Over recent years, bars and clubs of all kinds have popped up all over our sunny little island. This roughly began with the launch of now veteran speakeasy cocktail bar, 28 Hong Kong Street (28 HongKong Street), in 2011. The concept and success of this award-winning bar attracted a surge in both local and foreign entrepreneurs to venture into the nightlife industry. Since then, we’ve been introduced to a plethora of new and exciting cocktail bars and speakeasies across town. There’s the largest selection of rums in Singapore at Sugarhall (102 Amoy Street), and a peerless choice of gins at Spiffy Dapper (73 Amoy Street). With over 110 and 130 varieties respectively, you know they mean business. For cocktail aficionados and whisky connoisseurs, La Maison Du Whisky (80 Mohamed Sultan Road, 01-10 The Pier) specialises in rare whiskies and niche spirits. We love their latest exclusive spirit, Napue, a gold-medal Finnish gin that achieved the coveted “Best Gin in the World” award at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. With its edgy, powerful notes of exotic spice, it makes a superb G&T as well as an excellent extra dry martini.
Craft beer bars have also jumped on the bandwagon, with local neighborhood watering hole The Cider Pit (the only place in Singapore to have a proper scrumpy; 328 Joo Chiat Road) and Japanese craft beer bar Jibiru (#01-26, 313@Somerset) paving the way in 2011. Joining the burgeoning ranks of craft ale bars are places like Druggists (119 Tyrwhitt Road), TAP (01-K1/K2 Capitol Piazza Galleria), and Smith Street Taps by The Good Beer Company (02-062 Chinatown Complex).
Last year, a string of new noteworthy cocktail bars spread over the island like wildfire: Aura Sky Lounge (05-03 National Gallery Singapore), Bar Vagabond (39 Syed Alwi Road), Gibson (Level 2, 20 Bukit Pasoh Road), Smoke & Mirrors (05-02 National Gallery Singapore), and Vasco (42 HongKong Street) – each of which pushed the envelope, elevating and educating the palates of the masses. More bars and lounges are slated to open this year, such as Blue Jacket Cigar Lounge by major industry player Massive Collective. While speakeasy cocktail bars may now be a dime a dozen, it’s where the major players have upped the ante that you’ll want to spend your night. Today, delivering excellent libations isn’t good enough – the food served alongside needs to be on par for an all-encompassing experience.
I recommend beginning the night at Adrift (Marina Bay Sands Tower 2) by Michelin-starred Chef David Myers. One cannot help falling in love with dishes like the beef tartare, the king crab melt and the parfait of raspberry – they may not scream at you from the bar menu, but order them anyway. When you tear yourself away from the food, move on to the drinks where you’ll be wowed by an extensive list of exemplary cocktails curated by legendary bartender Sam Ross. The Adrift Rum Old Fashioned is such – elegant notes of Black Sheriff rum swirl gently around the tongue amid smoky, citrusy undertones of maple that changes with each sip. His best work is done with Harajuku. Gorgeous aromas of Hibiki whisky are stirred into vintage aperitifs, the complex layering of flavours taken up a notch with a dash of chocolate bitters.
Another exceptional spot to start the night is Manhattan Bar (Regent Singapore) where you can get into plenty of trouble – fun trouble, that is. Whether it’s an off-the-menu classic or one of Philip Bischoff’s specialities, tipples here never fail to hit the spot. An Irish whiskey-based cocktail, Mad Dog, features an underlying dryness scented with smoked wild cherry bark, while Spectrum Punch piques the palate and the brain with a surprising alcoholic kick amid its refreshing fruitiness. Bar bites do not disappoint either. Chef Nick Trosien does splendid work with the food – a playful twist on classic scotch eggs are the Pork Pasties, battered with Manhattan’s signature Knickerbocker beer and deep-fried into a crusty ball of minced pork, potato and spices, wrapped around a soft centre quail egg. Also recommended are the Miso Cod Lettuce Wraps with crispy egg noodles and kimchi that add a delightful crunch and zing.
As the night draws on, you’ll want to hit the clubs. The grandfather of all clubs, Zouk Singapore (17 Jiak Kim Street) is no novice to the nightlife scene, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and attracting over 45,000 partygoers to its annual beach party, ZoukOut – one of the largest beach parties in Asia. The club has also bagged bragging rights for constantly being in the top ten of the DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs for the past six years.
Alternatively, go a bit off radar at kyō (B1-02 Keck Seng Tower), the only club in Singapore with regular DJ acts that bring the underground sound of techno and house from around the globe. Pumping with energy is Bang Bang (Level 1, Pan Pacific Singapore), which showcases the latest sounds of nu-disco, EDM, deep house, modern open-format and hip-hop from the top clubs in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
For glamorous partying and hedonistic indulgence, CÉ LA VI Singapore will show you how it’s done. One of the hottest nightlife spots in Singapore (they’re even packed on Wednesday’s Ladies Nights), this nightclub atop the SkyPark of Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands is (quite literally) the pinnacle of club experiences. With its music and entertainment helmed by Joshua Pillai, CÉ LA VI Singapore sets the record for having the largest resident DJ team in Singapore with 15 DJs, including internationally renowned DJ Spinbad from New York.
When you’ve partied till dawn, nothing quite hits the spot like dim sum at Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant (183-191 Jalan Besar) or steamboat at Hai Di Lao Hot Pot (04-23/24 313@Somerset), both of which are open until 6am. For a bit more spice, one of the few authentic Thai spots that operates round-the-clock is Diandin Leluk Thai Restaurant (01-67, Golden Mile Complex) where their pad thai, Tom Yam and green curry is sure to satisfy. If you’re hankering for more local favourites, there are ample choices open 24/7 – try roti prata at Al-Ameen Eating House (4 Cheong Chin Nam Road) or wanton noodles at Fei Fei Wanton Mee (62 Joo Chiat Place).
One of my personal favourite local supper spots is Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice (419 River Valley Road) that’s open till 5am daily. When in Singapore, do as the Singaporeans do. You can’t say you’ve had the full local experience until you’ve had chicken rice in the wee hours of the morning – you know it’s the right thing to do!
By Mandy Lynn
Marissa Trew brings us a round up of her favourite five