Singapore liquor control bill passed into law

If you’re trying to get a feel for an alcoholic beverage you aren’t too familiar with, the best introduction is a tasting flight. Being able to compare different types of whisky, wine, beer or anything else at the same time gives you insight into how different ingredients, production methods and environmental factors contribute to the final product. And it’s also a good excuse to drink three or four drinks at the same time. Here are seven establishments around Singapore who can get you educated and inebriated. The Auld Alliance – Whisky #02-02A Rendezvous Hotel Singapore Gallery, 9 Bras Basah Rd., 6337-2201. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am; Sun 5pm-midnight. Without exaggeration, The Auld Alliance is one of the best whisky bars anywhere in the world, so it’s fitting that they would be the people to teach you everything you need to know about whisky. There are over 30 routes you can take here. You can explore the four key regions of Scotland ($35), dive headfirst into Japanese whisky ($48) and take a world tour to see how whisk(e)y varies between Scotland, Japan, the United States and France ($35). If you’ve had your fair share of drams, their distillery vertical flights will show you how famed distilleries like Laphroaig ($50) have earned their reputation. The Beast — Bourbon 17 Jalan Klapa, 6295-0017. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 5pm-1am; Sun 10am-5pm. If you think real whiskey is spelled with an “e”, and you can perform a mean rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” to back up your preference, then The Beast is the place to be. They’re a southern restaurant and bar specialising in bourbon; American whiskey produced primarily in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. They have five different bourbon flights – introductory ($34), low rye ($34), high rye ($34), small batch ($36) and single barrel ($38) – which paint a complete picture of what the spirit is all about. Each consists of three ¾ ounce (about 22ml) pours. Tasting notes are provided, so you’ll be an expert in no time. Brewerkz – Beer #01-05/06 Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Rd., 6438-7438 (other outlets at Singapore Indoor Stadium, Dempsey and Orchard Parade Hotel). Open Mon-Thu and Sun noon-midnight; Fri-Sat and PH eve noon-1am. These days, most people have a pretty good understanding of beer styles, but a little revision never hurts. Brewerkz serves a sampler set of four 125ml glasses of beer for $14 and you can choose from anything that’s on tap. A flight to consider would be their Golden Ale, Hopback Ale, India Pale Ale and the soon-to-return XIPA, to see how different types of hops produce different flavours and how cask conditioning can alter the finished product. Café & Bar Gavroche – Wine 69 Tras St., 6225-4869. Open Tue-Fri noon-late; Sat 10:30am-late; Sun 10:30am-2pm. Ah wine, is there anything finer? When you think of tasting flights, you probably have an image of classy folk slurping, sloshing and spitting while writing dissertation-length notes on tannins. Jokes aside though, wine tasting isn’t as inaccessible as it might seem, especially at Café & Bar Gavroche. They have 11 different flights on offer, taking you through the world of French wine. There’s “Flying Business Regional” ($38) where you’ll try wines from five different regions (Sud-Ouest, Loire Valley, Alsace, Burgundy and Bordeaux), a “Ladies Tour” ($20) which consists of three wines (a rosé, an off-dry white and a light, fruity red) and an “Organic Tour” ($21) which lets you sample a trio of wines produced in an all-natural, pesticide-free manner. 50ml of each wine will be served. Hombre Cantina — Tequila and Mezcals 53 Boat Quay, 6438-6708. Open Mon-Sat noon-midnight. Cheap tequila shots will probably always be par for the course when it comes to Mexico’s national beverage, but an increasing number of people are gaining an appreciation for high-quality tequila and mezcals. Tequila, like champagne or cognac, is an appellation which can only be used for the spirit made from the blue agave plant in the area surrounding the city of Tequila. Tequila is in turn a type of mezcal, although mezcals today are made with a different variety of agave which is cooked in ovens to impart a strong smokiness. At Hombre Cantina, you can plot your own tasting journey through three or five tequilas and mezcals to discover how ageing and terroir lead to a whole spectrum of tastes and aromas. Pricing depends on your chosen labels. KU DÉ TA — Rum SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3, 1 Bayfront Ave., 6688-7688. Club Lounge open daily 11am-late. Rum’s recent rise in stature is understandable. It’s a drink that’s familiar yet exciting and always goes down smooth. While it’s produced and enjoyed around the world, some of the best rums come from the Caribbean and Latin America. KU DÉ TA’s recently introduced Aficionado Rum Nights, happening every Thursday from 6pm, will get you into the swing of things with their Classic Rum Flight ($80). The flight consists of full-size servings of Bacardi 8 Anos, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, El Dorado 15 Years and Plantation Panama. Between the four, you’ll gain a good understanding of how rum-styles vary between English-speaking, French-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries and islands. Rum is often enjoyed in cocktails, so naturally they also serve a Tasting Cocktail Flight ($38). Choose your base rum and you’ll get tasting portions of a Mai Tai, an El Presidente, an Old Fashioned and the base rum, neat. Sushi Mitsuya — Sake #01-01 60 Tras St., 6438-2608. Open Mon-Sat noon-3pm and 6-11pm. Anyone who’s dined at a Japanese restaurant probably has some familiarity with sake, but few really know much about it beyond the option to have it hot or cold. While it’s sometimes called “rice wine”, sake is in fact brewed, like a beer. There are many different grades ranging from table sake to the high-end Junmai Daiginjo and sake breweries run the gamut from industrial-scale operations to boutique and artisanal producers. To get some footing in what can be a challenging pursuit, Sushi Mitsuya offers sake tasting flights. Featured brands (and thus prices) change from time to time, and they recently served a selection of limited edition sakes from Japan’s smallest and most traditional breweries. An order consists of one carafe of each sake so you really get to know them well.

