June 2019: We have five new bars on our DRINK List placed up front for your easy reference from Madame Fan Bar to Cool Cats. The most notable inclusion is The Old Man, the Singapore offshoot of the current number one on the Asia's 50 Best Bars list.
Welcome to the Time Out DRINK List, our handpicked ‘best of’ Singapore’s drinking scene. These are the most buzzing bars in this city right now: the most inventive and most memorable watering holes, all ranked by expert local editors. Drinking in Singapore is expensive so we did all the hard work for you – scouring the city every night in search of amazing drinks.
Whether you sip or quaff, these are the city's top bars for a boozy night out. We've got joints stocked with quality vino, speakeasies hidden behind unmarked doors, dens devoted to whisky, craft beer breweries and much more in our roundup. We guarantee you won't be able to stop at one drink – just make sure you have a safe ride home.
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Madame Fan Bar is an intimate 40-seater cocktail haven helmed by award-winning bartender Davide Boncimino. The bar might be an offshoot of the Cantonese restaurant located next to it, but don't expect cheesy Chinese-inspired cocktails that are more thematic than tempting. Davide takes a culinary approach to his drinks, making use of high-quality ingredients such as the best strawberries and cherry tomatoes to make a sherbert from scratch. This sherbet goes into making a drink called Portofino ($24), a gin-based cocktail inspired by his Italian heritage. He also crafts his own liqueurs, which can be found in the boozy Yu Cha ($26), a take on a gin martini with shiso vermouth, peated green tea and herbal liqueur that's served in a little teapot for some extra flair.
Vintage vinyl records of Japanese jazz singers, American funk and legendary soul artists line the walls of RPM by D.Bespoke. At the far end of the bar, you'll find a turntable and Iwamitsu Shinji, head bar manager, mixologist and maestro. The Kyushu-born bartender is from Miyazaki Prefecture – a large shochu-producing region in Japan – and makes cocktails with shochu as its base. Unlike sake, which made by fermenting rice, shochu is distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes and other starchy ingredients. Sample different types by ordering a tasting flight ($35), or try classics like the lemon sour ($23) and dark and stormy ($23).
Keep an eye out for the pineapple lamp along the revamped stretch of Kēsa House on Keong Saik. Once you spot it, push open the heavy white doors to find a long, bronze, H-shaped bar and a mosaic portrait of Ernest Hemingway. The bar is named after the literary classic, The Old Man and the Sea, and first launched in Hong Kong in 2017. Barely a year later, it took the fifth spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and 10th on World’s 50 Best Bars. Try some of its signature cocktails like The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Green Hills of Africa and Islands in the Stream – all priced at an affordable $17.
Let Idlewild sweep you off your feet and whisk you away on a magical adventure around the world. Named after John F. Kennedy International Airport’s original moniker, the stunning bar is inspired by the golden age of 1940s travel. Helmed by award-winning bartender Andy Griffiths – who was most recently the head of mixology for The Speakeasy Group in Australia – Idlewild transports guests to far-flung parts of the globe. Try Mexico City’s Sugarloaf ($24) made with fermented pineapple tepache, tamarind, rum, cognac and drizzled with gula Melaka.
Jazz things up at Cool Cats, the NCO Club's live entertainment lounge, which sees a rotation of artists gracing its stage from 9.30pm. Its cocktail menu is inspired by moments in music. There are 14 tipples available that cover everything from 1800s ragtime to legendary jazz artists Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. Try The Ways of the Diva ($24), a tribute to the one and only Empress of the Blues Bessie Smith, a deceptively simple blend of Mozart Dry Chocolate, mezcal, pear. For something a little boozier, go for the Professor of Swing ($26), a mix of VSOP, vermouth, liqueur and bitters.
