Ten incredible cocktail bars in Singapore

The city-state aims to become the world capital of mixology, what with huge, majestic bars and almost secret clubs

08-11-2018

Drink (Old & New Sling atSmoke & Mirrors) with a view of Singapore. The city-state charms with its magnificent cocktail bars 

"Singapore continues to grow. It’s long been in the heart and on the map of fine drinking, but in this edition (of the World’s 50 Best Bars  2018) the Asian city places as many as 5 bars in the list and there’s no doubt it will have a prominent role in the 50 Best. It was recently announced that the city will host the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2019 and 2020, and even the World’s 50 Best Barsin 2021. For the first time after over 10 years the ceremony will leave London and thus become truly global" wrote Alessandra Gesuelli a few days ago on Identità Golose (see 50 Best Bars: Londra, poi Singapore. Per l'Italia tanti bartender, poche insegne– available in Italian).

Indeed, the Asian city-state, which is also making its appearance in fine dining (see We visited the cheapest starred restaurant in the world, Hawker Chan and Odette, sei consigli per condurre il vostro ristorante al successoin Italian), is already at the top when it comes to cocktail bars: whether in spectacular buildings or in hidden clubs, mixology has found its new home here.

We recently visited Singapore, and tested many of these places. Here’s our exploration.

Manhattan
Number 3 in the World’s 50 Bars, and number one in Asia, it’s a real temple for mixology, inside the luxurious Regent Hotel. Majestic, incredible: there’s the Rickhouse with 100 small barrels, each with a different cocktail inside, maturing and acquiring new nuances; the American Whisky Embassy, a collection of over 200 rare bourbon, ryes and craft whiskies. Despite the splendour, the price of each cocktail is very reasonable. An institution.
Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore 249715

Atlas Bar
Number 8 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. In this case too, a breath-taking building: almost 2,300 square metres of marble, velvet, copper and gold in Art Deco style, with an incredible "gin tower" which includes a huge collection of 1,100 bottles, including some that are over a century old. They used to belong to the late real-estate entrepreneur from Hong Kong, magnate CS Hwang, who built the place. There’s the Shipwreck Champagne, bottled in 1907, ready to be opened. People on board the Titanicwere toasting with that wine. This bottle, and a few others, also sank, but on another boat: Swedish cargo ship Jönköpingwas hit by a German U-boat in the Baltic Sea while it transported its load to the Russian Czar Nicholas II. So the champagne remained for three quarters of a century at the bottom of the sea, where pressure, cold water and darkness perfectly preserved it. In 1997 some of these bottles were recovered. One is here, it costs around 120,000 euros…
Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778

Native
Number 13 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. We move to the Chinese neighbourhood, to Ann Siang Hill, the so-called Bermuda Triangle of Singapore’s nightlife. Here Native is growing with energy, and got the Highest Climberaward, +34 places: there are no classics in the menu, but cocktails based on strictly local products (by "local" we mean the region: India, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka), like an exceptional fermented Indian sweet lime. Expect homemade vinegar, yogurt whey, pandan, laksa leaves and so on. The décor is made of wood, blue like the cabin of a ship, recalling the theme of travelling. We tasted some extraordinary drinks with ants (there are grasshoppers too) paired with gula melaka, a purée of sweet potato, curry and pistachio, which you can taste with some flour chips. A beautiful aromatic balance. The head bartender Vijay Mudaliar studies his magic potions in a laboratory on the second floor.
52A Amoy Street, Singapore 069878

Operation Dagger
Number 23 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. Like Native, we’re in the Bermuda Triangle. In this area, Chinese secret businesses were thriving until a blitz by the police in July 1956, called Operation Dagger. It’s a hidden club: there’s a featureless little door on the street, you walk a few steps down a staircase in cement, and then find yourself in a rather dark and small space, the kingdom of fermentations, cross-overs of all kinds, micro-herbs, vinegars and spices from South East Asia. Cocktails are around 25 Singapore dollars, the equivalent of 15 euros. If you want to pair the drink with some food, there’s a choice of omakase, the bill will get to 60-95 euros depending on the appetite. We tasted an excellent interpretation of a Moscow Mule (fermented rye, currants, coriander snow, honey). But it’s unlikely you’ll find it. The list changes every three months.
7 Ann Siang Hill B1-01, 069791 Singapore

28 Hongkong Street
Number 34 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. We didn’t go there, to be honest, but they told us it’s one of the pillars for good drinks in town: lovely elaborated classics together with a list of innovative drinks, all this surrounded by a welcoming soundtrack and staff, always evolving. You can match the drink with a series of delicious snacks.
28 Hongkong Street, Singapore 059667

Oxwell & Co
Off the 50 Best Bars, some more good places. Also in Chinatown, on Ann Siang Hill, there’s Oxwell & Co. In the 19th century, the area was owned by a rich Chinese entrepreneur, Chia Ann Siang, who then sold everything to some British gentlemen who moved to this elegant building. At Oxwell & Co, opened in April 2015, you can still find that British-colonial character. You can eat here, it’s a restaurant to all effects (English classics interpreted with taste) and have an excellent drink: de-structured piña colada or gin tonic with home-made ingredients – they grow the herbs on the terrace on the top floor.
5 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069688

Nutmeg & Clove
It’s focused on the neglected biodiversity of Singapore, giving a new take on great classics with a local touch, and inspired by William Farquhar’sCollection of Natural History Drawings, a volume with 477 watercolours of plants and animals that lived in Malacca and Singapore between 1819 and 1823. So herbs, spices and fruit, as well as flowers. King & Queen (14 euros), for instance, is made of Mount Gay Black Barrel, durian, mangosteen, Malacca coffee, pandan, fresh lemon and clarified milk: then there’s rum, which meets the sweetness of the mangosteen and durian (tropical fruits), plus pandan leaves and toasted coffee notes.
10A Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069789

Mr. Stork
On the rooftop of the Andaz Singapore, a luxury hotel, part of the Hyattgroup, there’s a cocktail bar with a swimming pool, a terraced garden and a magnificent view. The drinks are inspired by what grows in the garden: rhubarb purée, strawberry and lemon juice with sparkling wine and a small glass of vodka; or Ruby, a mix of lemon, ginger, mint, vermouth and Ceylon Arrack. The bar also teamed up with RedDot Brewhouse for their Andaz Pale Ale, a sparkling and fruity beer.
5 Fraser Street Level 39, Andaz, Singapore 189354

1-Altitude
They say it’s the highest cocktail bar in the world, 282 metres above sea level. The place is located between the 61st and 63rd floors at One Raffles Place, and from the roof it offers a 360° view of the 20 most important buildings and the old town. To access the super terrace there’s a ticket between 35 and 45 Australian dollars (22-29 euros) including two drinks, which are not bad. Of course people come here mostly for the view and to dance, as it’s also a club with deejay.
1 Raffles Place, Singapore 048616

Smoke & Mirrors
On the sixth floor of the National Gallery Singapore, a nice al fresco cocktail bar with a scenic view of the city, especially Padang and Marina Bay. Wood, copper and warm lights. The drinks are good: for us a fruity and refreshing Old & New Sling (Rye whisky, cassis, bitters and pineapple bubbles) and a Mighty Duck, with an oriental allure (rum with jackfruit, five spicy types of honey, an edible egg shell), respectively for 27 and 20 Singapore dollars, that is to say 17 and 13 euros. 
1 St. Andrew's Road, #06-01 National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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