I love that Singapore is within convenient reach to India, and that I can hop on a plane and be transported to one of the world’s foremost cities within six hours. There is a thriving cocktail scene here, and the concept of bars and their menus is interesting. Each time I’m in Singapore for work, I usually plan it such that I spend a couple of extra days to take in some of the nightlife. Here are some picks that you must visit.
28 HongKong Street
It may not seem like anything from the outside, in fact you wouldn’t even know it existed unless someone told you about it. Set amidst a row of shophouses, there’s a lot of thought that has gone into 28 HongKong Street. The space seems to encourage conversation, and the bar packs a punch with its craft cocktails that use artisanal spirits and organic ingredients. Go there with your mates or go by yourself; you will definitely have a stellar time. I enjoyed the Double Barrelled Martinez, made from Bols barrel-aged Genever. They also have some of the best whisky-based cocktails. It is no wonder that 28 HongKong Street topped the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2016. Open Tuesday-Sunday 6pm-3am; tel: +65 6533 2001; 28hks.com
Jigger & Pony
Named after the old units of alcohol serving measure, Jigger (one ounce) & Pony (1.5 ounces) is eighth on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. It has an ambience that exudes a friendly and warm vibe, making it a great venue for after-office drinks. Part of it comes from the effortlessly simple, yet chic presentation of its 20 cocktails that vary from classics to vintage and signatures. The Last Word made with Tanqueray gin and Green Chartruese is simply brilliant, as is the classic Negroni, also gin-based. Its bartender, Boo Jing Heng, is the wizard behind these magical drinks, and has won the 2016 Diageo World Class Singapore Champion award at the Southeast Asia edition in Bali. Open Monday-Thursday 6pm-1am, Friday-Saturday until 3am; tel: +65 6223 9101; jiggerandpony.com
Maison Ikkoku (Bar)
A café and cocktail bar by night, Maison Ikkoku gets its name from a Japanese Manga (comic book) series. This space, with white brick walls and wooden flooring, is quite narrow, which means it can get crowded quickly during peak hours. Nonetheless, the casual watering hole and cafe is a friendly hangout joint, both in the day and at night. The cafe is on the lower floor and the bar on the upper level. The bar doesn’t have a fixed menu as it’s a bespoke experience with cocktails. However, the cafe has a wide variety of offerings — try Aeropress for its natural sweetness or Woodneck with mellowed down coffee acids.
Cafe is open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm, Friday-Saturday until 11pm, Sunday until 7pm; Bar is open Sunday-Thursday 4pm-1am, Friday-Saturday until 2am; tel: +65 6294 0078; maison-ikkoku.net
The only time I visited, it absolutely blew my mind. The ceiling has an outlandish cluster of light bulbs, in step with its equally unusual menu. Pink gin, banana wine, “chocoberry” and thyme pinot, and the malt-based toffee apple are some of the ingenious bottled drinks here. I opted for the dirty martini, and I can say this with conviction — it makes one of the best dirty martinis with green olives, juniper, hops, caramel and iced grapes. Operation Dagger is currently one of the hippest bars in Singapore, and the only way to decipher what its uniqueness is all about is to explore it yourself. Open Tuesday-Saturday 6pm until late; tel: +65 6438 4057; operationdagger.com
The Secret Mermaid
The design here is quite industrial and edgy with wrought iron, stonewashed walls, wood finish and a touch of yellow colour. What makes the bar special is the selection of American spirits, and The Secret Mermaid’s curated tasting flights are a great way to sample them. Beware though, for your curiosity may blind you into limiting yourself to just the tasting menu of America’s enormous craft spirit found here. I particularly enjoyed the rye whisky, which unfortunately isn’t very common, and some truly adventurous cocktails — salmon flavoured vodka being one. Also, you get one serving of delicious tater tots with each drink ordered. Open Monday-Friday 5pm-11pm;
[email protected]; thesecretmermaid.com
This place combines three exciting elements — whisky, cigars and live jazz. Located in the basement of The Club Hotel, it is any music lover’s haven. There is an upbeat energy here with a good mix of international jazz acts playing constantly, which is an excellent accompaniment to the whisky and Scotch collection available here. B28 also has a strong rum list that is perfect when looking to unwind after a long day. Open daily 6pm-12am, Friday-Saturday 10:30pm-1:30am; tel: +65 9298 8863; btwentyeight.com
Boasting the highest views in Singapore, 1-Altitude is a beautiful venue. It is the world’s highest open air bar at 282 metres above sea level. You get a view of Marina Bay Sands and ships that dot the ocean in the distance. It is a great place to take in a 360-degree view of Singapore. With an al fresco bar at the top, a signature Australian fine dining restaurant and a high-energy nightclub, all split up into three different levels, 1-Altitude, on top of One Raffles Place indulges you with some of the finest F&B offerings. No doubt it is a fun place to spend the evening for any sort of night you wish for — from a casual evening with colleagues or a wild party with friends. This is the place to visit if you would like to be seen rubbing shoulders with Singapore’s high profile residents late into the night. Open daily 6am-2am;
tel: +65 6438 0410; 1-altitude.com
Another place that has a fantastic view is LeVeL33. The “urban penthouse dining” space has its own craft-brewery with fantastic views of the Marina Bay area and city skyline. The contemporary interiors are built with a wooden finish, earthy colours and copper brewing kettles. Apart from its classic European offers, it has a special “beer dining” menu with 15 choices from corn fritters to seasoned chipotle. If beer isn’t your thing, it has an impressive wine list too, sourced from boutique wineries around the world. Open daily 11:30am-12am; tel: +65 6834 3133; level33.com.sg