This tiny 10-seater bar first started out in the hidden alleys of Tanjong Pagar, making a name for itself with its experimental ideas and ever-changing cocktail menu. But growth was imminent for this pint-sized watering hole; it needed a bigger location to house its expanding customer base – and ambition.
Junior The Pocket Bar has now moved to a bigger space; a 25-seater tucked behind Maxi Coffee Bar. Enter through a side door, and be greeted by the same intimate vibes that most know the bar for.
It’s current menu spotlights Washi, a Japanese-inspired concept that was previously found at its old digs. Sip on its Origami Cocktails ($25) that include Crane, a floral number sweetened with three styles of grapes; Koi with fruity bursts of cantaloupe and coconut, and the Panda, a take on what bamboo might taste like with woody flavours of genmaicha vermouth and pickled bamboo shoot.
With the larger space comes room for a larger menu as well. Besides its usual rotating line-up, Junior will now spotlight a selection of mainstays. In particular, try the housemade kombucha, which depending on the time of visit, might come brewed with Ceylon tea and passion fruit ($13). Although it’s best to have it spiked with a dash of Campari and turned into a refreshing highball ($21).
Feeling adventurous? Choose from the Eat The Rich menu ($28), where cocktails come concocted using culinary methods, served alongside a bar bite. For those who like a savoury edge to their drink, get the Double Truffle Sazerac with whiskey, chestnut cognac, absinthe and black truffle. And between bites of the smoked ricotta and truffle honey, the woody notes become much more pronounced.
There’s even space now to fit a proper kitchen now, and with that comes an expanded selection of hearty Asian-inspired grub. Munch on popcorn ($5) tossed with furikake, and line the stomach in anticipation for the main highlight – Junior’s signature sandos. French Dip Banh Mi ($22) comes with a side of spiced beef jus to soak and dunk the crunchy baguette in, while mala hot chicken ($18) packs a gentle, numbing heat.
Original review by Nicole Marie-Ng on September 24 2019:
Every six months, Junior switches things up with a different cocktail concept. Its first was Norma, which featured mezcal and tequila-based drinks. Then came Magnolia, a showcase of New Orleans cocktail culture before Pacifica and its potent tiki tipples took over. Now, there's another reason to visit: 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. After all, the pocket bar only fits about 20 people. And this time, it has everyone dancing to ABBA sipping on cocktails meant for colder weather than Singapore's balmy climes.
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) is worth ordering if only for the cute ceramic cup it's served in. But don't let its innocent appearance fool you, this one's made for the adventurous imbibers, utilising absinthe, tequila, gentian, cucumber and dill. For a hug in a mug, get the Swiss Miss ($25), hot chocolate spiked with green chartreuse and dark rum that's topped with coconut cream and cinnamon. One sip and you're instantly transported to the alps – all that's missing are the snowy mountains and crackling fireplace.
But all's forgiven because Petite Chalet's food is as impressive as its drinks and atmosphere. The Bavarian pretzel ($7) with sweet onion mustard may be the best on the island. Then there's the chicken schnitzel ($13) with spiced pear ketchup and tartiflette ($18) made of layered brie and gruyere cheese, scalloped potatoes, lardons and onion – food to fuel dreams of your next winter getaway.