Crypto cravings: How Singapore’s F&B scene is experimenting with NFTs, Lifestyle News
Generative pizza art. Blockchain burratas. A seafood restaurant open only to NFT holders. From fine dining to fast food, the NFT craze has proven itself in the F&B world over the past year. What at first seemed like a tech craze turned into a movement poised to shake up many industries – and Singaporean brands were quick to follow suit.
Even if you’ve been living under a rock, it’s unlikely you’ve escaped NFTs (or non-fungible tokens). At their core, they are crypto assets on the blockchain with unique digital signatures, making it impossible to replicate one NFT or directly exchange it with another.
Most NFTs today represent ownership of an asset in the virtual realm – digital art, in-game items, even revenue. But it’s also possible to mint NFTs tied to real-world objects, in which the token acts as a digital “receipt” of ownership and authenticity.
The fun really begins when food and drink come into play. There is no doubt that eating and drinking are irreducibly physical pleasures – which makes it strange to think of F&B NFTs.
A handful of local brands, however, use NFTs to spice up the epicurean experience, tapping into their exclusivity and artistic potential. From whiskey to ice cream, here’s a look at F&B brands innovating on NFTs in Singapore.
Savor whiskey phygitally with Mighty Cask
The world of whiskey has seen a wave of NFTs over the past few months, and the latest in blockchain is Powerful barrel. A local collaboration between whiskey bar The Chambers by Cask and local collectibles studio Mighty Jaxx, Mighty Cask’s debut collection is a trio of limited-edition single malts: a 20-year-old Caperdonich, a Glen Keith 22 years old and a Glen Grant, 23 years old.
Retailing for an introductory price of $4,888, the whiskey set comes in uniquely sculpted bottles inspired by the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Each striking collectible is inspired by one of three legendary heroes – Guan Yu, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei – capturing their characters in a stylized battle stance. Only 330 sets are currently available for sale, and we’re told they’re growing rapidly.
So where do NFTs come from? People who purchase a set can continue crafting NFT versions of each bottle design on the Mighty Jaxx mobile app. At this time, these NFTs cannot be transferred beyond the app – although you can capture them for posting on your social media if you wish. The first 138 NFT holders will also be able to grab a miniature set from the Mighty Cask Collection for $188.
NFTs made waves in whiskey – last October Scottish giant Glenfiddich spear a series of 15 NFTs, each representing ownership of an ultra-rare 46-year-old single malt. Aged in a cask of Armagnac, this luxury Scotch snapped up in seconds at $18,000 a bottle. In the process, The Dalmore digitized and sold its Decades Collection No. 4 as an NFT with an exorbitant price of 137,700 USD.
Notably, these whiskey NFTs have one key difference from Mighty Cask – they are suitable for the investor as well as the connoisseur. Purchasing the NFT gives you ownership of the bottle, but your Scotch remains securely stored by the distillery or the NFT platform.
You can hold your investment to let its value appreciate, before reselling it and making a profit. Or you can choose to have your bottle shipped to you, drink the whiskey, and “burn” your token – NFT lingo which means to permanently remove your token from the market.
Mighty Cask’s model is somewhat different, in that you can own your NFT and also enjoy your Scotch. It focuses less on trading and more on the artistic experience it offers – physical, digital and epicurean.
“Mighty Cask expresses that beloved golden spirit as a unique, collectable art form, while extending that spirit into the digital space,” says David Lau of The Chambers by Cask. At the very least, you’re guaranteed to have some eye-catching drinking buddies with your dram.
Bringing craft beer creativity to the fore
Craft beer and NFTs may seem strange, but there are parallels to be drawn between them. For one thing, the craft beer world is no stranger to hype around special small-batch releases, with even some aficionados trade them – the same way fanfare builds around a coveted NFT drop.
On the other hand, the craft beer movement has transformed the humble can into a work of art. Today’s can labels are fun, quirky, collectible – adjectives that just might describe a lot of NFT art on the market.
“There are quite a few similarities between what craft beers are trying to do and what NFTs are trying to accomplish,” says Will Julius, co-founder of Lion Brewery Co. “I think the two occupy a space that grows, and that inspires creativity and experimentation.
Such thoughts were behind the NFT Rosella Collaboration Lager, Singapore’s first craft beer-NFT collaboration. Released earlier in March, the limited-time lager is the love child of Lion Brewery Co. and the Singapore-based artists behind the Hola Mona NFT Collection – a set of 1,503 NFTs generated on the Solana blockchain. For the uninitiated, imagine parody portraits of the Mona Lisa as a cartoon monkey, each adorned with a unique combination of headgear, dress design, and body art.
Tinted with local flavors like jasmine tea leaves and rosella, the lager was designed to “anchor the Hola Mona NFT with something that would engage all of the physical senses.”
In a nod to the creative process of the Hola Mona NFT – where an iconic work of art was transformed into a thousand digital variations – the folks at Lion Brewery have taken the popular beer style of lager and given it a twist. floral and feminine. They then adorned the 500ml cans with an exclusive label design: a Hola Mona-style portrait crowned with a funky lion mask.
Right now, the label isn’t an NFT per se, it’s more of a kind of physical digital art spin-off. “We designed it with collectibles in mind,” Will shares. Rather than jumping on the NFT bandwagon, lager’s success lies in leveraging NFTs to push the boundaries of craft beer trends.
Still, adds Will, “we are thinking about selling this label as an NFT as well, because it is certainly one of a kind. If only we could sell our beers at the price of some NFT!
Create a community with NFT Ice-Cream
It is clear that NFTs have rapidly evolved beyond simple buying and trading – they are luxury status symbols, markers of identity, signs of belonging to an exclusive community.
And for today’s forward-thinking brands, NFTs are the key to taking membership experiences to the next level. Ask the artisan ice cream parlor The Ice Cream and Cookie Company (ICC), which is expected to launch its own app with NFT integrations in June.
Over the past decade, ICC has gained a following for its frozen cookie sandwiches and locally-inspired pints (think chendol and bubble milk tea). To celebrate its big 1-0 this year, the brand has big plans: to achieve Halal certification, expand throughout Southeast Asia, and roll out a seamless shopping experience through the ICC app. More intriguingly, the app will feature an NFT-based membership system with real-world perks (read: frozen treats).
The mechanism is simple: by scanning a code during a purchase, you can hit an ICC NFT called “Ingredient”. These ingredient NFTs take the form of an adorable series of illustrated characters, based on ice cream ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, and pandan.
The ultimate goal is to collect all the fixings needed to “make” your own ice cream, to create your very own ICC pint NFT. App users can even sell, trade or donate their NFT ingredients – oddly reminiscent of trading cards.
What really sweetens the deal, of course, are the real-world rewards NFT holders will get. ICC plans to offer exclusive sweet surprises like ice cream drips and ice cream cakes for members, with an ever-rotating lineup to keep things fresh.
“We believe NFT access tokens are the next generation of memberships, and traditional membership platforms will eventually evolve into that,” says Natasha Chiam, Founder of ICC. “When we created the ICC app, we thought: why not include NFTs as a way to connect our community? Sharing, exchanging and selling NFTs creates a level of engagement that is missing from More than people eating ice cream, we want ICC fans to be a community.
For now, it looks like NFTs will be on the menu for a while. What looked like a brief flirtation between F&B brands and the sexy new crypto craze may well turn into something deeper, given the creative and community value that NFTs bring to the table. Whether consumers are just as eager for this trend remains to be seen.
This article was first published in City Nomads.