The best new bars and bar menus in Singapore this November 2023

This is your 2023 edit to the best new bars and bar menus in Singapore.
7 November 2023

This November, the Taiwan-based Draft Land brings its famed cocktails on tap to Singapore, and offers samples to try before you buy. Fura takes sustainability to the next level with vegan caviar bumps and jellyfish martinis, while Spectre looks at mental wellness through the prism of food and drink. Fresh after a renovation, MO Bar’s latest cocktail menu explores the past, present, and future of Singapore, and a highball that is very in tune with its name.

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Best new bars and bar menus in Singapore in 2023

November

draft land singapore
(Image credit: Draft Land)

Draft Land

Unlike most bars, there is not a shaker or stirrer in sight at Draft Land. Instead, all the cocktails at the Purvis Street drinking spot are dispensed from taps, like beer. Originally from Taiwan, the chain was founded by Taiwanese bartender Angus Chow, who wanted to make cocktails more accessible to consumers. Draft Land even lets you sample them before placing your order.

There are currently around 20 draught cocktails. Some are signatures from Taiwan, including Green Negroni with pandan and ginseng, and the cognac- and rum-spiked Afternoon Tea Punch. Draft Land also has a number of taps dedicated to specials drinks, such as creations by famed bartenders around the world.

Taiwan also inspires the food like braised pork arancini, Wagyu cold noodles, and Alishan milk tea gelato with gula melaka pearls and pecorino. While the space is cozy, Draft Land has a covered area to wait with a cocktail in hand, and they also sell them in takeaway cups.

24 Purvis St, Singapore 188601. Book here.

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From left: Caviar Papi and Garibaldi at Fura (Image credit: Fura)

Fura

Any cocktail bar worth its salt has some kind of sustainable practices baked into its operations, but Fura moves the goalposts much further. Opened by former Noma chef Christina Rasmussen, and Empirical Spirits Asia brand manager, Sasha Wijidessa – she also helmed Operation Dagger – the bar focuses on ingredients that have low carbon emissions and are widely available in nature.

This approach come in distinct forms. Fruits not perfect enough to be sold are turned into cocktail ingredients, and also fermented into alcoholic beverages similar to wine. Instead of caviar, which requires significant energy to produce, Fura substitutes it with black garlic spheres, which brought a sweet nutty burst to the Caviar Papi cocktail. Then there are invasive creatures like jellyfish, which ends up in a Martini.

Perhaps the most provoking thing at Fura is not yet on the menu. Certain items have brackets next to them hinting that crickets and mealworms are coming soon, and the bar also plans to introduce ants. These ingredients are currently sitting in jars waiting on government approval, but for the moment, drinking at Fura already feels like ten steps into the future.

2nd floor, 74A Amoy Street Singapore 069893. Book here.

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MO Bar (Image credit: Mandarin Oriental, Singapore)

MO Bar

The Mandarin Oriental hotel has undergone an extensive refit, which included its award-winning MO Bar. Along with the refreshed look, the bar also has a new head bartender in Charlie Kim, and a new cocktail menu.

While the four previous menus circled the globe in search of inspiration, Kim decided to turn the attention back to Singapore. This plays out over three themes, from the nostalgia-tinged Vintage Vision to the “what if ” of Future Facades. There is also Skyline, or the bar’s column of highballs.

From the Modern Landmarks section, Singapore’s position just off the equator is marked by One Degree North, which complemented its fruity apple flavour with the grippiness of oolong tea. Under Future Facades, Elysium cocktail is a Wet Martini that uses leftover bread and wine from the hotel. But the most striking part about it was the glass, which jutted precariously out of a marble block. “It gives a lot of people anxiety,” Kim said. “It sobers them up.”

Like its name suggests, Skyscraper towered over everything else on the table. The Ramos Gin Fizz variant had a generous head of creamy foam, and was brilliantly blue and fruity with coconut and rambutan. Arriving in a traditional cup and saucer, Kopi Siew Dai was almost pedestrian compared to other more remarkable creations, but the combination of coffee, walnut, dandelion tea, and cereal milk recalled the carefree times of youth. “It’s like when you make a bowl of cereal, come back 30 minutes later, and the cereal is soggy,” Kim said. “But the milk is delicious.”

5 Raffles Ave., Level 3, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore 039797. Book here.

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Hathaway cocktail at Spectre (Image credit: Spectre)

Spectre

After taking baby steps at the F&B concept incubator, Ghostwriter, Spectre has matured into a permanent home along Tanjong Pagar Road. The bar was founded by Beam Suntory regional brand ambassador Andrew Pang, and musician Inch Chua as an avenue to explore mental wellness through food and drinks.

Like before, a server handed me a piece of paper on arrival to write down something: Spectre encourages you to fill it with your day’s worries, or something on your mind. A torch comes next to burn the paper as a symbol of erasing your concerns. Just don’t hold it so close to the flame as I did, which evaporated in a flash and singed some hairs on my finger.

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Bonseki cocktail, with mezcal and snake soup (Image credit: Spectre)

Other aspects of wellness are cleverly integrated into Spectre. Instead of a cocktail menu, someone brought over a traditional Chinese medicine box with drawers filled with rice, which held scents from citrus to umami. Choose one, and a fan appeared from another slot, which unfolded to reveal cocktails based on the aromas.

Under Umami, the 50 Shades of Grey cocktail is a sultry combination of vodka, dashi, and MSG. Leave the seaweed garnish in the drink, and it takes you deeper and deeper into a savoury headspace. From the Herbal section, Bonseki contained an actual snake. The Chinese consider the reptile as a health supplement when cooked into a soup, and here the broth is paired with mezcal, resulting in a warm cocktail with elements of ripe pineapple and smoked meat.

Bonseki paired wonderfully with a herbal soup created by Chua, which featured generous chunks of chicken in a clean, nourishing broth. She also does an excellent claypot rice, which had slabs of Chinese sausage perked up by sambal. When mental wellness tastes this good, there is no need for therapy.

