Shin Gi Tai has moved to Telok Ayer Street and is located above Park Bench Deli. The Japanese-inspired cocktail bar still focuses on the classics. There is no menu – simply tell the bartender what you want (be it cocktail, spirit or flavour profile) and they'll whip something up. Prices start from $25.
Original review by Chin Hui Wen, June 2015
There are few bars as intensely personal as two-month-old Shin Gi Tai. A cocktail specialist co-owned by Anthony Zhong (ex-Jigger & Pony), the operation is a one-man-show on most nights, with Zhong regaling patrons with bartending tales from his travels. The mood is chatty and convivial, but when the room starts to fill, expect to wait a while for service.
While it isn’t a bespoke cocktail joint, share your preferred spirits and flavour profiles, and Zhong will 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. Standouts include the osmanthus gimlet ($20) – a bright floral mix of Gordon’s Gin, osmanthus syrup and lime – and Granny’s Old Drink: Zhong’s take on an Old Fashioned, made with cognac and Grand Marnier instead of bourbon and an orange twist. The place is named after a Japanese principle typically used in martial arts, but the cocktails could do with more care and precision. Most of the drinks we received lacked complexity and were too spirit-forward – and not necessarily in a good way.
The Japanese influence extends to the bar bites. Top-notch izakaya-style recipes like shisamo tempura with chips ($12) – perfectly crisp and rich with roe – plus the chicken katsu sandwich ($12) are hearty enough to mitigate the effects of Zhong’s drinks.
Shin Gi Tai is becoming a third place where everybody knows your name – its current clientele is almost entirely composed of regulars. And that’s how Zhong wants to keep it: under the radar and appreciated by those truly in the know.