Singapore’s World-Class Cocktail Bars

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

When it comes to ordering a delicious drink, it’s no surprise that Singaporeans are in high spirits. After all, the city-state is home to eight of the venues named in the World's 100 Best Bars list for 2019. From eye-catching interiors to talented bartenders and terrific tipple, there’s plenty to raise a glass to.

For an America-Inspired Experience

Coming in at number 11 on the world top 100 list, Manhattan at The Regent Singapore is inspired by the glamour and sophistication of New York’s old-school hotel bars. Whiskey enthusiasts should order a drop from one of the barrels stored in the on-site rickhouse, while cocktail-filled Sunday brunch sessions are the time for alcoholic milkshakes and custom-concocted Bloody Marys and G&Ts. Whatever time of day you visit, the marble and mirrored interiors and leather and velvet armchairs are a sumptuous setting for a few cocktails.

Over in the Central Business District, the 16 American-style craft cocktails served at 28 Hong Kong Street (placed 61st) are a tribute to the hip-hop and rap scenes of four distinct regions – East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and Dirty South. Take your taste buds on a tuneful journey from dark rum creation Hittin’ Switches to the whisky, coffee and an oatmeal stout concoction that is Czech the Method. Ordering some US-style bar snacks, such as the deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls, is highly recommended. 

Regent Singapore Manhattan

For a New Take on the Term ‘Locally Sourced’

When mixologist master Vijay Mudaliar needs inspiration, he simply goes foraging. Number 12 on the list, Native is all about hyper-local, sustainable and strictly seasonal ingredients. Prepare for familiar flavours like mango, turmeric, cinnamon and less familiar flavours like weaver ants, soursop and salt-baked tapioca. The regional focus also means spirits are only sourced from Asian distillers, which means Indian whisky, Indonesian rum and traditional spirits like Sri Lankan arrack (coconut flower sap that’s aged in wood). Situated on Amoy Street, it’s in the heart of one of Singapore’s busiest eating and drinking enclaves.

Asian spices are also the order of the day at Nutmeg & Clove (number 90), where classic cocktails are given a Singaporean twist within a characterful Chinese shophouse on Ann Siang Hill. In fact, the bar is named after the crops grown in the plantations that once populated this part of town. Settle in among atmospheric dark timber panelling and medicine cabinets, and order a barrel-aged Singapore Sling that’s served in a mini trishaw – just one example of this bar’s fanciful glassware.

Native, Singapore

For Marvellous Martinis and More

Shaken or stirred, any bar on the top 100 list can serve up a mean martini and, coming in at 29th, Jigger & Pony has a whole menu dedicated to the classic cocktail. They keep the Asian odyssey going with a Japanese vodka martini that’s filtered through bamboo charcoal and mixed with rice vinegar. Each beautifully presented drink is a study in understated elegance, so have your camera at the ready for some seriously good-looking offerings.

Meanwhile, the highest placed bar in Singapore is the almighty Atlas at number eight, where more than 1,300 gins are just waiting to be made into martinis. The liquid library is so large, the bartenders rely on ladders to access the collection. With its opulent interior that pays homage to the Art Deco era and Europe’s grand cocktail lounges of the 1920s, this is also the perfect place if you have a craving for champagne. More than 250 different bottles of bubbly are being chilled at any one time, just ready and waiting for someone to pop the cork. 

Jigger and Pony, Singapore

For a Refreshingly Unusual Approach

In between writing books, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed ordering drinks. Pay your respects to the author at The Old Man on Keong Saik Road in Chinatown, where nine experimental cocktails are inspired by his literary works – like A Farewell to Arms that’s made with butter fat-washed gin, dry vermouth and sous-vide seaweed. The original bar opened in Hong Kong years ago, but this Singaporean sister had only been up and running a few months before being named 38th on the list. There’s no sign out front, so look for the pineapple lamp above the door before heading into the green, foliage-print interior and grabbing a spot at the communal T-shaped bar.

Another unmarked door is followed up with rows of unmarked apothecary-style bottles at hidden underground bar Operation Dagger (number 30). The idea is that by storing the spirits in uniform brown bottles, people come to each drink with no preconceptions and instead rely on their sense of smell and taste when presented with their cocktail. The minimalist interior – which includes a cluster of lightbulbs illuminating the exposed concrete space – ensures nothing distracts from the drinks. Even the menu keeps things top secret with only a vague outline of the ingredients contained in each creation. 

The Old Man, Singapore

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