120 Tanjong Pagar Road, #02-01 Singapore 088532. Book here.

October

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From Left: Imagine Dragon and Is This Love (Image credit: Potato Head Singapore)

Studio 1939 @ Potato Head

After the raft of bar closures along Keong Saik Road, Potato Head is one of the last bastions for cocktails in the area, and the venue is staying ahead of the game by revamping its cocktails in its drinking den, Studio 1939.

The new menu is titled Palette of Sounds, which is meant to convey how a bartender uses different drinks to express their art, like a painter with their colour board. Studio 1939 also weaves in lyrical influences, from the vinyl-like menu to cocktails named after songs and bands.

Start off with Imagine Dragon, a refreshing gin highball that is strikingly red like a dragonfruit, and drinks like you are sucking on a peach. Mambo Mia is a Negroni turned tropical with pineapple and pandan, while Ottis Rock delivers a chocolatey Old Fashioned.

If nothing catches the eye, there is always the Trust Your Bartender option. “If you don’t trust the menu, you can trust us,” said bar manager and head bartender, Kavish Hurrydoss. I asked for something like a dry martini, and I got a jackfruit-infused mezcal with Cointreau and dry vermouth. It was exactly what I hoped for: boozy and austere, with a touch of smoky and overripe flavours. Perhaps I might trust them with my credit card next.

36 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore 089143. Book here.

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(Image credit: Pullman Singapore Hill Street)

Pullman Singapore Hill Street

With the opening of Pullman’s latest property on Hill Street, the country now has two more hotel bars to slink into: Madison’s and El Chido.

On the ground floor is Madison’s, a New York-style deli that serves cocktails. Working with sourdough specialist Starter Lab, they offer deli favourites like a lox bagel and a rueben sandwich large enough for two. There are also American classics including mac and cheese, shrimp and mushroom grits, burgers, and a New York strip steak, plus milkshakes. Similarly, drinks are inspired by the city’s neighbourhoods, like the Brooklyn with fig and nutmeg-infused rye, and a Cosmopolitan made fiery with chilli padi.

Head up to their rooftop pool for El Chido. The venue wants to embody the Mexican word for “cool,” and does so with a swim-up bar and vibrant dishes of ceviche, nachos, tacos, and tostadas. The eight cocktails are just as spirited, such as the Mojito with bits of cactus, and the Coco Rico, a Piña Colada that layers on coconut rum, coconut butter, and coconut milk.

1 Hill St, Singapore 179949

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The Macallan Bar (Image credit: The Macallan)

The Macallan House

After a renovation, The Macallan has turned their Raffles Hotel boutique into The Macallan House. Instead of just walking into buy their bottles, you get the whole spiel of what The Macallan is to feel better about your purchase. While you are there, why not pick up The Macallan-branded tartan bag too?

The Macallan House Singapore does this by immersing visitors in the whisky making process. The copper walls are the same shade as their stills, and the flooring is made of actual sherry-seasoned oak casks. Once you smelled the bell jars containing the same scents as their whiskies and admire the fabric sculpture by local artist Tiffany Loy – naturally coloured, just like The Macallan – you might be tempted to spring for one of their limited edition single malts.

If you need to try before you buy, or require somewhere to ruminate over how much you just spent, The Macallan Bar* serves a number of these exclusive releases by the dram, as well as their core range. Classic whisky cocktails also demonstrate how they work in a mixed drink.

*The Bar is open from Wednesday – Sunday, 5pm to 8pm.

328 North Bridge Rd, #01-07/08/09/10 Raffles Arcade, Singapore 188719

September

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The Negroni-based What Do You Want?! cockail at Antidote (Image credit: Fairmont Singapore)

Antidote

Doctors have ruined alcohol for us, but we are heeding Antidote‘s advice when it comes to drinking. The Fairmont hotel bar has introduced a new menu called Cure-All, which taps on alcohol’s history as a health remedy. There are nine cocktails separated under three themes depending on who is writing your prescription.

Under Long Long Time Ago, Ancient Love Potion takes the traditional Chinese medicinal ingredient of roselle flower – thought to relieve high blood pressure – and combined it with baijiu, which head bartender Kingston Chin softened with dates. Served in a clay pot, the cocktail is floral and restorative, but the vessel’s deeply rounded sides and large ice cube made it cumbersome to drink.

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Antidote’s Pandan Everywhere cocktail (Image credit: Fairmont Singapore)

Drinks under the Grandma Says column follow the wise knowledge of the family matriarch, and Pandan Everywhere is a Malaysian granny’s fix for when you are sick. Here, the ubiquitous Southeast Asian plant is mixed with coconut fat-washed rum and gula Melaka, resulting in an aromatic and silky milk punch. The only thing missing was Chin serving it in drag, like an Asian Mrs. Doubtfire.

Today’s pharmaceuticals are all made in a lab, and it is fitting that the What Do You Want?! cocktail looks like a science experiment. Hailing from the Modern Times section, the rum Negroni is deconstructed into a row of beakers that billow smoke, then rebuilt in a glass. Curiously, it tasted like chocolate lemon, or a bright, fruity coffee. Under the same section, El Padrino comes with a capsule – do you swallow it, break it apart and snort it? – but the right answer is to let it dissolve in your mouth while sipping on the mezcal and smoked honey cocktail, and the pill changes the drink’s taste from tart and punchy to sweet. El Padrino also comes with a doctor’s note, but do not bet on it getting you out of work the next day.

80 Bras Basah Rd, Level 1 Fairmont, Singapore 189560. Book here.

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Kiss of Revival cocktail at Smoke & Mirrors (Image credit: Smoke & Mirrors)

Smoke & Mirrors

The last two menus at Smoke & Mirrors were based on art found in the bar’s home at the National Gallery, but for the third iteration, they went beyond their physical boundaries. Instead, the Real Art of Drinking: Volume III edition explored contemporary artistic endeavours including dance, movies, and cooking to create 12 highly whimsical cocktails.

Your mother may disagree, but tattoos are cool now, worthy enough for Smoke & Mirrors to turn body art into rice paper. Fortunately, they did not go for the dreamcatcher or the lower back butterfly, choosing instead to feature native American designs that cover Let’s Get Inked, a luscious and velvety New York Sour-style cocktail with bacon fat-washed bourbon, chilli-infused rum, and corn.

