With Gem Bar as the watering hole, Zui Hong Lou the quirky dinner/ supper option, and now, the newlyopened Manor Cocktail Room for more discerning drinkers, The Establishment Group has styled their outpost on the corner of Ann Siang Road and Club Street as a mini-complex of nighttime options.
Of the three spaces, Manor is the one that packs the most muscle yet (though Gem Bar has been upping its game recently with DJ gigs and more). Staffed by respected bar industry senior, Din Hassan – you might remember him most recently fronting the operations at Bitters & Love – and his protégés, Manor has a clear plan to bring a serious drinks programme to the area.
As part of their Bar Shifts programme, Din will capitalise on his extensive black book of contacts in the drinks world to occasionally invite local and international bartenders to shake things up at the counter – he’s already been building up a world map of name cards from them as evidence of their visits.
On the menu is a small list of Din’s signature style of local-leaning cocktails, complemented by a broader range of premium spirits, including rare Balvenie labels, which Manor showcases in a wall case alongside irreverently altered classic paintings. The decor is completed with some handsome chesterfield loungers and walls of dark green that set a men’s room tone to the space – a distinct shift after the entrance inside Zui Hong Lou, which takes you up along a bright red staircase.
The attention given to the customer experience here is appreciated, but you’re best off sticking to the script. On one visit, we were offered the option of a bespoke cocktail from the get-go, and after some negotiations (our request for ‘something smoky’ was met with a counter-offer of a gin drink), the result netted us a weak glass of Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Islay whisky countered with freshly-squeezed lemons and irritating bits of thyme leaves ($22), made by a friendly barman on Din’s day off. You certainly won’t go wrong with one of the master’s drinks however, such as the glass of Nourishing Soup ($20) – a inventively complex mix of rum, yellow chartreuse, lime juice and curry powder topped with a small papadum.
Food options are cooked up in the kitchens downstairs, so it’s largely the same fryer-dunked bar snacks (truffle fries, Gem wings and calamari, $6-$24) you’ll find at Gem Bar. But the fact that the folks at The Establishment Group have managed to draw Din to Club Street is certainly a promising step for the area, which doesn’t tend to go far beyond wine and cheap booze for punters. With Din, Manor has a hugely talented draw – just hold off on ordering anything too complex when it’s his day off.
|Venue name:||Manor Cocktail Room||Contact:|
8 Ann Siang Hill
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu, Sat 5pm-1am, Fri 5pm-2am|
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