Setting The Home Bar: Q&A With Gabriel Carlos of Manhattan and Ethan Leslie Leong of Maison Ikkoku

So far, we’ve gotten some detailed input into what one might need to stock their home bar with, along with a few key tips on making some classic cocktails. From the first two installments of our home bar series, it’s clear that every bartender has their own tricks up their sleeve.

As our third installment of the series, we’ve spoken to two experienced bartenders — Gabriel Carlos, Assistant Bar Manager of Manhattan Bar Singapore, and Ethan Leslie Leong, Chief Executive Officer of Maison Ikkoku and SLING Singapore.

Tucked away in the Regent Hotel, Manhattan is a grand hotel bar that almost seems a tad out of place in this city — evoking the glamour of old New York City in combination with the modern crowd, stepping into the bar is almost like stepping into a scene from a 1920s Broadway film. With a menu that pays homage to classic American films, it certainly stays true to its name.

On the other hand, Maison Ikkoku, while known for its reputable Japanese fare and Omakase has a cocktail menu that’s quite literally non-existent. Those familiar with the award-winning cocktail bar may be aware that guests are served only bespoke cocktails — custom cocktails without any permanent menu. It may seem daunting to newcomers, but having a surprise cocktail made according to what you may be feeling that day means there’s always a chance of something new.

With years of experience between them, both Gabriel and Ethan have provided us with their own tips and tricks, along with a couple of handy recipes for beginners.

The Basics


Gabriel: “A jigger, a citrus squeezer and a Three-Piece Shaker so you don’t need extra tools like a cocktail strainer.”

Ethan: “A Two-Piece Boston Shaker with a compatible strainer, a fine strainer, a bar spoon, a jigger or any measuring cup that can measure (ml) or (oz)”.


Gabriel: “Spirits are up to personal preference. I opt for Michter’s bourbon, but Maker’s Mark is also very accessible. My girlfriend likes gin so we have some Roku around the house at all times. Have Campari and a sweet vermouth like Mancino around since they combine very well for classic cocktails like Boulevardiers and Negronis.”

Ethan: “Gin, vodka, a nice, aged dark rum, any good whisky or cognac you like,  and tequila or mezcal is a bonus.”

L-R: Jon YongFook Cockle, Ethan Leslie Leong and their creation, the Kampong Sour

Ethan’s Beginner Cocktail Suggestions

For a start, Ethan suggests a Kampong Sour — a drink designed to be made at home that helped him eventually be crowned as the Champion of Bacardi Singapore Cocktail Search in 2012.

Kampong Sour Recipe

Ingredients: 6 parts Calamansi Juice, 1 part Bacardi White, ½ part Honey or White Sugar

1. Pour all ingredients in a Tall or Rock Glass, dissolve fully.
2. Top up with crushed ice, stir well, and toast!

Another drink he recommends is a Bitter Chocolate Martini — looking at this recipe now, it’s sure to be a hit amongst any chocolate fans.

Bitter Chocolate Martini Recipe

Ingredients: 45ml Dark Chocolate Liqueur, 45ml Vodka 

1. Shake with ice and strain into Chilled Martini Glass
2. Shave some Dark Chocolate flakes on top and serve.

Tip: Chocolate rim it for best results.

Manhattan Bar’s Negroni ($24)

Gabriel’s Beginner Cocktail Suggestions

Gabriel suggests a Negroni — a simple, 3-ingredient cocktail that would be hard to mess up.

Simple Negroni Recipe

Ingredients: Equal parts Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth.

1. Stir all the ingredients on ice.
2. Finish with an orange peel and serve.

Tip: Substituting the gin with Bourbon gets you a Boulevardier.

Another suggestion he recommends is a simple gin and tonic, that can be customised a little with additional ingredients.

“A simple Gin and Tonic never fails to impress. The rule of thumb is 1 part gin and 2 parts tonic. Fashion it with different kinds of citrus, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc) or spices (pepper, cinnamon, star anise, etc.)”

SLING’s 1819 SLING ($25)

What Does Ethan Drink At Home?

“A 1819 SLING, a cocktail that is inspired by the founding year of Singapore. Just like its name, this drink is old and tastes classic, like a very, very dry version of our Singapore Sling.”

What About Gabriel?

“I usually make a Highball for myself whenever I am drinking at home.”

A Few Things To Keep In Mind While Bartending At Home

Gabriel: “If you are doing it for yourself, then make drinks you love to drink. If you love cola in your whiskey, go ahead and pour that cola in. Personal enjoyment is everything and no one should dictate any hard rules! My recommendation is to keep on trying different flavours. Explore and don’t be afraid to try new things.”

Ethan: “Taste the drinks before serving — it’s like quality assurance. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re busy, and tends to forget to add certain ingredients. And don’t break the glasses! LOL!”

Maison Ikkoku’s Bespoke Cocktail In A Bottle ($20)

Maison Ikkoku and SLING are both currently open for takeaway and delivery, for both food and beverages. A must-try is Maison Ikkoku’s Bespoke Cocktail In A Bottle ($20) — all you have to do is select your spirit base, what flavour style you’re going for and any additional info you may want your bartender to know! Also available are a variety of Singapore SLINGS, including the 1819 Sling ($25).


Manhattan Bar’s Bottled Manhattan Cocktail ($24)

Manhattan Bar is also open for takeaway and delivery, with all Manhattan cocktails available in 100ml bottles at $24 each. Also available is the bar menu, including the Rebellion Burger ($22).

For more information on Manhattan Bar, click here.

For more information on Maison Ikkoku and SLING, click here.

Check our first and second installments of the series with Andrew Loudon and Ronan Keilthy.