Every six months, Junior switches things up with a different cocktail concept. Its first was Noma, a showcase of mezcal and tequila and the second, Magnolia, highlighted New Orleans as the birthplace of cocktails like the Grasshopper. Its latest reincarnation pays homage to the Tiki bars of Polynesia. Name Pacifica, the concept offers four sections of drinks: Legends of Liquid Lore, Apertiki, Traditional Tipples of the Tropics and Progressive Potions of Pacifica. Try one from each – we recommend the Zombie ($25) and the Hua’ai Tai ($25), a take n the classic Mai Tai but with homemade miso and corn orgeat – but be warned that despite their easy-drinking nature, these cocktails are potently boozy.
Warning: this basement bar hidden along a back alley at the junction of Club Street and Ann Siang Hill is terribly hard to find but the effort is well worth it. Head to the small path behind Oxwell & Co and look out for the illegible scrawlings on the wall and above the door. Descend into the lair lit by a cloud of bulbs above the bar. Operation Dagger is a hotbed of creativity and cocktail craftsmanship, try ts range of house-fermented wines or pick a cocktail from its ever-changing menu that still has the sense to keep firm faves like the Hot + Cold ($25).
Pay a visit to the current fourth seat on the Asia's 50 Best Bars list, a second-floor sanctum on bustling Amoy Street that's dedicated to all things regional. Let the knowledgeable bar team led by Vijay Mudaliar educate you on spirits from Thailand, the Phillippines, India and beyond, paired with foraged ingredients to give you a taste of Southeast Asia in a cocktail. If you ask nicely, they'll lead you upstairs to see where they distil house gins in flavours like matcha and coffee.
On the second level of Regent Singapore sits a portal to 19th-century New York City, where ladies are decorated in pearls and gentlemen dressed to the nines. Under lowered lights, large leather armchairs and sofas gather around tables to offer enough privacy for a clandestine rendezvous. Its craft cocktails that trace New York's history through the years starting from the 1520s when the early settlers first arrived. If nothing calls out from its creative selection, stick to the classics like a good ol' New York Sour ($25).
This homey bar is your best bet if you’re looking for a crash course on wine. Praelum stocks about 350 labels in its walk-in cellar that you can order in tasting pours and half-portions. Or leave it to the knowledgeable somm, Gerald Lu, to recommend reds, whites, rosés, dessert and sparkling wines – an even mix of both classic and modern producers, refreshed every week – to suit your fancy.
One of the OGs of Singapore's craft cocktail bar scene, Jigger and Pony has found new life in its new space at the Amara Hotel. Its focus is still on doing the classics right, especially its signature Old Fashioned ($23). Asian favourites aren't forgotten either. There's the Jungle Bird ($23), Kuala Lumpur’s calling card of Phraya rum, lemongrass, clarified granny smith apple juice, Campari and lime and other well-loved tipples.
Gibson feels like the old friend you visit when a night out calls for good conversation. It’s a disarming charm that worms its way into the snacks and cocktails. The namesake Gibson ($23) is a boozy creation served with three bite-sized portions of nukazuke, pickled pearl onion, smoked quail egg. Its recently updated menu incorporates Asian ingredients and the flavours of the region alongside a series of non-alcoholic beverages for those attempting dry July.
This grand art deco-inspired bar – complete with magnificent champagne-hued tapestries, intricate gold and bronze balconies and, of course, a massive gin tower standing imposingly over the space – is a definite must-visit. It houses the world's largest collection of gins, with over 1,000 bottles on its shelves, and an impressive champagne cellar to boot. The cocktails are just an impressive, get the Atlas Martini ($24), a spine-tingling blend of gin, Ambrato vermouth, orange bitters, champagne vinegar and pomelo or one of its other expertly crafted concoctions.
Long before craft joints were sprouting up all over the city, there was Smith Street Taps, one of the OGs of Singapore's beer scene housed in a hawker centre, no less. The stall offers 12 rotating international and local craft beers on tap, priced from an unbeatable $8 a pint. It's also a couple of steps away from The Good Beer Company that offers craft beers and sake by the bottle for the discerning kopitiam goer.
