighting at night and natural lighting by day, the place gives a welcoming vibe made more cozy by rustic details and comfortable leather seats. Sit by the bar to watch the bartenders craft your own concoction; strike a conversation, and they will gladly indulge.   
"I look at cocktails, like they’re food," Erwan shares, pertaining to their bar’s ability to create any drink you want. “It’s about looking at an ingredient and saying to it, ‘I can make you into a cocktail.’”
Erwan Heussaff crafting bespoke cocktails
Niner Ichi Nana is a full bar that uses fruits a lot. They obviously have fun with cocktails, serving daily infusions like Fig, Kiwi, Marshmallow, Belvedere and Popcorn, Butterscotch, Whisky. 
Daily Infusions
The Blackstar (P380) smells strongly of anise because it has sambucca. Mixed with grapefruit, lime, Belvedere and syrup, the result is a cloudy concoction that is equal parts heady and refreshing.
The Dusk Melody (P430/P590) is a pretty sight, with a sliced passion fruit resting atop crushed ice. A mix of scotch, elderflower, egg white, syrup, starfruit, mint and lemon, it has the least kick amongst the drinks. Simply perfect for those who want the taste of summer vacation in their mouth.
Dusk Melody
The Dark and Stormy (P340/P690) is a classic mix of rum, galangal (a relative of ginger), ginger beer and lemon juice. It is an easy choice, especially for those who intend to pop in for conversations and cocktails, because one will last you through the night. Nah, make that two, just because you won’t be able to help yourself.
Dark and Stormy
The Eurasia (P370/P480) is my favourite, which is the spiciest drink I’ve tried, so far. The zing just glides down your throat like silk, almost like a cure-all, if not a pick-me-upper. Combined with elderflower, it is sweet and aromatic, but still refreshing due to the cucumber and fresh lemon juice. If you like your whiskey with a punch and a kick, this is a must-try. 
Bar chow at Niner Ichi Nana is satisfyingly varied—they don’t serve grease-laden snacks typical in most pubs.
It’s safe to say that the Duck Fat Fries (P288) is a favourite. I look at other tables and three out of four, I see a platter of the delicious-smelling fries being shared by a group. Cooked in duck fat and flavoured with pimenton dulce, rosemary, garlic, and parmesan, these fries are topnotch—crisp on the outside, and bursting with flavour. These are meant to be shared, of course, because you’ll want to be able to visit and enjoy this again the next time around. Also available at Hungry Hound, these fries are fast approaching iconic bar snack status.
Duck Fat Fries
Comfort food can also be found at Niner’s menu, and they have excellent tomato soup, for starters. Their Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese, Crostini, Cherry Tomato & Basil (P290) is a hearty treat, best enjoyed on a rainy day or when you’re feeling particularly glum. The play of fresh tomatoes and cream is deliciously familiar, it’s hard not to wipe every drop with a piece of goat cheese and crostini.
Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese, Crostini, Cherry Tomato & Basil
Called the everyman’s caviar, I was excited to try their Herring & Toast (P350). I expected herring marinated in vinegar and a smidge of Dijon mustard. However, Niner’s version has honey mustard, which envelopes the herring pieces like sauce. On top is a small serving of horseradish & beetroot tzatziki, orange zest and arugula. I like my herring uncomplicated and slightly more acidic, so this probably more suited for those who like creamy fish on their toast.
Herring & Toast
Meat lovers aren’t forgotten at Niner. The Fried Chicken Offals (P330) are golden brown crispy skin and chopped pieces of liver served with croutons, shallot confit, port jus and apple slaw. The browned chunks of liver are packed with flavour, overpowering the fried chicken skin, which could use something acidic like flavoured vinegar for a dipping sauce. Because everything is fried to a crisp, this dish is a direct assault to your self-control and diet.
Fried Chicken Offals
There’s the Pork Plate Confit (P310), which are thin slices of pork with bacon jam, spiced carrot puree, apple slaw and port jus. I like this a lot because the smidge of fat lining the crispy pork skin is just the right amount to nestle the alcohol in your belly. The apple slaw and carrot puree are perfect in balancing all the fattiness.
Pork Plate Confit
Seductive and unadulterated—words that best describe Niner Ichi Nana, which strays from convention and purely exudes fun. Drop by one time, release inhibitions and ignore pre-conceived notions, and you just might find yourself not wanting to leave.
Establishment Info

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