Nothing suggests a ‘lads’ bar more than a foosball table by the entrance and, as if that weren’t enough, further into Neo a Playboy themed pinball machine reinforces our initial impression. Admittedly, for all our concern, we do find our fingers start to itch when we spot an arcade machine in the corner. A room full of mismatched chairs and sofas heightens the frat-house vibe – in a good way – and primes us for a lot of one-armed back pats and stories that start with, ‘Dude…’.
But instead of a giant beer keg we find sophisticated wine, beer and mixology on the menu. Surprisingly, the signature cocktails are quite out-of-the-box. A concoction called Neo hive ($120) is served with blue-lit ice cubes and a glow stick for aesthetics, but we plump for a drink that doesn’t glow when back lit, and select an old Cuban float ($120). The drink is served with a small spoon to scoop up the rum-infused sorbet floating in a shallow glass of lime, mint and prosecco. For a rum cocktail, this is surprisingly acerbic and the flavours come together to battle the sweet notes of the spirit. Next, we try the boulevardier compliments ($90). We're attracted by the sous vide saucisson-infused bourbon in the description; unfortunately we can't discern any at all, but the vermouth and whisky are a good combination and the olive garnish helps mellow the bite.
Neo may have the look and feel of a Bud-soaked bro hangout, but the drinks tell a different story. It may seem just the thing for grown-up frat boys, but anyone who enjoys a chill and vibrant environment will find plenty to appreciate.
10 Shin Hing St, Central