Following a successful bartending career in Singapore, Summer Chen returned to her native Taiwan to open Vender with her partner, Darren Lim. Chen liked the idea that vending machines are everywhere providing daily essentials, so she based her bar on this premise: indeed, the venue’s vending machine entrance is unlocked by inserting a coin. Once inside, guests are greeted by a small welcoming portion of a Singapore Sling to nod to Chen’s past, plus vending machines selling bottled cocktails and beers alongside capsules denoting the cocktails, allowing them to choose their drink at random.
Vender’s cocktail menu features pockets containing the main ingredients used in each signature cocktail – which are named after different types of vending machines – allowing guests to explore each individual ingredient to inform their final choice. Cocktails feature herbs and spices from Southeast Asia and food also nods to the region with dishes such as bak kut teh (a Hokkien pork rib broth) and chili crab on offer. The Cigar Vending Machine cocktail is inspired by Chen’s first taste of Cuban cigars and features dark rum, red wine syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white, aromatised wine and chocolate bitters, smoked using Taiwanese cypress wood chips.