Writers are artists too, at least that is what we tell ourselves as we churn out another listicle. But Smoke & Mirrors looked to a piece of literature that is slightly more accomplished than ours for the Kiss of Revival cocktail. Based off “Snow White,” a bartender tipped in potion after potion into a mini cauldron, causing it to bubble vigorously. After a stir, it becomes boozy and tart, with tequila’s grassy funk awakening the senses.

1 St. Andrew’s Road, #06-01 National Gallery Singapore, 178957. Book here.

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Cocktails at The Lobby Lounge (Image credit: Intercontinental Singapore)

The Lobby Lounge at Intercontinental Singapore

With Singapore’s bar landscape growing ever more competitive, hotel lobby bars have to step up their game, which Intercontinental has done. The property has worked with bartender Jesse Vida of Cat Bite Club (see below) and Atlas fame to launch The Lobby Lounge‘s first full-fledged cocktail menu, which maps out the neighbourhoods around the hotel.

Like the lively districts near the bar, most of the drinks are boldly flavoured. The gin and strawberry Royal Rosales looks feminine, but has a distinct bite of pink pepper. Haji Paji, an agave-based highball, balances mezcal’s smokiness with tart grapefruit and absinthe. Flower Shop Sour, which has rum, arak, and coconut cream, starts floral and ends spicy. All the cocktails are priced at S$22++, which in today’s economy, is of great value.

The Lobby Lounge has also changed up their all-day dining menu to offer local dishes including Hokkien meePenang char kway teow, and laksa, which have generous portions of seafood. This is the Intercontinental, after all, and global fare is represented by the Hungarian-style Angus beef short rib goulash with sides of mashed potato and sour cream.

InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Rd, Singapore 188966. Contact 6825 1008 or email to book.

White Shades
(Image credit: White Shades)

White Shades

All spectrums of booze shine prominently at White Shades. Opened by Stay Gold Flamingo cofounder Bai Jiawei, the venue spans a four-storey Boon Tat Street shophouse and comprises of a ice cream parlour, cocktail bar, events space, and rooftop bar. “We want to show that we are not constricted by a regular cocktail bar concept,” Bai said.

There’s some form of alcohol on each level, starting with spiced rum coffee gelato and low-ABV tea cocktails on the first floor, followed by conceptual cocktails on the second floor, such as the tequila-based Savi Galloping, which is smoked in a bell jar and meant to emulate the dust stirred up by the bar’s construction, and Bomber J, which takes after the bartenders’ broad-shouldered uniform. These cocktails will eventually be replaced by new creations based on different colours.

The top floor houses White Shades‘ rooftop bar. The potency of the drinks here sit in between the offerings from the first and second levels, and are meant to be summery, like the vodka and elderflower liqueur Rooftop Garden cocktail, which dispenses from the tap. White Shades only opens the third-floor events space when there is something happening, but a Maker’s Mark whiskey pop-up happening there on 22 and 29 September 2023 is a peek into how they transform the starkly white space into something appropriate.

25 Boon Tat St, Singapore 069622. Book here.

August

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(Image credit: Anthology)

Anthology

Barrel-age your own spirit and drink it there too at Anthology. The new venue is opened by local spirits company Compendium, and houses their cask-ageing programme along with a bar, restaurant, and members-only lounge.

Spread across a three-storey shophouse on Circular Road, the ground floor is Anthology’s modern-retro bar and restaurant that spotlight Compendium’s entire range. The brand does not do beer on tap – instead, they have sparkling fermented beverages made from rice, sugarcane, honey, and coconut, the latter being slightly saline and very invigorating. These drinks can also be ordered with Compendium’s sojus, somaek-style.

The signature cocktails were created by brand and beverage director, Dannon Har, who also runs the home bar Section D. Teh-groni has the dry finish of black tea and a grassy, herbal note similar to chin chow, while Meadmosa dials down the sugary brunch staple with pomelo juice. Using Compendium’s Rojak Gin and pink peppercorn, the zesty Rojaktini is an excellent companion to a mixed salad of ginger flower and turnips soaked in the same spirit, and a crab salad with ginger crisps and jellied chicken broth.

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Barrels at Anthology’s cellar (Image credit: Anthology)

Anthology’s upper levels are where Compendium’s expertise lies. Since 2022, the brand has offered their Chartered programme, which lets people customise their own spirits and flavours, then barrel-age it. These casks are stored in a climate-controlled room on the third-floor – bafflingly, they call it a cellar – and some are tapped to let owners sample their creations as they mature.

For people keen to join Chartered, master distiller Simon Zhao will conduct an introductory session on Anthology’s second-floor private lounge. The lounge will also have bartenders to help members draw their spirits out of the barrels and create cocktails based on them. For the rest of us, it is back to the first floor where tasting flights of Compendium’s spirits await.

10 Circular Road, Singapore 049366

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(Image credit: Level33)

Level33

As the world’s highest microbrewery, Level33 naturally harnesses its star product for its refreshed cocktail menu. Bar manager Thomas Sobota has created five craft beer cocktails – rarely seen within Singapore’s shores – that show how it can be more than just a standalone beverage.

The easy-drinking Blond-ie combines Level33’s blonde lager with dark rum and lemonade, while Duncan is an Espresso Martini made toasty with stout. The dark beer also finds its way into Three Porters together with the IPA and whiskey, and Ale from the Bay builds the IPA’s bitter profile into a Negroni-like drink. Taking cues from a French 75, Flair from Paris marries Level33’s wheat beer with lychee liqueur, crème de cassis, berry, and champagne.

8 Marina Blvd, #33 – 01 Tower 1, Singapore 018981. Book here.

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From left: Rose Rosé I Love You, Champion Highball (Image credit: Sugarhall)

Sugarhall

For a bar with “sugar” in its name, Sugarhall‘s new drinks miss the mark completely. The rum-focused English-style pub has introduced their latest cocktail menu titled “Not Too Sweet,” which feature six grownup interpretations of childhood favourites such as root beer, bubble tea, and Ribena.

