"We don’t give a flying f*&^ about classic recipes," he said matter-of-factly.
The leader of the nine-month-old (set up on March 2013) cocktail bar is adamant in pressing the point that his establishment is different from the rest of the speakeasy-type cocktail bars that are popping up all over the city.
"What makes the bar stand out is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. The other thing will be that we are very disrespectful to tradition," George added.
But make no mistake, beneath that defiant stance, the cocktails created by George who cut his teeth in places like Daybed Bar and The Cufflink Club are still steeped in tradition.
Take, for example, the Mrs Grundy ($18) – Spiffy Dapper’s twist to the Bloody Mary. Made with its house-infused cherry tomato vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Colombian habanero mustard sauce and finished off with sea salt, black pepper and Nocellara olives, the drink makes the perfect antidote for a hangover.
Or the Drugstore Cowboy ($18), a take on the Straits Sling but with cinnamon-infused gin as well as other surprises. The Bellbottom Bimbo ($18) is a sailor-inspired boozy punch based on the Zombie cocktail.
"Although our drinks are based on the classics, we don’t usually follow the recipes to a T. We take what we need and discard the rest. I guess that’s why Spiffy is a different kind of bar," George explained.
Indeed, from the way the cocktails are made at the Spiffy Dapper, to the way George and his bartenders are dressed, the bar is the antithesis of what a cocktail bar should be and look like.
Only its name harks back to the Prohibition-era speakeasy; while George's peers are usually togged up in the time-honoured uniforms of bartenders (shirts, vests, suspenders, etc), George and his staff give the proverbial middle finger to the establishment and got comfortable in their "kopitiam swag" – t-shirts, bermudas and flip-flops; or anything "comfy" for that matter.
If there is one definitive spirit that everyone should have in the home bar, George says it would have to be a good bottle of bourbon.
"If your wallet allows it, get a Maker’s Mark," George recommended, "as it is one of the most versatile bourbons out there. With smooth mellow taste as well as it sweet oak and raisin aroma, you can use it for pretty much anything; either a whiskey sour, an Old Fashioned or even straight up."
For an easy cocktail to make at home, George shares his Rum Sour recipe (in video and below):
45ml of white rum
25ml lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
1. In a shaker, shake all ingredients with ice.
2. Strain liquid into ice-filled cocktail glass.
3. Spritz with lemon peel by squeezing the peel immediatle above the cocktail.
The Spiffy Dapper | Address: 61 Boay Quay | Tel: 82339810 | Opening hours: 6pm-midnight (Mon-Thu), 5pm-2am (Fri), 8pm-2am (Sat)