The only place you need to be if you’re looking for the third dimension to drinking.
In 2018, we are surrounded by choices when it comes to drinking. Picking a drink is no longer a no-brainer because there are a multitude of options to choose from. Straight up, on ice, in a cocktail. But hold on. Remember the 18thAmendment? Of course you don’t. But what if that was happening today? Step into The Other Room to get transported in time to the days of the Prohibition. Founder and Master Blender Dario Knox has re-imagined what it must have been like to live through what we can only imagine to be a very difficult time for anybody who loved the hooch. We know we would have definitely struggled.
But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The eighteenth amendment called for tremendous show of creativity from the community that loved to drink as well as those whose business it was to make people drink. Bathtub gins, dark rooms serving liquor in the shadows, homemade concoctions that could send the world spinning – all noteworthy efforts in keeping the drinking culture of the time alive. As is with any great movement, this too brought with it, a whole range of ingenious spirit and cocktail innovations.
Dario Knox’s The Other Room is somewhat of an homage to the ingenuity of this era, but with an added Knox twist. The Other Room pioneered a new way of drinking – one that is packed with creativity and mischief, true Prohibition style. Typically, after a spirit leaves the distillery, it is ready to be consumed either straight up or in a cocktail. At The Other Room however, these spirits go through a process of double maturation or cask finishing, where the liquid rests inside casks that may have previously stored liquor such as wine, sherry, port, madeira, or the likes. The introduction of the spirit in these casks not only changes the flavour profile of the spirit but further interaction between the cask and the spirit adds a whole new range of notes to the next spirit that goes into the cask. The whole process is fascinating and does wonderful things to the drink with ever changing and developing notes – it’s almost like a dance for the taste buds.
It goes without saying that when these very spirits go into the cocktails, magic happens. The Other Room’s extensive cocktail menu, better known as the “Timeline Menu” is a tribute to the old classics from the beginning of the 1500’s to date. This is an extensive 45 page menu which has been widely praised and appreciated the world over.
Dario Knox is an innovator who won’t stop. With The Other Room as his playground to create a brand-new concept, Knox has already carved a milestone in the international cocktail & bar scene. Starting off as an interpreter and translator, Knox made a decision to solely focus on building a career in bartending when he joined the Eclipse Bar in the W Hotel, Barcelona. Things shaped up pretty quickly from there on. Knox first made it to the Spanish National Finals of the World Class Cocktail Competition in Madrid, Spain. He then won the top spot at the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition in Spain in 2011, before flying off to Puerto Rico to represent Spain in the World Finals in February 2012.In 2011, Knox came to Singapore to open one of the very first cocktail programmes in the city. Since then he has been known as one of the few people who pioneered the Singapore Cocktail scene, mentoring and growing local talent over a span of 6 years and putting Singapore on the global bar and cocktail map.
We caught up with Dario and picked his brain a little about the how and why of The Other Room.
What sparked the concept of cask finishing the spirits?
Nowadays everyone tries to move forward without paying the right attention and respect to the past. The only way to evolve is only through deep understanding about what came before. Our approach is to elevate one of the very first techniques that mankind used to improve the taste of any alcoholic liquid, the maturation in cask, and bring it to a very elegant and controlled level, Cask Finishing.
What were the early challenges with implementing a brand new and unheard-of concept like this?
Basics of bio-chemistry, research, study, development. A whole new world from what we are used to. And no one to call to ask for advice.
Did you have much trouble getting buy ins for the idea?
Not really. A crazy idea requires crazy people to believe in. And I’m lucky we have all been crazy enough and the results are astonishing. With passion and a great idea and dedication, there’s no limit.
How did you navigate the challenge of introducing guests/consumers to the idea and what was the response like?
There wasn’t a challenge. Once you try them, the products speak for themselves.
Any reason you picked Singapore for this over any other city/country?
Only a few other cities in the world would be ready for this. And Singapore was the perfect starting point.
What has been your biggest learning/insight over the years through The Other Room?
That you must be crazy if you want to do something like this as it took me 16 months prior opening date to prepare all our spirits as everything goes through the process of finishing.
When in Singapore, get a drink at The Other Room. Details here.
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