“The team realised that we don’t often indulge in these drinks that we loved while growing up because they’re ‘too sweet,’ ” said assistant principal bartender Edward Koh. “So, we took on the challenge of creating cocktails featuring the flavours we love that are suitable for more refined and adult palates.”

But it is more sophisticated than adding alcohol and making it siew dai. Instead, Sugarhall stripped these drinks down into their most recognisable parts, and then reconstructed them in an entirely original form.

Bandung becomes the tequila-based Rose Rosé I Love You, which drinks like a fruity, high-acid sparkling wine with the fragrance of rose and a velvety texture. Milo morphs into the Champion Highball, completely transparent rather than murky brown, with rum, honey malt, and three kinds of cacao – painted inside of the glass in the vein of Jackson Pollock – evoking its signature toasted chocolate character.

sugarhall
Sugarhall’s Indomie, with fried pork belly, sambal matah, and fried egg (Image credit: Sugarhall / Facebook)

Moderation also extends to Sugarhall’s other new sections. Under Not Too Fancy, the Pornstar Martinez plays to the Instagram crowd by turning the classic cocktail’s bubbly element into a popping candy lollipop. From Not Too Funky, the Jungle Sunbird gently introduces drinkers to high ester rums – they can taste like a mix of overripe pineapple and nail polish remover – by pairing it with the complementary flavours of ondeh-ondeh, pandan, and gula Melaka. For people whose taste leans traditional, Not Too Classic puts a subtle spin on a Daiquiri with the slight sourness of umeshu.

Sugarhall has changed up their food offerings too. This time, the taste is predominantly Asian, ranging from fried vegetable momo with lime yoghurt and gunpowder spice, and honey char siu with gochujang aioli. But Indomie steals the limelight by using the same springy instant noodles with fried pork belly, fried egg, crispy shallot, and sambal matah.

19 Cecil St, Level 2, Singapore 049704. Book here.

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Verandah Bar at PS.Cafe Ann Siang Hill (Image credit: PS.Cafe)

Verandah Bar

PS.Cafe has debuted the Verandah Bar in the attic of their Ann Siang Hill outlet. It is inspired by New York speakeasies – apparently, speakeasies now announce their location to the whole world – and done up in the chain’s style of high-contrast British colonial style with lush palms and views of Chinatown.

The bar’s house cocktail is the Verandah Fizz, composed of PS.Cafe’s Verandah Gin, coconut, lemon grass, and pandan leaves, backed by a gin-heavy spirits menu with complimentary Fever-Tree mixers. But the free-flow truffle fries is the winner. Every Thursday, Verandah Bar serves unlimited portions of the PS.Cafe signature with the purchase of a S$98++ bottle of champagne. On Saturday, they offer one-for-one promotion on a glass of prosecco (S$17++).

45 Ann Siang Road, #02-02, Singapore 069719. Book here.

July

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Pineapple Coffee Fire (Image credit: Cat Bite Club)

Cat Bite Club

The birthplace of agave and rice are separated by the Pacific Ocean (or three continents depending on how you read a map), but they find a home at Cat Bite Club. It is, however, a sly abode: the bar is squeezed into the back of Monument coffee shop, and heavy veils discourage curious walk-ins. Only a grinning Cheshire cat sign confirms you are in the right place.

Cat bite’s marriage of agave and rice spirits was prompted by former Atlas bartender Jesse Vida and Gabriel Lowe, previously of Paradise Lost in Bangkok. The duo developed the idea after moving to Asia in 2018 where they were exposed to rice-based alcohol such as soju, sake, and baijiu, and decided to pair it with agave spirits like tequila and mezcal, a category they were familiar with from their time bartending together in San Francisco. They settled on a cat as a mascot – in particular, the feline from “Alice in Wonderland” – to evoke the sense of someone discovering these drinks. “We wanted to have this spirit of wonderment and exploration,” Vida said. “At the same time, a little naughty and curious.”

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(Image credit: Cat Bite Club)

Like any self-respecting agave bar, Cat Bite has a Margarita on the menu, a lush, salty number with an extra shot on the side. Rice spirits currently do not have a defining cocktail, so the bar aspired to create one in the Soju Sprint, a fizzy drink that combines the funk of Brooklyn-born, Chungcheong-based Tokki soju with the sweetness of peach.

Cat Bite also lists five classic cocktails with two variations under each one, made either with agave or rice spirits. Inspired by the Floradora, the sake-based Green Acre is appropriately fresh with mint, fennel, and sharp horseradish. Helped along by soju, watermelon, and coriander, Bitter Rind is what a Negroni should be, not cloying but dry and bittersweet, almost woody. From the Espresso Martini, you get three emojis that ride in an elephant, or what Vida more eloquently called, “Pineapple Coffee Fire.” Similar to a spicy Piña Colada, the cocktail features Ceylon arrack, which I thought came from coconuts, but apparently not. “No one is really sure what arrack is made of,” Vida said. “Sometimes it’s rice.”

On the back bar stood rows of various tequila and mezcal brands, some clear, others deeply caramel. Most hail from Mexico, but Lowe pulled out two bottles from India. These spirits will eventually be offered in tasting flights, and Cat Bite also plans to increase their rice liquor selection. “Just like how you would find tequila in any bar, we hope that in the future you can find rice spirits too,” Vida said.

75 Duxton Rd, Singapore 089534

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Jungle Ballroom’s head bartender, Adrian Besa (Image credit: Mondrian Singapore Duxton)

Jungle Ballroom

Welcome to the jungle, if the jungle was a buzzy hotel and its inhabitants modish and young. Sprouting from inside Mondrian Singapore Duxton, the mood is dark and hedonistic, the cocktails are flamboyant, and the bartenders are having an infectiously good time.

Chief instigator is Adrian Besa, previously of MO Bar, who told us to picture the menu as if we were parachuting into the woods. “First, you see the canopy, then you see the understorey, and then you land on the forest floor. Turn left, and you’re in the ballroom.” And at which point should I expect to get dengue fever?

