MY SINGAPORE WEEKEND : JUSTIN BRATTON

Attractions | Written By, NOW!Singapore | December 15th, 2015

International TV host and actor, Justin Bratton, of Channel NewsAsia’s hit show The Big Idea, and most recently of travel show Bespoke (which airs on Okto in Singapore), will also become the new host of Channel NewsAsia’s show It Figures in 2016. Beyond the television screen, the Texan of mixed Burmese origin is a notable independent filmmaker and one of the directors of the Singapore Myanmar Film Festival. He is currently producing and starring in a new film in Bangkok with indie film team, Creation Circus. We find out what he mischief he gets up to when the weekend rolls around.

FeaturePhoto by MJ Suajan

Image Courtesy of MJ SUAJAN

Like most of us, I wait in giddy anticipation for the weekend. It’s the time of the week when my friends and I can let loose, relax and have the freedom to get creative. My Singapore weekend goes a little something like this:

Friday

I generally try to expend some creative energy before the weekend kicks into gear. This can mean polishing off some new film ideas, working on material for a TV show or just a quick brainstorm session with fellow artists like Alan Wong, Angelique Teo or Daphne Khoo. The conveniently located Oriole Coffee + Bar, nestled at Somerset 313, is a superb place for these get-togethers. They have great food (my go-to is the Cubano sandwich) and a solid happy hour, with one-for-one wine and beer. Most importantly, the coffee is superb! I suggest an outside table – people watching is always entertaining and it’s hard to find a better place to enjoy the eclectic range of Singapore’s inhabitants than the alfresco corridor at Somerset 313. And if you’re in luck, as I have been on only one occasion, you may bare witness to a real, live oriole swooping down to land on one of the outside tables.

It’s never a bad idea to get a workout in before your Friday night festivities and there is no better way to get the blood flowing than to run up hills. I’ll frequently head over to the scenic Fort Canning Park, near Clarke Quay, and take advantage of its massive green incline. When looking to the hilltop from street level, the task of making your way up to its peak can seem daunting… and for very good reason! ‘Daunting’ is exactly what this exercise is meant to be. But I assure you, when it comes to a quick workout, it’s hard to get more bang for your buck than chugging up that hill a few times. Add on some push-ups and pull-ups at the bars just down the path and you’ll be all juiced up for when the sun goes down.

So… It’s Friday night! There are a multitude options in Singapore, but for me there is only one. I know exactly where I’m going and it’s a magical place where beer and cider flow like the water from the Merlion’s mouth. Here, the sound of throwback rock and hip-hop music plays all night long. The smell of mouthwatering burgers drifts from the kitchen out onto the road and the cheers of beer pong players celebrating the demise of their adversaries can be heard blocks away. This wonderland of happiness is no other than Third & Sixth Bistrobar (36 Seah Street). With its chilled-out atmosphere and reasonably priced beverages, this place checks all the boxes for me when the weekend rolls round.

MY SINGAPORE WEEKEND : JUSTIN BRATTON

Image Courtesy of TUN-AUNG

I’ll usually start off with their aptly named burger, The Messy Mexican. This burger alone will keep you coming back and the high volume of napkins you’ll need to mop up the mess is totally worth it. That being said, the entire menu is on the money and owner, Pio Pereira, keeps it deliciously original. Once I’ve got a burger in me, the games begin! Beer pong with friends consumes the evening, with its laughter, cheers and friendly competitive spirit. Third & Sixth has become a hot spot for my circle of compatriots – I don’t even need to tell anyone I’m coming, I can just show up, knowing that some of my buddies will be there. Once I arrive, the chances of me having the desire to go any place else are slim to none.

MY SINGAPORE WEEKEND : JUSTIN BRATTON

Image Courtesy of TUN-AUNG

Saturday

Sometimes I can feel a bit sluggish on Saturday morning, especially after a long evening of beer pong. I have managed to develop a pretty good remedy for this minor setback and it’s become a Saturday morning ritual for me. First, I jump in the pool. Then, I prepare some Vietnamese coffee and slurp it down. Once the cool water of the swimming pool has jump-started the circulatory system and the caffeine has ignited the adrenal glands, it’s time to get Saturday going.

