Singapore's bar scene has blossomed tremendously in the past couple of years. Not only do we have some of the best bars in Asia, we also have plenty of local talent flying our flag high and big overseas names landing on our shores with exciting new concepts.
We take a look at some of the big new bar openings in town including Garden Club, a rooftop bar with botanical tipples in the heart of the CBD, Taki Taki a new rum-focused bar shaking up $17 cocktails and more new concepts and menus waiting to be savoured.
Junior changes its concept twice a year and for the rest of 2019, all eyes and lips are on Petite Chalet. It’s a kitschy tongue-in-cheek nod to the American alpine ski lodge discos of the 1970s – yes, the extra e is intentional – and Junior's petit size. Don’t let the ski-themed decor fool you – you’re not served tourist-grade beverages here. The drinks here are stiff (spiked with an array of alpine liqueurs), festive and well balanced. Categorised by the four seasons, the drinks also come in varying difficulty for beginner, intermediate and advanced drinkers. But don't let the labels scare you – this isn't an actual ski slope, just pick a cocktail and enjoy the ride. Try Sweater Weather ($25), a cognac-based drink that leans on dark rum, spiced pear and honey to emulate the cosy transition from summer to fall. Or from the summer menu, Garden Gnome ($25) if only for the cute ceramic cup it's served in.
Got a mental picture of a bar dedicated The Who? Scratch that. Though named after the rock anthem by the British rock legends, this spankin' new drinking den by A Phat Cat Collective – the brains behind Nineteen80 – is far from a fanboy's cave. Instead, it's bathed in vibrant hues and retro designs à la the 70s, and as it says on the tin – has pinball machines too. Located at Sim Lim Square, Pinball Wizard is a fresh combo of retro games, throwback music and trendy tipples for night owls seeking and alternative night out. Pick your poison from its drinks menu that’s split into two categories – Signature Cocktails for innovative concoctions and Cocktail Remixes for fun renditions on classics.
Commanding the space at Taki Taki is not DJ Snake or Selena Gomez, but rather, rum. This new tiki bar located above The Working Capitol opens as early as 4pm and serves a rum-focused menu for those who want to get the party started. Groovy beats and tropical decor help set the mood, but it’s really the cocktails that hit the spot. Each comes with a playful local spin, like the Nonya daiquiri ($17) with Sailor Jerry, gula Melaka, coconut milk, and lime; or the Passion Panjang ($17) with Black Tears, passionfruit, and prosecco. The rum range runs safe but versatile – Appleton 12 YO, Mount Gay Extra Old to the frisky Six Saints Caribbean. Not sure where to start? Sample its 13 different rums (from $15) before committing to a bottle.
Tucked away on the fifth floor of the sprawling metal tower of OUE Downtown Gallery lies a pocket of calm within the CBD. Finding The Garden Club might be tough; you need to navigate a confusing maze of identical-looking corridors. But when you do, the space greets you with its verdant greenery and rooftop garden. Depending on what’s in bloom, some ingredients might even sneak into your cocktail glass. The drinks follow a botanical theme, like the Rasa Sayang ($16) with white wine, lemon soda, lychee, and dried rosebuds; or the gin-based Kensington Cooler ($16) shaken with earl grey, honey, lemon juice, and dried lavender buds.
Marquee might have stolen all the limelight when it first opened its doors but there’s good reason to give its sister venue Avenue a shout as well. Located below the mega-club, the swanky bar resembles a grand New York penthouse with large green banquettes and stunning glass pendant lights. And just like you’d expect in the home of the ultra-rich, the bar boasts vintage arcade games like pinball and skee ball machines, a mini bowling alley and a Funktion One sound system to keep the party going all night long.
Ladies, drop by on Wednesdays for a complimentary glass of prosecco as well as $11 cocktails and house pours. On regular nights, cocktails like the G.L.T. ($22) made from gin, lychee, beetroot and tomato juice and Camillo’s Cure ($22), gin, Campari, spiced wine and grapefruit are available alongside a wide variety of spirits and bottle packages.
