The Library: Cocktails Made With Chinese Herbs That Not Only Taste Good, But Are Good For You

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We all have that one friend who complains about how detrimental alcohol is, and how we should give up drinking if we want to live a long and healthy life.

In response to that, I’ll ask “have you ever tried the new drinks at The Library?”.  The drinks are a collaboration between The Library and Eu Yan Sang; and five cocktails were created with a mixture of Chinese herbs such as goji berries, ginseng, hawthorn and more.

The Library is a speakeasy bar that originated from Prohibition when alcohol was banned. To enter, you’ll need to have the secret password, but The Library has relaxed these rules a bit — if you don’t have the password, simply dance, sing a song or recite a joke to be allowed entry.

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Once you enter, you’ll notice the dimly lit interior, and the steampunk theme that the bar seems to be modeled after. I was particularly taken by the bar countertop; with sheets of copper riveted to each other, it’s pretty cool. But we’re not here to appreciate interior design, we’re here for the cocktails!

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Starting off with the Thousand Eyes Cobbler ($24), I immediately noticed the unique design of the drink before I even tried it. Goji berries contained in a hollow shell atop the liquid, I couldn’t resist giving it a shake.

The drink however, is one that everybody will like even if they don’t enjoy goji berries. The most prominent taste is that of passionfruit, sweet with a slight tang. There is also a bit of spice from the angostura bitters, and finally the goji berries kick in as a light aftertaste, present but not overwhelming.

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Rice & Shine ($24) might be one of my favourite cocktails from the collaboration, simply due to the complexity of the drink. Starting off with flavour from the ginger, it gives way to the sourness from the rice vinegar and lime before the hints of ginseng and chrysanthemum show up amidst the taste of gin.

The presentation of the cocktail is also fun and quirky; it comes in a small bottle that’s seated on a bed of rice grains, sealed in a ziplock bag, in a nod to the rice vinegar that’s present in the drink.

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Midway through, I decided that I should order some food to stave off the effects of the alcohol.  The Kimchi Hot Dog ($9) is a fluffy bun coupled with the sausage, topped off with a generous amount of seaweed and kimchi, I thoroughly enjoyed this. The kimchi wasn’t as spicy as I would like, but the crunch and heat that it provided the dish with was good.

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Continuing on with the cocktails, Sun Of Fuji ($23) came in a small white container that prevented me from really seeing much, although I did enjoy the hawthorn flake garnish; it reminded me of my favourite childhood snacks.

The cocktail was silky thanks to the tofu that was blended in, and the notes of lychee and rose are prominent at the start while the hawthorn infused rum kicks in at the end. I really enjoyed the mouthfeel that this drink had, the luxuriousness and smoothness certainly helped to disguise the strength of this cocktail.

Taking a break from the five cocktails, I requested the head bartender, Adam Bursik, to recommend a drink from the normal menu, and he didn’t disappoint with Deep in Forest ($24). This cocktail is visually stunning, with a takeaway drink cover fitted over the glass, and mushrooms and sprigs of rosemary on top which emanates a woody, herbal scent every time you take a sip.

The gin taste is prominent here, with Adam using gin that has been double infused with juniper. I’m a big fan of gin, so this drink is right up my alley. With slight hints of lemon and pickled mint, the entire flavour profile of this drink is generally earthy and definitely on the strong side.

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We finished the night off with the last two cocktails, Hypnotique ($24) and Arial Italic Black ($24). Hypnotique is another visually appealing drink, sitting on top of a wooden case containing dry ice that the bartender will pour rose water to create a delicate smelling smoke.

Hypnotique was foamy and light with a predominantly sour taste from the lemon, but as you sip, you’ll catch whiffs of the delicate rose fragrance again, this time from the dried rose petal bits that is used to garnish the drink.

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Arial Italic Black is another spirit forward drink made with TCM Library Vermouth and coffee-infused cognac that results in a strong coffee taste lasting through the entire cocktail, and I enjoyed the presentation as well. A book, quill, spectacles along with the drink? Perfect Instagram photos for all the writers and book lovers out there.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the cocktails simply because I never really enjoyed herbs before, but all five of the cocktails were delicious, and Adam Bursik worked closely with a Chinese physician to ensure that the cocktails not only tasted great, but are good for your body as well.

So go ahead and imbibe in these cocktails with the knowledge that your drinks are a bit healthier thanks to the addition of these Chinese herbs!

Expected damage: $24 – $50 per pax

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The Library: 47-49 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089151 | Tel: +65 62218338 | Facebook