Instead, it is the Neon Ballroom cocktail that is electrifying, literally. As white rum, champagne, mango, and rosemary were poured into a flute, an ice cube-like object inside started glowing, which Besa later explained was a liquid-activated light. The description encourages you to taste the light, this time as a metaphor for its zesty, tropical fruit character with light, grassy hints.

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The Roof of All (Image credit: Mondrian Singapore Duxton)

NParks recommends that people should maintain a distance away from wildlife, but Jungle Ballroom shoves you right in front of a ferocious animal. Fortunately, How Doth the Little Crocodile poses no danger except to art – you get to fold the reptile origami-style, and I mangled mine. For all its childlike fun, the gin-based drink was surprisingly serious, pairing smoke with medicinal notes.

Equally brooding is The Root of All… As smoke poured out from the agave spirit, banana, and pineapple cocktail, bartender Chris Saw quipped, “I call it vape juice.” It is earthy and herbal, reminiscent of traditional Chinese medicine, soothed by a garnish of chocolate soil and banana mochi.

Like all good ballrooms, the bar has a queen, and it is Sheena. The comic book character appears on a rice paper garnish in the Queen of the Jungle, made regal by rye, Italian bitter liqueur, and walnut. It was velvety and herbaceous, also strong enough to make you swing from the trees. Fortunately, there were none.

16A Duxton Hill, #03-03, Singapore 089970. Book here.

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Four Seams (Image credit: Mixology Salon Singapore)

Mixology Salon

As a cocktail destination in Asia, tea-based tipples are strangely lacking in Singapore’s drinking landscape. Mixology Salon wants to change that. Premium varieties of gyokuro, hojicha, and oolong are given as much priority as alcohol, and every drink has tea in it, even a non-alcoholic beer greened with matcha.

The bar is an offshoot of a Tokyo drinking den with the same name. Founded by Shuzo Nagumo, the original Mixology Salon has been named as one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, and Nagumo has since expanded his empire in Japan to six concepts. Singapore is his first international location, which is overseen by Nagumo’s protégé, Kaoru Takii.

In a brilliant marketing move, intentional or not, the bar calls its low-alcoholic cocktails “tea-tails.” In the Hoji tea-tail No.2, Shizuoka-grown green tea makes up the bulk of the drink, layered over with vintage port wine, cognac, and cassis liqueur. Takii advises to first taste the drink without swirling, and it offers the scent of dark fruits with a dry finish. Now swirl, and the drink completely transforms into a rich and luscious sipper.

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Tea-tail (Image credit: Mixology Salon Singapore)

The Signature Tea Cocktails Course tasting menu lets you see the world according to Mixology Salon. It ranges from three to five preset drinks, which can be swapped out for others if you had them before. But the Sencha Gin Tonic should be considered de rigueur. It has a delicate balance of earthy and bittersweet flavours, and is a fine example of the bar’s deftness with tea extraction.

Other classic cocktails do not escape Mixology Salon’s attention. Japanese Tea Espresso Martini has sencha, matcha, and gyokuro varieties, which are incorporated using redistilled vodka and infused gin. For a drink with zero coffee, its dark roasted notes is baffling yet intriguing.

For the pinnacle of tea culture, the bar serves a gyokuro cocktails course of four drinks made with the highest grade of green tea. They also sell spirits from rum to whisky that are infused or redistilled with different teas. “As mixologists, we can share the knowledge and history of tea, and update tea culture for people today,” Takii said.

1 Nanson Rd, #02-07B InterContinental Robertson Quay, Singapore 238909. Book here.

June

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(Image credit: FiftyFive Coffee Bar)

FiftyFive Coffee Bar

Cafes are typically dead spaces in the evening, but FiftyFive joins a growing pool of coffee joints who turn into a bar at night. Working with a local cocktail consultant, they came up with seven drinks inspired by Singaporean oil painter Liu Kang’s “Boats,” whose work currently hangs in FiftyFive’s loft. The cocktails are all bubbly and named after the seas: the sparkling sake-based Atlantic is perfumed with lavender and merlot grape juice, while Mediterranean is characteristically briny with olive, apple cider, and prosecco. A fine place to go if you prefer your drinks lighter and more suitable to pair with elegantly flavoured dishes like scallop and truffle cappellini and chirashi don.

55A Neil Rd, Singapore 088892. Book here.

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(Image credit: Joo Chiat Oyster House)

Joo Chiat Oyster House

Like FiftyFive, Kings Cart Coffee is another cafe that doubles as a drinking den. In their case, it is an oyster bar serving fresh bivalves from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture. They come in guises from plain to baked, and are ideal to knock back with Singapore-influenced cocktails like East Coast Plan (Hendrick’s gin, mint, lime, and prosecco) and cold brew highball spiked with gin, curaçao, and pineapple juice. There are heavier tipples too, from the Not So Old Fashioned modernised with cardamom seeds, star anise, and gula Melaka, to the rum-based Solero, a play on the vanilla ice cream brand. Every Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 7pm, Joo Chiat Oyster House has a happy hour where house spirits and selected wines by-the-glass start at S$10 each.

328 Joo Chiat Rd, #01-05, Singapore 427585

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Lucky Courage (Image credit: Live Twice)

Live Twice

Live Twice’s star is on the rise. They Jigger & Pony Group establishment was recently recognised as one of the best cocktail bars in Asia Pacific, and secured the 65th spot on the extended list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022. But the bar is not sitting still. They recently hired a new bartender, David Kim, and launched their latest cocktail menu with seasonal specials. The drinks under the inaugural category celebrate Japan’s four seasons, such as the spring rain in Primrose (Macallan 12 yo Sherry Oak Whisky, sage and dill liqueur, and sandalwood tincture), while the summer sun shines brightly in Solaris, a cocktail made umami by tomato cordial and tare distillate. Like Jigger & Pony, Live Twice also sees fit to refine the classic Whiskey Cocktail into the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, which is polished with maraschino cherries and a touch of Tatsumi Distillery Absinthe.