Enter the Heart of Darkness, where the IPAs are some of the hoppiest in the biz and the pilsners are made for sipping by an imaginary beach. The beer brand is one of Vietnam’s leading craft breweries and its Singapore taproom brings a taste of Saigon to our shores. It serves classics like pho and spring rolls as well as over 20 beer options – 10 tried and true favourites from the brand and 10 rotational pours. These include collaborations with local brewers like That Singapore Beer Project and Daryl’s Urban Ales alongside best-sellers like the Kurtz’s Insane IPA ($20).
Jigger and Pony's sophomore magazine-inspired menu shines a spotlight on uncommon based spirits you don't usually find in our local bars. Start your spirituous adventure with the Williams Cooler ($23) that highlights two pear brandies: the French Vedrenne Poire Williams and the Italian Capovilla Pere Williams alongside jasmine orris liqueur to bump up the fruity drink's floral notes. Now that your palate's refreshed, sample the sweet and creamy Mango Hazelnut Daiquiri ($23) made with Clairin Communal Rhum, a pure rum from Haiti made from hand-harvested sugarcane transported the old-school way – by ox carts and donkeys. Fans of spirit-forward cocktails will prefer the Barley Manhattan ($23), a twist on the classic blended with Tsukushi Kuro Barley Shochu and Maker’s Mark Bourbon.
Gibson keeps getting better and better. Climb up to the second floor of this 80-year-old heritage shophouse and enter Emerald Cty. The gorgeous green marble long bar is lit by the glow radiating through the stained glass. Behind it, bartenders dressed in bow ties and bermudas are shaking up classic cocktails crafted with Asian ingredients. The bar's namesake, The Gibson ($23), is always a safe bet. Made with Roku gin and Ginjo sake-vermouth, the boozy drink pays homage to Japan in its elegant simplicity. Other standouts on the new menu include the Mango PX ($23) crafted with homemade Pedro Ximénez sherry made from Philippine mangoes instead of grapes. The sweet mango wine is then fortified with Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky and aged in a barrel to round out its flavours for easy drinking.
Here’s your guide to modern drinking, which in this case means clever twists on the recipes of Auguste Escoffier, the venerable chef who shook up the kitchens of France in the early 20th century. The menu follows his culinary ethos of elevated simplicity and offer an alcoholic take on classic French dishes as well as drinks inspired by his life. Try the Sorbets au Champagne ($25), a dish commonly served as a palate cleanser between courses transformed into a scintillating tipple of grapefruit, Aperol and bubbles to delight and refresh. For something more spirit-forward, sip on the Banh Mi Sazerac ($25), a savoury take on the classic cocktail with foie gras and shio koji that's said to take inspiration from Ho Chi Minh's time as a pastry chef working under Escoffier.
No longer just a cocktail bar, Origin Bar now boasts a volume of rum that’s sure to impress: some 350 bottles from 40 countries line its shelves. Choosing a dram can be overwhelming – the extensive collection ranges from three-year-old Tanduay White Rum ($18) to 50-year-old El Dorado ($1,100) from Guyana, South America. But if you can, look beyond big-name distillers and give Origin Bar’s original concoctions a try. It offers rums aged in young coconuts as well as Valrhona chocolate vessels for over a week to bring out different characteristics of the rums.
Orchard Road is not typically known for its quality cocktail offerings but Alley Bar is looking to change that impression. Located in a large restored shophouse along Emerald Hill, the bar is classy and unpretentious, offering tasty bar grub and a refreshed cocktail menu that puts a local spin on classics. If you like your drinks sweet then Milo Banana-Rum-A ($20) should suit your fancy with a salty edge to balance out the caramel notes. On the other side of the spectrum lies the Double Happiness Negroni ($20), a boozy and bitter tipple with red date-infused genever.