The entrance to this sexy saloon is hidden behind an unmarked door that blends into the surroundings of Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. Press the buzzer and a hostess should lead you a den that offers thoughtful cocktail creations prepared by Dario Knox. There are no labels on the bottles here. That’s because each liquor – rum, whisky, moonshine, what-have-you – and its many expressions have been aged and finished in casks by Knox himself.
This is hands down, every oenophiles' most beloved shrine to natural wines. And you know it’s legit because it’s always buzzing with industry folks. There’s no catalogue at this gastrobar – its 150-or-so labels (from $58) are all on display and constantly changing. If it’s an education you’re after, swing by every day (well, Tuesdays to Saturdays), because the wines-by-the-glass (one white and one red, from $12) change daily. Plus, the grub is excellent too.
This legendary import from New York City is always crazy packed – even if the empty psychic booth lit by a neon sign doesn't give any indication of the madness that lies within. Jostle through the crowd of diehard regulars and industry types who jockey for the attentions of the chef-coat–clad barkeeps. There's more peace at the back of the room where you can enjoy plates from its mordern American menu and a boozy beverage of choice.
Remember the cool kid at school who was indifferent to instruction but kept scoring top marks? That’s 28 HongKong Street. Calling the ground floor of an old shophouse home, it's one of the first speakeasies in Singapore – and is still going strong despite its lack of marketing and social media presence. Instead, it relies on a seamless blend of urban swag and American-styled libations: expect only hip-hop classics to cascade from those speakers and cocktails named after rappers like Fernet About Dre ($23), The Real Slim Shandy ($23) and Yeesuze ($23).
In skyscraper-dense Singapore, rooftop bars are no rarity. But when one's perched on the Old Supreme Court Building, where the National Gallery currently stands, you know it's pretty special. Helmed by a new head bartender, Jorge Conde who hails from Galicia, Spain, Smoke & Mirror's menu aims to regale you with unusual flavour combinations and culinary magic. Highlights include the spirit-forward Dali’s Self Portrait, a blend of malts, bacon fat and herbal wine and the Smoke & Mirrors #4, which combines agaves, strawberry and cacao.
Just like how The Other Room redefined speakeasies in Singapore, The Other Roof is out to raise the bar of rooftop bars. Take the lift up the top of Ann Siang House and be greeted by the massive space that seats 75 (or even 150 upon request) – a far cry from The Other Room's tiny space. Lounge al fresco while sipping on tea-infused spirits and snacking on light but tasty bites. Blending tea time with cocktail o'clock, the bar offers drinks like Stairway to Heaven ($22), a love-it-or-hate-it concoction of pineapple, coriander, celery and vanity tea rum, or La Boheme ($22), a refreshing blend of créme de cassis, bubbly and black currant soul tea gin.
Skinny's is as divey as it gets. Its pool table out front, graffiti-laced walls, private karaoke room and stiff AF drinks are all a part of its charm. The effortlessly cool bar is where all the industry folks hang out after hours. Its Fast and Cheap menu has drinks like the Americano and Paloma priced at $15 while the Make it Nice option allows more discerning drinkers to upgrade other classics ($18) with artisanal spirits at just a $3 top-up.
Come for the Happy Hour negroni, stay for the view and the hearty Italian food – we're looking at you, veal meatballs. Jigger and Pony, one of Singapore's main bar groups, teams up with chef David Tang, formerly of Cut by Wolfgang Puck in New York, to present modern Italian fare and drinks that hit the spot. Happy hour from 3pm to 7.30pm is the best time to visit. There are frosés at $12, spritzes for $13 and specialty cocktails going at $15 – a real steal for those looking for a sundowner poised against an unbeatable backdrop.
Anti:dote is what you get when you cross a utilitarian hotel bar with the whimsical imaginations of husband and wife team, Tryson Quek and Bannie Kang. Kang helms the bar, offering a solid menu of nine mixed drinks of reinvented classics alongside an impressive list of spirits available in 45ml or 60ml pours. The Rabbit Hole ($23) is a refreshing one to start with – a mix of carrot juice spiked with Hendrick's Gin, Mancino Bianco and elderflower liqueur – best paired with chicken liver parfait from Quek's progressive European-meets-Asian tapas menu.