18-20 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089834. Book here.

best bars in Singapore
Image credit: Ume San 100)

Ume San 100

Speakeasies behind vending machines are not new, but Ume San 100 brings a plum-flavoured perspective to the old idea. Behind a row of Japanese vending machines in Fortune Centre is a bar with the largest collection of umeshu in town, all hailing from from the liquor’s birthplace, Wakayama Prefecture. There are varieties from light and sweet to rich and earthy, which can be enjoyed neat and in cocktails like Pot De Fleurs (umeshu, vanilla liqueur, cocoa powder, and elderflower syrup), and Sea Garden (gin, genever, lime, prosecco, butterfly pea flower, and edible fairy dust). More styles can be sipped through the bar’s 30-plus umeshu highballs and the extensive Umeshu Bible.

190 Middle Rd, #02-07 Fortune Centre, Singapore 188979

best bars in Singapore
Neon Pigeon Sling (Image credit: A.I. Jin / Neon Pigeon)

Neon Pigeon

Neon Pigeon has unveiled a new member of their flock in Mario la Pietra. The former St. Regis Hong Kong bartender is now responsible for drinks at the restaurant and bar, and he has taken to the task like a duck to water with a menu serving both cocktail enthusiasts and teetotallers. Each creation indicates whether it is zero proof, half proof, or full proof, and the max strength She No Lychee is a serious vodka drink that mimics the fruit’s fragrance with Daiyame Imo Shochu 25, Sakura Vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and rose vinegar. For something with all the flavour and no alcohol, Calver San turns to Lyre’s Agave Spirit, yuzu, sancho pepper, hojicha, and olive brine for an earthy, slightly peppery tipple with a hint of sweetness. Epic Sized Pitchers like Rose Lah (pandan shochu, vodka, gin, lemon, red berries tea, and sparkling wine) also ensure that bigger groups can touch down here.

36 Carpenter St, #01-01, Singapore 059915. Book here.

May

best bars in Singapore
(Image credit: Elixir)

Elixir

Bukit Timah Cafe Elixir Coffee Roasters has reincarnated itself as Elixir, a restaurant and bar at Holland Grove. During the morning, they serve brunch items like brûléed French toast and Ozzies – avocado, pickled tomato, and dukkah, while the afternoon offers a shaved cheese called tête de Moine with poached apricot and fried walnut, and baby octopus fritters with black aioli. Sourdough pizzas are also a highlight, including the signature Not-carbonara, and Hot Mama with spicy Calabrese salami and house-made chilli crisp. To drink, the tight wine list has eclectic bottles from Chandon Garden Spritz, a sparkling wine with flavoured with oranges, to a crunchy cabernet franc from Loire.

24 Holland Grove Rd, #01-18, Singapore 278803. Book here.

best bars in Singapore
(Image credit: Humpback)

Humpback

Seafood bar Humpback has breached the surface after a two-month long renovation. Compared to the previous iteration, the new Humpback is slicker and more diverse in its food and drinks offering. Led by chefs Alynna Tan and Joseph Teoh, oysters are still a mainstay, with three varieties ranging from crisp to briny and sweet, while snacks, small plates, and large plates are illuminated by deeply savoury house-cured hamachi pastrami, and a scintillating white asparagus with blue crab and white miso, and marble goby with roasted broccolini and juicy, sake-cooked mussels. The 60-plus strong wine list reads like a Spotify playlist, with It’s (Almost) Always Sunny in Bukit Pasoh dropping breezy hits like a dry furmint from Hungary – more commonly used to make the dessert Tokaji wine – while Tingle My Palate fizzes with bubbly wines.

18-20 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089834. Book here.

best bars in Singapore
The Cave (Image credit: Low Tide)

Low Tide

Low Tide‘s new food and drinks menus are inspired by Southeast Asia’s rich heritage with a sprinkling of other sea-faring cultures including the Caribbean, East Africa, and Japan. At the street-level Top Side, nasi ulam is remixed with torched pineapple, coconut flakes, and pomegranate, and stingray is cooked with miso butter with grilled okra and curry assam, both joined by equally sunny cocktails such as a carrot and gin Colada, and Grape Intentions, a vodka martini with red grape cordial. Head inside and down into The Cave, where the tropical speakeasy has a menu of six cocktails by bars with similar leanings, including Bangkok’s Tropic City and Junglebird from Kuala Lumpur.

98 Club St, Singapore 069467. Book here.

best bars in Singapore
Citrus radish (Image credit: Spectre)

Spectre

Just upstairs from Low Tide is Ghostwriter, an F&B incubation space that lets restauranteurs and bartenders experiment with concepts for a month. For May, they play host to Spectre, a vintage apothecary bar with the Japanese approach of “kintsugi,”  a practice of putting broken pottery back together with gold and a metaphor for celebrating imperfections. The food is led by MasterChef Singapore finalist Inch Chua, who has come up with dishes such as Eurasian Feng – pork shoulder, dry curry, rice cracker, and pickles – ossobuco kueh pie tee, and smoked stingray pasta, while Beam Suntory Regional Ambassador Andrew Pang is responsible for cocktails like Retrospect, a martini with Benedictine D.O.M. and olive oil, and Lend a Hand, helped along by spiced rum, coffee liqueur, and orange.

98 Club St, 2nd floor, Singapore 069467. Book here.

best bars in Singapore
(Image credit: The Blackbird)

The Blackbird

After two years of pandemic absurdity – remember when we couldn’t have music in bars? – The Blackbird is a big return to lyrical normality. Founded by four people in the food, music, and arts business, the Gillman Barracks venue has a music lineup features a variety of genres, from classic tributes to funk, soul, and blues, performed by local musicians and bands. The menu offers straightforward Western-style cuisine and bar bites: think fresh onion rings, chicken wings, pizzas, and fish and chips, while the drinks menu has a wide selection of draft beers, cocktails, and wine.

8 Lock Rd, Singapore 108936. Book here.

April

Songs of the Red Sea (Image credit: Aniba)

Aniba

If the live action remake of “The Little Mermaid” needed a nightclub scene, Aniba is the ideal stage. The hallway is lined with iridescent scale-shaped tiles, and the stark contrast between light and dark sets the mood for a swanky deep-sea lounge. Of the 16 cocktails inspired by North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, highlights include the Negroni-based Sirocco with date-infused sweet vermouth, while Helena is a Martini made zesty and herbaceous by tarragon and grapefruit. The wine list is just as interesting for featuring bottles from Israel, including a silky red blend that Bin Nun Winery labels exclusively for Aniba.