Singapore's Parliament on Friday passed a bill that will ban retail sales and public drinking from 10.30pm to 7am islandwide into law. The law is expected to take effect in April.

"This bill is timely, long overdue and... will bring relief to residents in various localities who have been enduring disorder and disturbances arising from irresponsible liquor consumption in their neighbourhoods," said Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran, who rounded up the parliamentary debate on the bill on Friday afternoon.

In the debate, MPs expressed concerns that reflected the divisive nature of public response to it.

Opposition Workers' Party MPs Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim asked if the terms of the legislation were too far-reaching, suggesting it may be better to allow takeaway sales to continue after-hours. Non-constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong also suggested relaxing restrictions on areas located further from residential areas like parks and beaches with public barbecue pits.

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said many netizens found the ban "regressive" for a mature society.

"Singaporeans do not have a drinking problem," he said. "To deal with (a) minority who create trouble, the bill is taking pre-emptive measures seven steps upstream," he added.

Concerns about foreign worker dorms addressed

MPs like Hri Kumar Nair, Foo Mee Har, Yee Jenn Jong, Lina Chiam and Lee Bee Wah said the bill unfairly targets foreign workers in its definition of foreign worker dormitories as a public space. Addressing their concerns, Iswaran said the private quarters and beer gardens of the dorms will not be covered by the new law.

Instead, the definition of foreign worker dormitories as public spaces was what he deemed a "technical" one in light of the recently-passed Foreign Worker Dormitories Bill.

"The amendment does not turn dormitories into public places, neither does it forbid workers from consuming liquor within the foreign worker dormitories. Workers can continue to drink in their private quarters according to whatever rules they have in their dorms," he said. "It will not unduly constrain foreign workers in the dorms."

Mere possession of liquor is not an offence, he added, responding to concerns raised by those who were concerned about the additional police powers given in the new law, which allow arrests without warrant.

"It is not our intent to restrict people from enjoying liquor per se, but to encourage personal responsibility and considerate behaviour," said Iswaran. "Police will focus their enforcement on areas where there are public disorder and disamenities associated with the consumption of liquor and take even-handed action. It is certainly not the intent of this bill to seek out every person who's consuming liquor peacefully in a remote place... Should the police encounter such circumstances, they will assess each situation very carefully and will not resort to issue penalties, whether it's fines or arrests, in the first instance."

Read more about the details of the new Liquor Control law here.