The evening begins with the clink of ice into old-fashioned glasses. Sultry sounds of jazzy vocals fill the room adding mood to the candlelit lounge. Men and women dressed to the nines lean into the bar and then swish away carrying stemmed glasses filled with the latest trend: craft cocktails. This is London in the roaring 1920s. A formative era of cocktail culture which is now being revisited by a luxe new generation of international bars and lounges such as Social Club at Hôtel des Arts Saigon, Vietnam’s premier 5-star, luxury boutique hotel.
The Roots and Revival of Cocktail Culture in London and Saigon
Across the ocean from Prohibition-era America where speakeasies and cocktail culture were born from the contraband need to get creative, London too had an awakening in the Art de Vivre. Women had experienced a new kind of freedom during the first world war, which was followed directly after by the first victory for British suffragettes - the right to vote for female property owners. Women and men pursued their newfound independence with jubilant (some might even say libertine) spirits that went down in the lore of cocktail history.
Bars filled with merrymakers celebrating peace with panache. American jazz music spilled across the pond and rang out in swanky drinking dens that were legal, but often frowned upon by more conservative generations of Londoners. The mischief was all part of the fun and glamour was turned up to the max with art deco stylings and glitzy attire worthy of the Great Gatsby himself. America had its speakeasies with secret passwords while England had a group of socialites known as The Bright Young People whose endless cocktail parties and famous exploits set the trend for a decade of frivolity and fun that the world has never forgotten.
Internationally, high-end bars still draw inspiration from this playful decade that caught the world’s imagination and created a newfound appetite for excellently crafted cocktails. Hôtel des Arts Saigon Social Club combines the moody atmosphere of a 1920s European lounge with epic sunset views and signature cocktails. Known throughout the city as having one of the best happy hours in Saigon, Social Club is the place to go as evening falls and the sunset brightens the Saigon skyline to relive the golden age of cocktail culture.
From Mixed Drinks to Mixology at Social Club Saigon
At some point during the cocktail renaissance that sprung up in the early 21st-century and continues to grow strong, certain bartenders gained a new name - mixologists. Whereas, in the past, bartenders were expected to know the classics and to be able to pour a quick G&T, the new guard behind the bar wanted more. Mixing drinks became a combination of science, know-how and reverence for top-shelf artisanal ingredients. Thus, the Art of Mixology was reborn.
Hôtel des Arts Saigon’s Social Club in District 1 enhances Saigon’s nightlife with the festive party mood of London’s Roaring ‘20s, while keeping things modern with trained mixologists ready to whip up some of the best cocktails in Saigon. During the American prohibition era adding sweet ingredients, juices and herbs to liqueur were a way to mask the intensity of bootleg, often homemade alcohols. Now, with more than 24 types of whiskey, cognac and single-malts on the menu, not to mention the gin, tequila, and vodka selections, Social Club Restaurant and Rooftop Bar is free to highlight the quality of their liquor with high-end additions.
New to the Art of Mixology? Take a spin into the trend with Social Club’s G&T list, which includes no fewer than 12 options. Small batch gins that are well-known to those who are passionate about the spirit are well represented in cocktails such as Monkey 47 served with a fresh berry and a twist of lime or Four Pillars Negroni edition served with orange bitters and orange peel. Gins that have long been known for their quality, such as Tanqueray, get an update with the addition of chamomile tea and grapefruit peel.
Beyond the classics, Social Club’s mixologists have also introduced innovative concept cocktails that combine the arts of mixology and fashion. Just as Coco Chanel was undoubtedly the queen of fashion in 1920s Paris, the French luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent is the pinnacle of chic in our age. Social Club’s collection of cocktails inspired by iconic YSL perfumes add flair to their menu.
Social Club Saigon’s Signature Craft Cocktails
These selections for Social Club’s list of high-end YSL cocktails will get you ready to party like it’s the 1920s. Don’t forget to ask your mixologist for the optional liqueur upgrades if you like things extra luxe.
Start off with Mon Paris, a perfume known for its delicate fruity notes and light florals. The fragrance is reimagined as a cocktail with Absolut Raspberry vodka, fresh lime, raspberries and a touch of Social Club’s house-made cinnamon syrup. The drink is topped off with Prosecco because who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle?
For those who like their drinks to pack a punch, try the heady Black Opium, which is transformed with Glenlivet 12Y, Martell VSOP, Chambord, Social Club cold brew coffee, and the aromatic Liquor 43, which is made with 43 different juices and herbs.
Jolie Doll will tickle your tastebuds with its sweet and salty flavours. Olmeca Tequila, fresh lime, pink pomelo syrup, and a touch of Cointreau are topped off with a salty smoked cream.
To truly indulge in the irreverent fun of the 1920s head to the moody Social Club to sample their world-class cocktails and nibble on their selection of gourmet food. Continue the evening of indulgence at the rooftop bar for the best view of Ho Chi Minh City’s sparkling skyline surrounded by Saigon’s own set of Bright Young People. For, after all, whether it is 1920 or 2019, good taste never goes out of fashion.
Image source: Social Club Saigon - Hôtel Des Arts Saigon