6 Battery Road, Bonham St, #05-03 Private lift from Riverfront Entrance, Singapore 049909. Book here.

Occidental (Image credit: Atlas)

Atlas

Very few bars can match the grandeur of Atlas, and it is almost expected that its cocktails are just as opulent. Yet Atlas bravely dials back the pomp for its new Simple Pleasures menu. The latest offerings delve into four classic cocktails – the Martini, Sour, Old Fashioned, and Champagne Cocktail – with five drinks under each style ranging from Atlas’ version to modern interpretations. Under Sours, Ode To Odyssey simplifies the notoriously labour-intensive Ramos Gin Fizz by using egg white substitute while keeping it light and creamy, while Occidental enriches the Martini with limoncello. The bar pays just as much attention to non-alcoholic drinks, with Hope on the Horizon showing champagne is not always necessary when you have a vivacious yuzu-lavender kombucha.

600 North Bridge Rd, Parkview Square, ground floor, Singapore 188778. Book here.

(Image credit: Salt & Palm)

Salt & Palm

Joo Chiat gets even cooler with the opening of Salt & Palm. The venue was created by Mark and Natasya Soetantyo, two siblings who first opened in Sydney in 2018 before branching out here in March. Dishes include mushroom rendang, Balinese babi guling presented porchetta-style, and pandan coconut creme brûlée, while the wines range from a naturally-made pet nat chardonnay to a grippy Super Tuscan. Like the food, cocktails emphasise the Nusantara connection from spiked cendol to Kecup Manis, which tops pandan-infused rum and cold brew coffee with sweet soy sauce.

467 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427678. Book here.

March

(Image credit: Chifa!)

Chifa!

Asian immigrants in Peru gave the South American country more than just Nikkei food, as Chifa! demonstrates. The new concept at Resorts World Sentosa is named after the term for Peruvian-Chinese cuisine, which they have translated into dishes like yellowfin tamarind ceviche and wok-fried seafood XO aeropuerto (quinoa and jasmine rice with seafood and seasonal vegetables sautéed in XO sauce). To drink, Peru’s national spirit pisco is showcased in cocktails such as the ginger ale and passionfruit Chicano de Chifa, and with condensed milk in Leche de Monja.

Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Ave8, Singapore 098269. Book here.

Fish Pool (Image credit: The NCO Club)

Fish Pool

You can drink with the fishes once again at the refreshed Fish Pool. The NCO Club venue now has a list of cocktails inspired by the tropics and its surrounding elements. Ocean Inspiration takes cues from the sea with two kinds of whiskies, tropical house mix, and oyster saline tincture; while Mori Ne Geijutsu looks inland with junmai sake, orange liqueur, and sparkling fruit sake. There is also R&T Heights, a spirit-forward, clarified cinnamon rum- and tonic-based blend. The raw bar also has new seafood dishes featuring Asian, European, and Latin American flavours, and a nightly underwater performance by Singapore’s first mermaid performer, Syrena.

32 Beach Rd, The NCO Club, Singapore 189764. Book here.

From left: Honey Magnum and Ugly Tomatoes (Image credit: Jigger & Pony)

Jigger & Pony

Jigger & Pony marks its 11 years in operation with a cocktail menu titled Identity, which traces the evolution of Singapore’s best bar and muses about its future. Topics like sustainability are explored through the Ugly Tomatoes cocktail, which uses unsellable heirloom beefsteak tomatoes and mixes it with gin, and a house-made herbal liqueur called kummel. Local produce is also celebrated in Honey Magnum, featuring raw honey from a Singapore beekeeper, together with bourbon, strawberry wine, and beetroot. The drink is then aged in beeswax to impart a slicker texture.

165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Amara Hotel, Singapore 088539. Book here.

(Image credit: Samsu Huay Kuan)

Samsu Huay Kuan

Samsu gets its name from a moonshine-like Chinese rice liquor, but the alcohol here are slightly more refined. They carry an extensive range of independent bottlers of whisky and rum, as well as collectible and rare spirits from around the world. A recent lineup include special anniversary whiskies for Bar Tarlogie Sona in Osaka, and Kornog single malts from Glann Ar Mor distillery in Brittany, France. The goal, however, is to keep things approachable. “Sometimes, visiting a whisky bar can be a daunting experience with lots of bottles to choose from,” said founder Jeremiah Kee. “We have kept prices affordable and accessible for all who are curious.”

100 Orchard Rd, #02-33 Concorde Hotel & Shopping Mall, Singapore 238840. Book here.

February

Pandan Grasshopper (Image credit: Sarai)

Sarai

Fine-dining Thai restaurant Sarai has revamped itself with a new food menu, interior, and bar programme. Helmed by Chimkit “Lisa” Khamphuang, the à la carte and tasting menus draw upon dishes popular among the Thai royal family such as deep-fried wagyu beef with sticky rice, dried prawns and wild ginger wrapped in betel leaves, and roasted duck soup with young coconut and shiitake mushroom. For drinks, different regions of Thailand are represented by nine cocktails such as the Pandan Grasshopper (rum, peppermint liqueur, pandan, and coconut milk) and Floating Market (vodka, caramel, calamansi, and chocolate).

163 Tanglin Rd, #03 – 122 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933. Book here.

The Martini (left) and The Memory (Image credit: Underdog Inn)

Underdog Inn

Underdog Inn rides on its dark horse appeal to upend Singapore’s bar scene. Opened by the same people behind Low Tide, Sago House, and Ghostwriter, the venue took over previous tenant Burger Bar, kept its 18 taps, spruced up its New York tavern interior, and added open hearth cooking. Chefs Peter Smit and Graeme Goronovsky are responsible for nose-to-tail dishes like pig’s head scrumpet and bone marrow mash, while bartenders Jay Gray and Lee Rizali are serving 12 cocktails on draught including Martini and Old Fashioned, which can be adjusted to taste. The rest of the taps are taken up by six beers on rotation, and they also have a tight list of French and Italian wines.