The Flagship proudly proclaims itself the 'home of the Old Fashioned'. And with 200 labels of whisky behind the bar, you know it takes its tagline to heart. But instead of overwhelming diners with an impossible range of Old Fashioned variations, there are just four to choose from. There’s the Classic Old Fashioned, Wine of the South, Sherry Cask Old Fashioned and Journey of the West, all retailing at $22. But you're not feeling what's on the menu, the bartender can mix you something from the whiskies, gins or rums available on the shelf.
There are few bars as intensely personal as Shin Gi Tai. A cocktail specialist co-owned by Anthony Zhong (ex-Jigger & Pony), the operation is a one-man-show on most nights. The mood is chatty and convivial. Share your preferred spirits and flavour profiles, and Zhong can whip up something to suit. There are an impressive 180 off-the-menu options in his repertoire. (Hint: you can’t go wrong with his signature Negroni, equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.) Otherwise, there’s a list of updated classics to order from.
This gorgeously hip bar is worth a visit just for its jungle of overhanging bottles and unique perfume menu – a collaboration with International Flavors & Fragrances. Drinks like Oud and Lust ($24), flavoured with distilled clay and shiitake, and Cream of Sandlewood ($24) are inspired by the gorgeous scents of established fragrance houses.
No prizes for guessing on which floor this bar and restaurant is perched. Billed as the world’s highest microbrewery, Level33 gloriously overlooks the Marina Bay, and, thanks to the decor and service, is perhaps the most sophisticated place to quaff a locally brewed beer. Five brews are permanently on the menu: an IPA, stout, wheat beer, house porter and blonde lager. They bear classic flavour profiles – the brewery claims to use ‘authentic recipes and brewing methods’ – so don’t expect funky American-style notes here.
For a refined wine and whisky experience, La Terre doesn't disappoint. But we warned, it's going to cost you. Japanese sommelier Daisuke Kawai – formerly from two-Michelin-starred Les Amis – recommends only the best bottles to pair with your meal. And that's no easy task given that the wine list has thousands of bottles of champagnes, red and whites and whiskies. Depending on what you order, prices can hit the thousands too, with a 1999 bottle of Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux from Burgundy, a headline-grabbing hot favourite at wine auctions, topping the price list at $23,006.
The OG of local rooftop bars might be – literally – overshadowed by younger upstarts on taller buildings, but it hasn't yet lost its place on our list of watering holes for a fun night out. The beer is cold, the vibe casual, and the food now deserves special mention, thanks to Bjorn Shen. The chef-owner of Artichoke brings his 'dude food' leanings to Loof. We're talking over-the-top and greasy-in-a-good-way dishes that you wish you could save in the fridge for when the munchies hit all paired with cheeky locally inspired cocktails.
Located on the quiet second floor of the Rendezvous Hotel, the bar’s out-of-the-way surrounds should suit the crowd-averse malt sipper. It has over 1,500 whiskies including 1863 (yes) to 2000 vintages. The labels are collected from all over the world, and the history on show can definitely be intimidating for budding connoisseurs – the book-like menu certainly doesn’t help much, either. But once you take a seat – either at the bar or on one of the chesterfield couches – the friendly staff and knowledgeable service unfurl a bit of the perceived stuffiness of the space.
These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from throughout Europe and North America. This 23-tap bar on gentrified Tyrwhitt Road gets its name from the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association, which it shares the building with. Beer geeks have an advanced selection of imperial stouts, IPAs and sour beers by the likes of Mikkeller, To Øl and Prairie Artisan Ales to imbibe from $6.
