10 bespoke cocktail bars in Singapore to know
20 September 2016
When you’re done eating your way through some of Singapore’s finest eateries, be it over a course of 24 hours, or perhaps a lifetime, be sure to keep the night young at some of city’s hottest bespoke bars.
Tried and tested, we listed out our favourites in this cheatsheet to Singapore’s ever-growing bespoke bar scene.
Located on the corner of Craig Road is an honest, down-to-earth restaurant and bar successfully fusing local Southeast Asian flavours with contemporary flair. Kite’s long and narrow shop house lot is updated with sleek industrial accents that create a sophisticated yet casual vibe. Service is warm, attentive and prompt.
Getting right down to business, Kite serves great classics like whiskey sours and negronis. Where it truly stands out is in delivering custom-made drinks. Order popular favourites such as the pandan-infused vodka, Who-Moved-Kueh, a combination of Cointreau, passion fruit, lime, egg white and pandan vodka, reminiscent of local tea time treats or the calming blend of floral and tea notes rounded off in the Inner Peace cocktail, made with yuzu, chrysanthemum honey, lemon, pu-er and ginger flower gin.
Kite, 53 Craig Rd #01-01, Singapore, 089691, +65 9729 7988, eat-at-kite.sg
Bitters and Love
This dark and cozy little gem serves up alcohol in whimsical and conversational pieces. A subtle peephole entrance opens up into a thriving hipster den with eclectic mix of retro pieces and fun vibes. The team is energetic and positive, though it may take a while to get their attention in the dim lights during packed weekend crowds.
The staple highlight is the Kaya Toast cocktail (Mount Gay rum, Earl Grey tea, fresh lemon juice and honey) topped with an actual kaya toast to boot. The Teh Tarik cocktail, made with Sailor Jerry rum team and milk syrup, is another local favourite completely packaged in the iconic kopi-peng plastic bag and straw.
Bitters and Love, 118 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore, 068587, +65 6438 1836, www.bittersandlove.com
Ah Sam’s Cold Drink Stall
Within Boat Quay, this well hidden speakeasy tucks away wooden tables and walls adorned with chalkboard menus and vintage posters reminiscent of local hawkers. The guys at Ah Sam’s are a dedicated and friendly bunch. They take time to understand your requests and explain what goes into each drink as it is served.
Their all time crowd pleaser is the “Milo Bourbon” – think solid Old Fashioned infused with the school classic chocolate malt powder. They also do a variation called the Milo Dinosaur (“dinosaur” due to the mountain of Milo topping) to cater to those with a slightly sweeter appetite.
Feeling adventurous? Venture into award-winning creations that sound weird but truly capture the essence of home grown comfort food fortified with alcohol. Standouts include the Laksa Cocktail made with dried shrimp oil, laksa leaves, lemongrass, chilli padi, coconut milk, sugar and Ketel One vodka, and The Final Gift – a combination of chrysanthemum, dried tangerine, wolfberry, Luo Han Guo and London Dry Gin.
Ah Sam’s Cold Drink Stall, 60A Boat Quay, Singapore,049848, +65 6535 0838, https://www.facebook.com/AhSamColdDrinkStall
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D.Bespoke is an upscale establishment that executes class and service with a keen eye for detail. Staff are warm, welcoming, well dressed and immediately put you at ease amongst the teak wood bar and plush leather seats. The bar carries a fine range of sherry, armagnac and calvados. These are crafted into made-to-order works of art served in quality glassware and hand cut ice cubes of micro-filtered water.
Start off with sherry tasting flights of three to five tasters or jump right into personalised blends of sherry and whiskey. The minimum spend of S$60 each is well worth the visit for the carefully curated experience where style meets substance.
D.Bespoke, 2 Bukit Pasoh Rd, 089816, +65 8141 5741, dbespoke.sg
The award-winning New York-based bar (“Best Bar in the World” from Tales of the Cocktail in 2011 and ranking top 15 “World’s 50 Best Bars” from Drinks International since 2011) has brought its first international outlet to the Lion City.
The vibe is Art Deco meets Prohibition with booze lined walls behind a serpentine bar. Usual suspects of Manhattans and Gimlets are mixed superbly with homemade tender loving care. The latter for example blends Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin with house-made lime cordial for great flavour in a fuss-free cocktail.