115 Amoy St, #01-03, Singapore 069935. Book here.

(Image credit: Wildfire Burgers)

Wildfire Burgers

Wildfire Burgers slowly spreads around Singapore with its third location at Robertson Walk. Replacing Lil’ Tiger, the newest branch serves crowd favourites like the Classic 001 cheeseburger and The Eggstarter, as well as two new dishes: chargrilled Argentinian grain-fed Angus striploin and chopped Caesar salad.  What the latest outlet does differently is offering a bar programme. The venue has cocktails like Mezcal Negroni and Daiquiri in a one-shot format for S$9++, or in a flight of six for S$48++. Full serves are also on the menu, as well as highballs, craft beer, and American wine.

11 Unity St, #01-07, Singapore 237995, Book Here

January

Oyster and Champagne Bar (Image credit: Capella Hotel Singapore)

Chef’s Table: Oyster and Champagne Bar

Capella has revamped its private dining space, Chef’s Table into the Oyster and Champagne Bar. With wicker furniture, copper pots, and a raw bar, it resembles a bistro in an expensive home.

The concept allows diners to try five kinds of oysters side by side. Of the three French Fine de Claire varieties, the balanced and mild Vertes separate the assertive David Hervé from the delicate Saint Kerber. Irish Kelly oysters are fatter, and Canada’s Fanny Bay has a quiet tang.

Russian, French, and Chinese caviar can also be sampled back to back. Chef’s Table supervisor Marie Pusung described them in terms of a film. “The Kaviari is like an action movie, while the Oscietra is a love story. The Sturia Vintage has a bit of both.”

Available by the glass, Roger Coulon Heri-Hodie Premier Cru is a non-vintage champagne that mixes aromas of marzipan and green apple with a sharp finish. Another popular option is the Jean-Louis Vergnon’s Eloquence, which offers notes of red apple and almond, plus a hint of umami. The latter is sumptous with items from the Chef’s Reserve Platter, especially rich Japanese sea urchin and intensely sweet Alaskan king crab legs.

1 The Knolls, Singapore 098297. Book here.

Crab relleno, aligue sauce, and kaffir lime, which is part of Lolla’s current seasonal tasting menu (Image credit: Lolla / Facebook)

Lolla

Last November, Lolla collaborated with Denmark-based Empirical Spirits on a cocktail pairing for their seasonal tasting menu, which was successful enough that the restaurant decided to list four of them as their signature cocktails.

Created by Empirical brand manager and Operation Dagger alumni Sasha Widjidessa, the drinks do not adhere to any classic cocktail template. Instead, ingredients are incorporated with culinary techniques such as sous vide. With a plum-based spirit, Peas Please recalls flavours of marzipan, yuzu, and basil, which sit nicely with salads and parmesan. You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato is built on a Mexican chilli spirit, and its smokiness cuts through buttery dishes like Lolla’s signature sea urchin pudding.

Made with the same chilli spirit, Lolla Luau is reminiscent of charred pineapple. Drunk alongside a river crab cooked in coconut milk and garnished with kaffir lime leaf, the combination is similar to tom yum soup. The Last Straw-Berry has a fruity, bubblegum-like aroma, but grows serious thanks to an oily texture, and aromas of apple zest and vanilla.

22 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069702. Book here.

Manakin and Serenity (Image credit: Lumo)

Lumo

Modern European restaurant Lumo‘s latest cocktail menu took cues from colours that evoke certain emotions. Part of the blush red ruga hue, Manakin is a spicy and smoky number with mezcal, tequila, and bird’s eye chilli, while Serenity under the azure-leaning blua inspires calm through chamomile-infused Chita whisky, chamomile tea, and thyme-infused honey. All the cocktails are built with sustainability in mind, with most ingredients used entirely to show “respect and appreciation” for them, said head bartender Aaron Lancelot.

50 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058682. Book here.

Play Well (Image credit: Shangri-La Singapore)

Origin Bar

Nostalgia is always nice in hindsight – can we go back to 2022 and seven percent GST? – and Origin Bar at Shangri-La hotel doubles down on this sentiment with 18 new drinks inspired by time travel. From 1860, the minty and fruity Chicle celebrates the creation of chewing gum, and Atomico marks the invention of the nuclear bomb in 1942 by fusing rum with yuzu, sake, and wasabi. Drinkers can also go back to the very beginning of life with Dark Matter, which combines tequila, amaro, chocolate, and smoke into a complex and intense sip.

22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350. Book here.

Africa and Singapore (Image credit: Papa Doble)

Papa Doble

Papa Doble is in a strange place. The bar went from being The Old Man Singapore to its current moniker early last year, kept its former offerings, got on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list under its new name, refreshed its entire team, and launched a new cocktail menu over Christmas 2022. Even founder Andrew Yap admits it. “Even till this day, Papa Doble remains in a state of partial opening.”

The bar still pays tribute to Ernest Hemingway, this time by retracing the literary giant’s journey through eight signature cocktails. A visit to Singapore is represented by a gin drink with DOM Benedictine, clarified pineapple, and pomegranate coulis, while Thailand is symbolised by chamomile-infused single estate vodka, clarified starfruit, torched ginger-infused honey, and fleur de sel. Other stops include Africa, France, Bahamas, and Italy, with vastly different ingredients from mandarin dijon foam to mascarpone gelato cream.

55 Keong Saik Road, #01-04, Singapore 089158. Book here.

Funky Monks by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson (Image credit: Tippling Club)

Tippling Club

Playing all the greatest hits from the 40s to the 90s is Tippling Club, which has created a jukebox of cocktails based music from the past six decades. Laid down by head bartender Arathorn Grey, the 31 drinks are named after an artist and their song, with ingredients telling their stories. Learnin’ The Blues by Frank Sinatra features the crooner’s favourite spirit, Jack Daniel’s, as well as amontillado sherry and amaro, of of which are barrel aged in an ex-ruby port cask. There’s also Funky Monks by Red Hot Chili Peppers, which highlights punchy agricole rhum with ginger and togarashi lime garnish.

38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088461. Book here.

This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia

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