Singapore’s bar scene is bigger and brighter than ever, and the celebration of the cocktail culture there is set to culminate in the Singapore Cocktail Festival taking place May 10 to 18. Expect an exciting lineup of appearances by award-winning bars, an artisanal spirit tasting room and a bustling street food selection to line your stomach. In conjunction with the festival, there will be bar tours, bar takeovers and more activities across the island.
In the meantime, check out these seven new cocktail bars bringing forth sensationally hip drinks.
Hong Kong’s celebrated Ernest Hemingway-themed bar has opened its first overseas outpost in Singapore at Keong Saik Road. The decor is similar to its flagship with the same iconic I-shaped bar and abstract portrait of Hemingway watching over guests as they indulge in the inventive libations created by the award-winning bar team. Inspired by Hemingway’s body of work are cocktails like "The Sun Also Rises #1926," a curry leaf-infused gin cocktail with copra fat-washed applejack and sweet vermouth sous-vide pandan leaves, as well as the "Little Wax Puppy," a beeswax-infused Russell’s Reserve with eucalyptus honey and bitters.
Contemporary Cocktails With Chinese Spirits at 51 Soho
Perhaps all you need to know about this new restaurant and bar in the heart of the Telok Ayer Central Business District is that drinks are available all day and you can kickstart your day with a cocktail at 8:00 a.m. if you so choose. The highlights on the drink menu are the five 51 Soho specials that feature some unusual Chinese spirits like the fiery Jiang Xiao Bai baijiu, a clear grain alcohol, as well as Chinese wines made from rice, plum and bamboo. These traditional liquors are made into surprisingly delicious and approachable cocktails like the "Bamboo Dream," in which osmanthus-infused baijiu is shaken with osmanthus rice wine, passionfruit purée and yuzu jam, and served in bamboo cups.
Also fun is the "Prosperity Cup," a mixture of fermented rice wine and barley juice, rock melon syrup and white chocolate liquor, cheekily served with an edible fake 100 RMB note printed on rice paper.
Christened after the original name of John F. Kennedy International Airport, Idlewild is the new cocktail bar in the InterContinental Singapore inspired by the golden age of air travel. The cocktail program is inspired by 10 cities along the popular Transatlantic Route—Dublin, Rome, Lima, Lisbon, New York, Casablanca, London, Paris, Mexico City and Havana—and features 20 signature cocktails created with artisanal spirits sourced from each location. "The Big Apple" screams New York with its aromatic concoction of apple brandy, small batch American bourbon and Bianco Vermouth; the Dublin-inspired "Caife" is a cold drip coffee with Irish Whiskey, Guinness reduction and cider concentrate served hot with a dollop of cold cream, while "Passage To Havana" is a dry blend of house Cuban rum, sherry and herbal Foro Amaro. Each layover on the Transatlantic Route is also represented with a tapas-style bar snack inspired by native cuisines including atún chifa, duck rilletes and avocado fries. Also not to be missed, the Cabinet of Curiosities for a wee taste of some exotic spirits from around the world.
This new watering hole in Duxton Hill pays tribute to Tom Cruise with its creative cocktails cheekily referencing the actor’s iconic films. The decor draws inspiration from Cruise’s classic 1980s movie Cocktail with its bold blue walls and neon signs while the signature drinks are nod to his body of work. "You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling" is a Ketel One vodka-powered Cosmopolitan inspired by Top Gun, while "You Can’t Handle The Vermouth" is a twist on the Negroni that plays on the famous line in A Few Good Men. The vibe is fun and unpretentious with a playlist of ’60s to ’90s music and plenty of singalong tunes.
This rustic speakeasy in Boat Quay is the place to go for gin connoisseurs and be-gin-ners alike. The bar boasts over 50 types of gin from different countries that you can sip neat, with tonic, or mixed in a creative cocktail. Explore the history of gin and all the nuances of the juniper juice with the Gin Flight, a tasting flight of four gins from different eras from the 13th century-style juniper-infused malt wine Genever (from which gin gets its name), to a familiar modern-day Hendrick’s. The alcoholic history lesson would not be complete without beGIN’s signature "Jagmohan" cocktail, a sensory journey through the 18th century British Indian spice trade when gin was the spirit of choice. The clove-spiced tequila mix is served on a smoking platter of fried crisps with chutney.
(Not) Classic PBJ. (Photo courtesy of Madame Fan Bar.)
Swanky Cantonese restaurant Madame Fan by famed restaurateur Alan Yau has just launched its own bar helmed by award-winning mixologist Davide Boncimino, who wants to create a cocktail program that’s “good enough to eat"—and by that he means meticulously crafted cocktails that fuse ingredients and techniques usually reserved for restaurant kitchens. These include housemade culinary-inspired ingredients such as the finest selection of Tie Guan Yin tea, milk-washed vodka and savory shiso vermouth, as well as special garnishes cooked up by the kitchen, such as the amber honeycomb that accompanies the "Tián Mì Mì" cocktail with black peppercorn cordial and mandarin fruit skin. For all the thought and work that go into the cocktails, the signature drinks are very approachable: the "(Not) Classic PBJ" features Chinese kumquats that have been caramelized into a liqueur with a peanut butter fat-washed Glenfiddich 15 whisky, while the "Velveteen" infuses a rich mix of Plantation Pineapple Rum with salted coconut infusion and house-made gula melaka ice cream.
Hidden beyond the wine and spirits alley in tech-forward supermarket habitat by honestbee, the new b bar speakeasy serves up cocktails inspired by seasonal themes—the current being New Age Classics. Employing gastronomy techniques like fat-washing, sous vide infusion and milk clarification, the cocktails are made with ingredients sourced from around the world which are available for purchase in the supermarket. Try the aptly-named "Milky Whey," a classic milk punch cocktail made with a recipe for natural cola comprising 15 ingredients including dried lavender and coriander.
Rachel Tan is the Associate Digital Editor at the MICHELIN Guide Digital. A former food magazine writer based in Singapore, she has a degree in communications for journalism but is a graduate of the school of hard knocks in the kitchen. She writes to taste life twice.