Other signatures include the Provençal, a lavender-infused gin, herb-soaked vermouth and Cointreau, and the Ready Fire Aim cocktail — mezcal, fresh lime juice and house-made honey-pineapple syrup, bitters. Overall, Employees Only lives up to all the hype as the place to be.
Employees Only, 112 Amoy St, Singapore, 069932, +65 6221 7357, employeesonlysg.com
As a game player within the world of fine dining and degustation menus, Tippling Club extends its gastronomic feats to world-class cocktails. The mismatch of refreshing green accents and exposed light bulbs against wood, steel and marble adds a fun quality to the place and is apt of the bar’s experiential drinks.
Self-diagnose with the Purple Drank, made with vanilla and raisin spirit, Curaçao, candy gum, raspberry and citrus, as a brilliant raspberry concoction is packaged in a cough syrup bottle, complete with instructions.
Alternatively, Smashing Good Thyme (blanco rum, thyme, citrus, green peas) will fix your thirst for a refreshing and citrus order. Another ingenious take is the Sartorial, a honey-infused whisky, Earl Grey, clove, black peppercorn, warm flavours and earthy notes served in a perfumed like bottle.
Tippling Club, 38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore, 088461, +65 6475 2217, www.tipplingclub.com
Within the backstreets of Gemmil Lane is a crafty hideaway that quite literally transports you from alley to chic the Japanese influenced restaurant-bar that models a train carriage channelling Orient Express vibes with a brilliant play of dark wood and mirrors. The drinks are light and thoughtful, allowing each note to unfold, which makes them highly recommended as a kick-start to the evening.
Standouts include the signature Le Binchotan, a concoction of Japanese whisky, smoked Scotch, honey, lime and egg white, and the Reviving Hemmingway made with rum, triple sec, dry vermouth and grapefruit juice.
Le Binchotan, 115 Amoy Street #01-04 (Entrance via Gemmill Lane), 069935, +65 6221 6065, www.facebook.com/lebinchotan
28 Hong Kong Street
Visit a pioneer of the local craft cocktail scene that retains its edge amid the burgeoning speakeasies. 28 Hong Kong Street still rakes in awards if anyone is keeping count - number 1 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2016 list and consecutive top 10 World’s 50 Best Bars since 2014 from Drink’s International.
The dim lights lend an air of privacy and exclusivity with tables that equally cater for intimate company or groups of friends. The bar keeps it fresh with a new menu in place. Spring for the Five Foot Assassin, a dark rum, mango puree, lime juice, allspice dram, Angostura boba, nutmeg and pandan cream, for a great mesh of Asian flavours and American spirit.
28 Hongkong St, Singapore 059667, +65 6533 2001, www.28hks.com
This Amoy Steet speakeasy is styled like a modern tavern where simplistic dark furniture meets 1920s jazz under hushed lightings. The atmosphere is casual and fun done right whilst being serious about its cocktails. Known for their wide selection of gin, Spiffy Dapper hits the mark in being inventive with it.
Our request for a refreshing gin-based-drink that was more than a gin and tonic updated with a flower or presented in some deconstructed fashion was met with well-rounded notes of fresh basil and garnished with dehydrated starfruit.
Also, try ‘Sheik on the Level’, made with gin, black Turkish tea, lemon juice and fresh cardamom, for a more Middle Eastern take on a Gin Sour. Beyond gin, they serve up other mean brews such as Whisky Sours and homemade twists on Old Fashions.
Spiffy Dapper, 73 Amoy St, Singapore, 069892, +65 8722 4953, spiffydapper.com
A sleek and spacious bar decked in monochrome mosaic floors counters uptight with old school R&B tunes and a wicked sense of humour. Try their spin on the Zombie with the Walking Dead cocktail, a blend of 13 different rums, passion fruit and pineapple, garnished with a candy eyeball.
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‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ made with Banks 5 Island rum, dry maraschino, pink grapefruit and lime, is an Earnest Hemingway inspired daiquiri inside and out. The sharp and tangy notes are well balanced and the drink is topped off with a paper plane made from a page of his novel. Another creative concoction is Jiak the Ripper, made with London dry gin, blood orange, lemon and amaro, topped with a ‘Whitechapel surprise’, which we recommend you find out in person.
Cufflink Club, 6 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore, 089262, +65 9694 9623, thecufflinkclub.com