A fresh wave of cocktail joints is shaking up the city-state
By Alison Marshall
Photographs by Lauryn Ishak
28 HONGKONG STREET Launched without fanfare or publicity, 28 Hongkong Street is deliciously discreet, with an unmarked doorway that is easily missed. Now that the word is out, however, don’t be surprised to find yourself waiting on the sidewalk for a table. Inside, the speakeasy vibe is more inclusive than exclusive, with friendly bar staff on hand to guide you through the regularly changing cocktail menu. A current favorite is the deceptively smooth Whore’s Bath: manuka honey– infused vodka, umeshu (a fruity Japanese liqueur), and Poire William eau-de-vie pulled back from being too sweet with Hawaiian lava salt and pickled ginger. After their first visit, customers are given a private number for future reservations, which only adds to the bar’s hush-hush allure (28 Hongkong St.; 65/6533-2001).
FAT COW Tippling in a medical center might sound a bit off-key, but it’s no deterrent to the city’s cocktail connoisseurs. Occupying an intimate space in the front of a Japanese-inspired steakhouse, the lounge at Fat Cow is making a name for itself with creative concoctions such as the Hot Buttered Ume, a rum-based drink that combines Zacapa 23 with plum syrup and rose-infused butter. It’s the only hot cocktail among a roster of specialties, which, like the adjoining restaurant, take their cues from Japan: a Shoga mule, anyone? (Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Blvd.; 65/6735-0308).
NÉKTAR Forget mixologists—Néktar, with its self-professed mission to “take cocktails to a new dimension,” dubs its drink makers “bar chefs.” Wordplay aside, there are some seriously inventive items on the menu, like the vodka-based Ketel Kurrie. A tribute to the herbs and spices of Southeast Asia, it features air-dried curry leaves and a sprinkling of saffron. Those looking for something sweeter should order the Néktar Club, a retooling of colonial Rangoon’s Pegu Club cocktail made with aged Sagatiba cachaça (Annex Bldg., 31 Scotts Rd.; 65/6836-9185).
JIGGER & PONY Named after the measuring device used by bartenders to pour spirits, this convivial space is a new fixture in the heart of Chinatown’s trendy drinking scene. Two dozen cocktails span the classics to those with a modern twist, like the Big Apple: a fruity combination of Calvados, Cocchi Americano, Grand Marnier, Campari, and orange bitters. Bartender Anthony Zhong (formerly of Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at Marina Bay Sands) is behind the eclectic mix. Should you be inclined to overindulge, a good selection of bar nibbles will help soak up the excess (101 Amoy St.; 65/6223-9101).
MAISON IKKOKU Small but sophisticated, the rooftop bar at Maison Ikkoku—it’s set above an edgy menswear boutique and café in Kampong Glam—makes for a cool roost on sultry nights. Extending onto a terrace that cheekily overlooks the gold-domed Sultan Mosque, the space is fun and relaxed as a good drinking den should be, and the cocktails are as artisanal as they come: try the passion-fruit caipirinha, or the Secret William Pear Garden, made with William pear liquer, gin, lemon, grape, and basil leaves (20 Kandahar St.; 65/6294-0078).
Originally appeared in the August/September 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Singapore’s New Mix”)