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The first task is to get some grub. On the weekends, breakfast and lunch tend to take a backseat to brunch. I’m still not sure what brunch is, to be honest. Is brunch more of a lunch or a breakfast? Is it breakfast at lunchtime? Does a fermented (alcoholic) beverage at midday transform an ordinary meal into brunch? I have no idea, but I’ll end up going to brunch on most Saturdays, and a great place to do it is at Sarnies (136 Telok Ayer Street). The place is small but the flavour of the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on sourdough is huge. The menu features an array of western dishes with Sarnies’ own spin. With divine coffee, this is a top-notch brunch in my books!

Just because it’s Saturday doesn’t mean I can’t be productive. I frequently enjoy spending time writing at Pacific Coffee over at The Red Dot Museum (28 Maxwell Road). I know this cafe is part of a chain, but the place has some fierce coffee, really comfy chairs and ample power outlets. It’s the perfect environment to tune out the world, plug in the laptop and harness that creative energy.

After some worldly brilliance has been created, it’s time to start thinking about where to unwind with friends over drinks. This is usually a big night in Singapore – everyone is out and there are lots of people to see, meaning lots of stops are going to be made.

Haji Lane will usually get the go ahead from me. The street is jam-packed with hip bars and cafes, each with their own unique style. The clientele of the watering holes and eateries tend to spill out onto the street, which makes for a lively festival-like vibe. You can expect a fun-loving crowd walking about, hopping from one bar to the next to get their fill of different drink specials and live music.

One of my favorites stops is Going Om (63 Haji Lane). It’s a hippie cafe by day and a stylish laid-back bar by night. In front of this Himalayan inspired bar, you get to experience some great local artists flaunting their live music skills.

The next spot I’ll head to is the top of Ann Siang Hill. My new favorite place here is The Club (28 Ann Siang Road), a recently renovated boutique hotel with a choice of four bars and restaurants that are scattered about the premises. There is B28, an elegant whiskey and cigar lounge with live music, and Tiger’s Milk, a Peruvian rooftop bar. Granted, the Peruvian rooftop bar looks a lot like a regular Singaporean rooftop bar, but I’ll let that slide because no matter what you call it, it’s a fabulous place for a drink.

MY SINGAPORE WEEKEND : JUSTIN BRATTON

Tiger’s Milk at The Club. Image Courtesy of THE CLUB

If I’m still looking to keep the evening alive, Club Street is literally a stone’s throw from The Club. The street is slammed with some of Singapore’s more hardcore evening-outers and everyone has plenty of establishments to choose from. Whether you fancy a drink on the rooftop of Screening Room (12 Ann Siang Road), or one literally in the middle of the street at Drinks & Co. (44 Club Street), you’ll find it’s very easy to be entertained here.

MY SINGAPORE WEEKEND : JUSTIN BRATTON

Drinks & Co. (44 Club Street)

Sunday

I tend to wake up a bit later on Sundays. A wave of lethargy usually follows. Sunday is for straight up chilling. My area of town has a fair amount of foliage and sometimes I’ll just sit by the window with my coffee and watch the squirrels chase each other around. Less frequently, a colourful family of orioles will swoop in and brighten up the greenery with their bright yellow plumage. And, once a month or so, I’ll catch a glimpse of a hornbill perched on a branch watching the Sunday unfold below.

After a long weekend of roaming through Singapore, the best thing to do is stretch it all out, so I’ll head downstairs to the gym for yoga. If I’m feeling particularly optimistic about the day, I’ll even go for a quick jog. The rest of the day will usually consist of making a hearty salad at home and chilling out with a couple movies or a good book. I’m currently reading Shantaram, by David Gregory Roberts, which I highly recommend.

Emerald Hill

Emerald Hill. Image Courtesy of STB

No matter how much I tell myself that I just want to stay in for the rest of the day, the inevitable happens and on occasion, I fold. The phone does its little gyrating dance and I can’t help but see what the fuss is about. A typical conversation will go as follows:

Friend: “Yo dude! We’re getting drinks at Emerald Hill! Where are you?”

Me: “I’m not coming.”

Friend: “Bro we’re all here. Everyone is waiting for you.”

Me: “No they’re not.”

Friend: “You can walk here in five minutes from your place.”

Me: “I’m hanging up now.”

Friend: “It’s one-for-one dude.”

Me: “I’ll see you guys in five minutes.”

Emerald Hill’s convenient location along Orchard Road can be quite enticing. The ambience and the old world beauty of the shop-houses and palm trees make it a great spot to stop for a couple of drinks on a chilled-out Sunday afternoon. And that is how I’ll end a good weekend out in Singapore.

Written By Justin Bratton – Follow him on:

Instagram – @justin_bratton  

Twitter – @justinbratton6

Website – justinbratton.com

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