If you'd asked a Singapore local to recommend great cocktail bars seven years ago, they'd strain to identify more than two. Today, a new, hot and world-class cocktail den seems to emerge every month in the tropical metropolis. Bars like the swish Manhattan and game-changing 28 Hong Kong Street, two of a few Singaporean bars listed in 2017’s World’s Best 50 Bars, have helped make this Southeast Asian city-state a contender for Asia’s best city for quality cocktails. Next time you’re headed to the Lion City, check out these fantastic bars for top-notch tipples.
Jigger & Pony
Located in the bar-hopping haven Amoy Street, Jigger & Pony is a vintage-themed bar that attracts trendy clientele. The menu from this often-packed bar offers mostly classic cocktails — think Negronis, Dirty Martinis and the Knickerbocker — with a few creative signatures, and an option to do a selection of “spirit flights” grouped by geographic regions like Taiwan and Scotland. The bar bites here are also worth your consideration, featuring items like arancini balls with onion puree and a Australian steak tartare topped with quail egg.
Sugarhall Bar & Grill
Sugarhall is Jigger & Pony’s laid-back neighbor, with a soundtrack of esoteric hip-hop rhythms and reggae and low-lit lamps encased in mason jars. There’s certainly no guessing game to Sugarhall’s spirit speciality upon looking at the impressive quadruple-stacked center display of rum bottles at the bar. Bartenders churn premium cocktails like the Plum Sour with Bulleit Bourbon and camomile tincture and the Mai Tai Flaming Bowl, a mega-sized classic cocktail with 15-20 servings for a group. If you want meat with your cocktails, Sugarhall’s got you covered with bites and a smart grill menu of chicken, iberico pork collar and two luscious steak cuts.
28 Hong Kong Street
When Singapore’s bartenders are asked which bar revolutionized the cocktail scene, nearly all point to 28 Hong Kong Street. There’s no signage at the door and no social media pages at this Lower Manhattan-style speakeasy, which serves high-quality cocktails in a fun, dimly-lit atmosphere. Bar buffs Peter Chua, Joe Alessandroni and Zac de Git have helped maintain the legendary status of the bar with expert cocktails, great service, and a menu of ‘guilty pleasure’ comfort foods like mac & cheese balls.
This is no ordinary hotel bar. On the upper floor of the luxurious Regent Singapore lies Asia’s best bar for 2017, based on the World’s Best 50 Bars list. Few bars in the world can compete with Manhattan’s glamor factor — velvety drapes, marble tables, plush seats and sexy lighting — and instead of veering into stuffiness, the entertaining bartender staff help keep the atmosphere light and jovial. Cocktails (and food) are grouped into eras of Manhattan history, from a clay pot-contained cocktail inspired by the “First Voyage” of the 1500’s to the New Tongue drink, an ode to the rise of Afro-centric hip-hop in the 80’s and 90’s with coconut rum, roobois falernum and pineapple lime.
Step into the Twenties at The Gibson, a small and sumptuous bar with hunter green seats, suited bartenders and a transporting atmosphere. However, there’s more to it than you think. While mainstay cocktails are on offer, there’s many more that are unconventional and downright fun, like the Disco Ball, with Ketel One Vodka and carbonated apple juice with colored tapioca balls. The Gibson boasts a stellar seafood-focused menu, with a Washington-sourced oyster list, bites like sea urchin with cauliflower puree on a brioche bun, and a delectable lobster roll topped with fish roe.
The Other Room
Ever approached a bar and the buzz was palpable even before entering?
Take The Other Room, on an unassuming ground-floor corner of a large Marriott lobby, covered by a discreet thick black curtain with a not-so-discreet music volume. The dark, Prohibition-themed den heaves with young, Soho-like types even on a late Sunday night, most of whom can’t get enough of the bar’s bespoke cocktail creations. The cocktail on the menu features a flavor profile, historical notes and strength level, while the food list is short-and-sweet with the likes of pan con tomate and chicken sausage chili dog with kimchi. Don’t go looking for a laid-back night here: this is perhaps Singapore’s ultimate party lounge for serious cocktail connoisseurs.
Once you enter the D.Bespoke bar, you’re not in Singapore anymore. Instead, you’re in a handsome Japanese Ginza-style bar filled with jazz, bartenders in snazzy suits and premium cocktails. The luxurious 28-seater bar specializes in premium Spanish Sherries, French Calvados and Armagnacs and rare Rums; bar owner and sartorialist Daiki Kanetaka creates custom cocktails based on the guest’s preferences. It isn’t the cheapest bar in town (and there’s no price list on the menu), but for a classy, transporting experience, D.Bespoke is tops.
Basement bar meets dystopia at Operation Dagger, a den of experimental cocktails house under a ceiling installation of 6,000 (mostly unlit) light bulbs. To find it is difficult as the door is unmarked and on a nondescript street corner, but those who discover the underground bar by Melbourne-born Luke Whearty will be treated to a chilled atmosphere and mad scientist-style cocktails, like the Chocolate Mint, which blends cold brew cacao, mezcal, house-made mint Amaro poured with distilled mint ice.
Nutmeg & Clove
The simply-designed, history-obsessed Nutmeg & Clove wears its Singaporean pride on its drinks menu. Instead of an ordinary list of cocktails, the bar categorizes drinks by herbs, spices, flowers, and fruits seen in the country, directly inspired by the 19th-Century William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings. Patrons can choose from a selection of classics like the venerable Singapore Sling or go for their “twisted” sibling. For the Singapore Sling, there’s the Lion in a Sling, made with pineapple-infused Hendricks Gin, Cointreau, benedictine, hibiscus, green chartreuse mist, and Cherry Heering.