Last Updated: January 7, 2015
A fairly recent addition to the inner city’s fringe, L’Aiglon, is a bar that might seem like another unassuming bar blended along Neil Street, until you look past the casual courtyard and step into the intimately decorated shophouse within.
Filled with specially imported fittings and bespoke furniture pieces from France, custom-made to bring a feeling of luxe and excited anticipation not knowing what to expect, read on to find out what we discovered within.
The first thing that awes you is the fine eclectic interior, which is full of character and a story to tell. Beckoning as an extension of one’s living room, the plush velvet, leathers and deep maroon shade offsets the brightness of a well-stocked bar. The ambience is careful curated and designed by its owner, Pierre-Emmanuel Plassart, who is known as the nomad-emperor of L’Aiglon.
There are 3 distinct spaces in L’Aiglon: an outdoor terrace, an exclusive private room and the lounge. Pierre-Emmanuel Plassart’s flair for designing L’Aiglon came from a pedigree of artists and entrepreneurs within the family.
Ask for the private room if you are having at least 2 bottles of alcohol or spending $500 and above- it’s a hideout within the bar to entertain your friends, trade secrets and relax in private. They give a generous 3 months of bottle storage with complimentary mixers to ensure you enjoy your drink in leisure, with pleasure.
Housing a fine selection of liquors on display, particularly the large collection of exotic Gins and Rums (38 types of Gin and 20 odd types of Rum) will keep Gin fans very happy, akin to chocolate fans visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the first time- a rediscovery of their favourite poison with a hangout that seeks to refine and redefine their palate to multiple levels.
There is even a selection of flavoured bitters, seek to please even those with a non-conventional palate or looking for a twist in their usual drink.
The cocktails are an infusion of the talented bartenders with the charming heritage of the owner’s French background, as well as their location on 69 Neil Road. I first noticed their attention to details – naming their first cocktail a French 69 which corresponds to their unit number. Is it a coincidence or a cheeky sublimal message in play?
L’Aiglon brings about a refreshing breath of fresh air with its infusion of various Asian elements not commonly seen in conventional bars, giving me many good reasons to visit and linger.
We started off with their signature cocktail, Asian Sensation Kettle ($90 serves for 5) which comes in a little pot. We requested for a single portion though.
Familiar fragrance of Chrysanthemum and a hint of Elderflower served in a generous amount of Vodka, Pierre later informed me that they use a ‘gentlemen’s pour’ of 45ml per shot of alcohol for their cocktail. This is a place that justifies paying for the price tag of the cocktail.
I like my drink decently strong as the first impression counts while the satisfaction is immediate. Those who know me understand that I stopped visiting any drinking hole that serves weak cocktail (especially 1-for-1 cocktail promotions that serve watered down drinks).
Screaming Tomato ($22). Vodka, French cherry tomatoes, lemon Juice, herbs, black pepper. A reinvention of the classic Bloody Mary, the French cherry tomatoes are flamed to give a smokey robust flavour which pairs well with the freshly crushed black pepper. Very intense, sweet and smooth.
Wolf Peach’s Illusion ($24). Gin, Lychee liqueur, fresh lemon juice, Basil Syrup, French Cherry Tomatoes, Pineapples. An award winning cocktail, this is a very sweet, refreshing drink with multiple layers to it coming from a hint of basil and the acidity of pineapples.
Bitter Sweet Crescendo ($24). Cask Strength Bourbon, Amaro Abano, Amargo Bitters. This is a drink that is slowly stirred to control the ice dilution, and comes out strong as a bull.
L’Aiglon’s team of dapper bartenders smarty dressed in their vest and tie, are not just a bunch of pretty boys who only make classic cocktails. Louis Tan, the Bar Manager, wasn’t in on the day we visited, but I had a chat with one of bartender to size him up. I gave him a little challenge to make me a bespoke whisky based cocktail for a seasoned whisky drinker.
He asked me a few questions to probe my preference and proceeded to confidently conjure a well-balanced whisky cocktail that hit the spot, and explained why he chose a particular whisky, how he balanced it with a smoked orange peel to give a little zest, and with flairy showmanship to boot.
He certainly held up well on his own, peppered with the occasional commentary background information, made it very engaging to understand the drink he is making for me.
I am quite convinced that L’Aiglon’s team of bartenders are up to task even when the Bar Manager is not around. I can certainly look forward to trying more new creations from Louis Tan, one of the 2014 finalist in the Diago World Class Bartender competition.
A bar whose cocktail that I can trust when I am sober, is a bar I can trust when I am drunk
Crab Cakes with Curry Salsa and Granny Smith ($14). A crisp exterior with a mix of curry flavours and Tabasco, undercut with sweetness of onions and green apples.
Gent’s Chicken Samosa ($12).
The bar snacks are pretty decent and easily shared amongst friends.
I can easily envisage L’Aiglon to be very popular when the ‘in’ crowd discovers this Gentlemen’s hideout. It may not be a place for everybody (especially the beer guzzler or binge boozers), but you can expect their bartenders to be able to hold a decent conversation while conjuring up thoughtful cocktails, be it re-invented classics or their own signature creations.
Perfect for the sophisticated and discerning crowd, you’ll want to enjoy the elegant ambience and savour cocktails in style. It is a justifiable price to pay for the privilege to be in such refined company.
Do try the exclusively imported house Champagne Laburyere ($110) from Domaine Jacques Prieur as well.
Expected Damage: $22-25 per cocktail