After the property-wide revamp of The Club hotel, the neighbourhood gets a whisky-serious bar in its midst again. Like the old B28, the look of the basement bar is still very much geared at helping the dressed-up gentleman feel distinguished. A performance corner has also been carved out for live jazz gigs from Thursdays to Saturdays ($15/person on Fri & Sat). Still, the overall feel is rather cramped, and a busy evening will send decibel levels into a tizzy.
The bookish menu, dedicated to whisky, is hilariously condescending with its pronunciation guide to the typically tongue-twisting names of the Scottish distilleries. Laphoraig (la-FROY’g) and Auchentoshan (OCH-en-TOSH-an) are helpful; Port Charlotte (port-charlotte) and Littlemill (little-mill), less so.
Over 100 labels, now with a focus on Scottish single malts, are displayed behind the bar and tucked into the many cupboards, like vaults. And it’s understandably so. Incredibly rare bottlings command top price tags, like the Glencadam 34-year-old sherry, casked-aged from 1977 ($120/dram, $236/double, $1,800/bottle), Glenfarclas 1954 ($300/dram, $596/double, $4,500/bottle), and Macallan 1969 ($425/dram, $846/double, $6,375/bottle). But expect to pay anywhere from $18 to $30 on the entry-level labels.
Prices for the classic cocktails ($22-$28) have also taken a sharp uptick. Which is odd, seeing as the bar’s Singaporean Diageo Reserve World Class star, Aubrey Sim, has long moved on. Our Negroni ($28) turns out to be a passable cocktail of Tanqueray, Campari and Mancino vermouth.
B28 is still one of the city’s best few whisky-dedicated joints, with its distinguished service and all-rounded approach. But we wonder if the blasé service and more expensive prices will ever help it relive its glory days.