THE latest drinking trend to hit town is the liquid buffet. But no, it's not a super-value meal for those on some newfangled liquid diet.
We're talking about as many glasses as you can drink of wine, beer and hard liquor within two hours, priced between $48+++ and $58++ per person.
It might sound too good to toast to, but three such buffets have already popped up in hotel lounges at the Pan Pacific Singapore, Marina Mandarin Singapore and Carlton Hotel since last October.
Without the promotions, the same amount of money at these places buys between only one and four drinks.
While the Pan Pacific and Marina Mandarin see from 15 to 50 buffet guests a month, as many as 25 customers can be seen revelling in spirited indulgence on weekend evenings at Carlton Hotel.
|Where to get your liquid fix
Pan Pacific Singapore
Buffet hours: Any two hours from noon to 9.30pm daily
$48+++ per person gets you a free flow of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, excluding cocktails. There is also a 30 per cent discount on tapas orders. Between 6.30 and 8.30pm, the tapas are complimentary.
Marina Mandarin Singapore
Buffet hours: Any two hours from 8pm to midnight, Sundays to Thursdays.
At $58++ per person, guests get a free flow of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including cocktails.
Buffet hours: Any two hours from noon to 9pm daily; valid till Sept 30
For $48+++ per person, enjoy a free flow of beer, wine and liquor, excluding cocktails. There is also a 30 per cent discount on snack items from the bar menu.
Such positive customer response has prompted Carlton Hotel to extend its offer - originally from June 1 to the end of this month - to September. The Pan Pacific, which launched the buffet in October last year and Marina Mandarin, in May, are keeping it as an ongoing promotion.
While the Pan Pacific does not track the customer profile for its liquid buffet, both Marina Mandarin and Carlton Hotel say they are seeing more Singaporeans, rather than foreign guests, taking up the offer. The former are usually corporate executives chilling out at the lounge after work.
On why foreigners account for only 20 per cent of Marina Mandarin's liquid buffet customers, the hotel's food and beverage manager Michael Seet says: 'Most of our hotel guests are here on short business trips with a packed schedule that does not allow them to indulge in alcohol.'
As for Singaporeans, the lure of the buffet is spelled clearly in dollars and cents.
Property agent Johnson Sim, 28, who meets his business clients at Pan Pacific's atrium lounge for drinks twice a week, says he has saved 'half the amount of money' he used to spend since he opted for the liquid buffet. He has about eight drinks per buffet.
As with any other buffet, however, patrons may get carried away by the free flow of alcohol and consume more than they should.
According to Dr Alexius Chee, a consultant gastroenterologist in private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, a person with a healthy liver should not consume more than seven units of alcohol a week.
One unit of alcohol is approximately a can of beer, a glass of wine or a single shot of hard liquor.
Dr Chee also cautions against occasional drinkers who think that they can 'make up for lost time' by accumulating their drink allowance in one sitting.
'Consuming alcoholic beverages in amounts that exceed the safe limits within a short period of time is known as binge drinking. This may lead to inflammation of the liver,' he says.
After a bout of such heavy drinking, a person might also experience violent retching, which may tear the oesophagus and cause bleeding into the stomach, says Dr Yap Chin Kong, another consultant gastroenterologist in private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.
The police has also voiced its concerns about responsible drinking at liquid buffets in light of recent incidents of drink driving.
Police spokesman Cheryl Foo strongly advises all motorists not to drive 'after taking even a little alcohol'.
While the spokesmen for all three hotels told LifeStyle that they have not had guests getting drunk at the buffet, they are confident of tackling the situation should it happen.
Their staff have been trained to identify guests who appear intoxicated and in such cases, to stop serving alcohol. They will also offer to hire a taxi to send these guests to their next destination.
But nothing beats a disciplined drinker at a liquid buffet who is aware of his social responsibilities.
'I've a friend who passed away from a drink driving accident 10 years ago and since then, I've vowed to never drink and drive,' says property agent Sim, who takes a taxi home whenever he drinks at the Pan Pacific.
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