This dapper lounge with accents of teak and British racing green is a handsome den that still retains a relaxed, tropical resort vibe. With private booths and plenty of wicker sofas, it's easy to spend the entire night here and lose track of time. Embark on a journey through Singapore’s history with drinks inspired by five key districts on the island: Orchard, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay, with each section using different ingredients to tell the story of the place. Orchard – a spot once covered with farms and spice gardens before its current life as Singapore’s glitzy shopping belt – features fresh and fruity drinks such as Botanic Royal ($27), a Champagne cocktail with a Southeast Asian twist of jackfruit and kaffir.
At this second-storey den along hip and happening Haji Lane, you're expected to pull up a seat at the bar and share your life story. From there, the expert bar team led by David Koh creates a bespoke cocktail ($20-25) that captures the mood of your tale with its range of elixirs, mixers and house-made syrups. Koh keeps the programming organic and fluid by procuring interesting ingredients and inspirations like Kyoho grapes and kaya toast for the surprise drinks.
Embark on a journey through Singapore's history through the drinks at Nutmeg and Clove. Asian flavours play a dominant part of the flavour profiles here, with cocktails inspired by the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings – a series of 477 watercolour paintings of the flora and fauna of Singapore and Malacca. The menu showcases regional fruits like the pomegranate and guava in drinks like the Popping Grenade ($22) and Why Guava? ($22) as well as spices and vegetables like pepper and sweet potato in the Pepper Mate ($22) and Scotch & Chips ($22).
Every evening, Free the Robot's coffee and sandwiches make way for Bitters & Love's bespoke cocktails and singalong sessions to its killer playlist. Order the famed Kaya Toast cocktail ($26), complete with a slice of bread dolloped with kaya. It joins other locally inspired cocktails on the menu including the Nonya Confessions and head bartender Naz Arjuna's bespoke creations.
Run by Daiki Kanetaka, who's trained under Bar High Five's legendary Hidetsugu Ueno, D.Bespoke puts everything we love about Japanese precision and eye for detail into a bar. The 28-seater shophouse speakeasy hides behind a lifestyle retail front selling the bar’s glassware and leather products. Inside, Kanetaka puts his 16 years of experience to work and you're expected to trust him entirely – guests aren't told how much the food or drinks cost but there's a minimum spend of $60 per person so you're in for a surprise and a treat.
This cosy café that serves brunch by day and hearty plates by night is no pretentious cocktail den. Tess Bar & Kitchen doesn't take itself too seriously – the décor features a couple of offbeat details like dog-shaped cushions and plays a fun track of ’90s dance music. However, the bar programme is run by award-winning bartender Boo Jing Heng who knows a thing or two about crafting some tasty tipples. Try some of his competition cocktails like the Guatemalan Old Fashioned ($20) or customise your own martini.
Once a shophouse that used to offer manicures by day and drinks by night – hence its name that highlights the dual personalities of the space – Jekyll & Hyde is now all about the drinks. The quiet bar offers bespoke cocktails as well as a short list of signatures its grown over the years. Most interestingly, look out for Mr Bean ($23), a dou hua inspired cocktail with butterscotch liqeuer, kaya, frangelico and vodka.
Housed in JW Marriott Singapore and a former military forum, the 55-seater speciality cocktail bar offers a heritage-inspired drinks menu featuring barrel-aged classics and homemade infusions. Its speciality cocktail range from redefined classics like the Superior Martini to heritage-inspired concoctions like the My Old Man for those looking for a crafted experience.
Looking for the best martinis in town? Then head towards the bar that’s named after the tipple: Martini Bar. A firm favourite in the city’s vibrant bar scene, the cocktail joint at the Grand Hyatt Singapore is one of the city's first. You might appreciate its creative concoctions such as gummy bear, apple truffle and blueberry citrus, but we prefer to stick with the tried and true cucumber martini whenever we find ourselves here. 'Mezzatime' happens from 5pm to 9pm daily and is the best time to visit. During these four hours, all martinis, handcrafted gin and tonics, wines and house pours are priced at $14 per glass.
Singapore is the first international outpost for Wolfgang Puck's modern Cali-fusion restaurant and he couldn't have picked a better spot. Perched at the top of Marina Bay Sands, the breezy bar has panoramic views, dim lighting and a friendly bar team that makes you feel right at home. In true American fashion, the cocktails like the Run Like Hell ($26), a light and refreshing tipple of Botanist gin, elderflower, lavender, come in goblets the size of your face.
Before dismissing Uma Uma Ramen as yet another Japanese noodle house, take a closer look at the other door by the entrance. It snakes down into The Horse’s Mouth, a sleek basement bar lit by boxy paper lanterns and peppered with quirky objets d’art, such as a hanging origami display. The concoctions are just as classy and relatively spirit-forward, a style that stems from the bar staff’s training in Japanese techniques. Most drinks are crafted to showcase various Nihon ingredients and, of course, sake exclusive to The Horse’s Mouth.
Named after St Regis founded John Jacob Astor IV, the swish bar’s polished red leather seats, wooden finishings and artwork from Picasso’s Toros series set the stage for a sophisticated, after-work tipple – choose from over 50 cocktails including their daredevil-suited signature Chili Padi Mary (a Bloody Mary spiked with chinese ginger, lemon grass and blazing-hot chillies), vintage champagnes, wines and spirits.
The curtains are drawn and the scene is set. Lanterns cast a dim red glow over the bar as you settle into your seat, waiting for the show to begin. Without missing a beat, the waiter descends upon the table with bottles of sake, each more beautiful in taste than the last to keep you enthralled throughout the evening. Like the Japanese art of Kabuki, which combines dance and drama, Kabuke combines sake and bar bites in an accessible way. With tasting flights and detailed notes on each sake available, this is the place to learn about the spirit sans any pretense.
For casual drinks after work This unassuming bar tucked away on the 10th floor of Yotel serves surprisingly good cocktails. The hidden find is run by food and beverage manager, As’ad Isnin, who’s won competitions run by Barcardi and 42 Below Vodka. He splits the bar menu into four different sections: bittersweet, tropical, sours and timeless so that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And with cocktails priced from $18, there’s even more reason to make your way up to Komyuniti.
Yet another second-floor shophouse unit on Amoy Street, this watering hole stocks more craft beers, spirits beyond Spiffy’s already extensive selection of gin and tonic waters, and a barrel-aged cocktail programme you can buy and enjoy at the tavern-like establishment. In the daytime, the bar is take over by Dapper Coffee operations if you'd rather trade alcohol for caffeine.
Hidden in plain sight, The Secret Mermaid is the alter ego of Shinkansen, a design-your-own salad bar in the CBD. The shared space, outfitted with black grilles and brass piping, morphs into a hole-in-the-wall cocktail bar after five in the evening. Bottles of gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whisky occupy every nook and cranny in this miniscule hideout, and the bar also has one of the largest collections of American craft spirits.
With over 100 labels of gin sitting slick behind its counter, have a martini or gin and tonic your way at Cin Cin. Some recommended gins to try include the Del Gin Professore Madame ($17 glass, $200 bottle), The Corsair Steampunk ($22 glass, $300 bottle) and the Sipsmith VJOP (Very Junipery Over Proof) ($22 glass, $300 bottle). The characters of these gins are so unusual it’ll surprise even the most seasoned of gin drinkers.
Modelled after Gordon Ramsay's casual restaurant of the same name in London, this two-storey restaurant has some excellent cocktail options for those in the Marina Bay area. Sit at the al fresco area that's best for people watching – there are joggers, curious tourists and shopaholics lugging plenty of bags – and sip on classic and innovative tipples as well as an array of wines.
No list of Singapore bars would be complete without the legendary Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, the birthplace of the iconic Singapore Sling. Don't expect upscale, chichi vibes despite its five-star surrounds, the bar is littered with peanut shells so the ladies should probably leave the Blahniks at home. There are a couple of variations of the sling ($25) available to try if you must. Here's a toast to history in one of the oldest bars in Singapore.