When the haze chokes the city every year, rooftop food and beverage establishments are bound to see their business suffer as patrons avoid the outdoors.
Yet, those who run rooftop bars remain undaunted and such establishments continue to pop up. Over the last four months, at least three rooftop bars have opened.
And restaurant and bar Potato Head Folk in Keong Saik Road has renovated its rooftop bar to expand its seating capacity. The space will reopen on Feb 24.
Last year’s haze, which lasted from September to November, hit many food and beverage outlets hard, as they saw diner numbers fall.
One of them was the private rooftop bar of Sum Yi Tai in Boon Tat Street, a restaurant and bar space with a Cantonese twist that opened in March last year. Access to the rooftop is by reservation only.
Ms Tay Eu-Yen, 37, co-founder and chief executive officer at Coterie Dining Concepts, which runs the four-level space, estimates that its total business fell by about 30 per cent. But the losses were mitigated as the establishment was still able to operate in its indoor space – the first-floor bar and tapas spot and the second-floor dining club.
A new rooftop bar, Terra, will open at Suntec City’s Sky Garden next Thursday. It is owned by nightlife group Limited Edition Concepts. Mr Godwin Pereira, the company’s director and co-founder, says it has to take the elements – haze, rain or otherwise – in its stride.
He says: “Itaffects you no matter what business you’re in. We just have to deal with it when it happens.”
One other rooftop bar that opened recently is Smoke & Mirrors at the National Gallery Singapore. British gastropub Oxwell & Co, which occupies a four-storey shophouse in Ann Siang Road, also added a bar to its rooftop space which houses a herb garden.
The design and even the drinks menu of these bars are a reflection of their location. For example, Terra’s tropical vibe complements its location in Suntec City’s Sky Garden. The decor comprises pastel blues and greens and natural wood elements. Wooden bartop counters were sourced from Semarang in Indonesia.
The cocktail menu also relies heavily on ingredients such as basil and mint.
Over at Smoke & Mirrors, some of the cocktails are inspired by the artworks at the National Gallery Singapore.
Mr Albert Barratt, 28, group head of beverage at The Blind Group, which owns Oxwell & Co, says the rooftop bar completes the venue as diners move up through the floors. The first floor has a bar, the second a dining space and the third, a private dining space. “As people come up, it’s somewhere to finish the evening,” he explains.
The new all-gin menu is available only at the rooftop bar.
Mr Barratt adds: “For us, it’s a quirky space where we can do things a little differently to what we do on the other levels, and have a little bit more creativity.”
1. Smoke & Mirrors
Where: 06-01 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road
Open: Sunday to Thursday, 11.30am to 12.30am; Friday to Saturday, 11.30 to 1am
Perched atop the old Supreme Court building, which now houses the National Gallery Singapore, Smoke & Mirrors offers a stunning cityscape view at any time ofthe day.
The bar opened last October and is owned by Singapore-based Park Hotel Group.
Mr Yugnes Susela, 28, formerly of Tippling Club, helms the bar and has created a cocktail list with innovative, experimental drinks that are works of art in themselves.
Some cocktails are inspired by the pieces in the gallery. For instance, Painting Class (1957) by Singapore artist Lim Yew Kuan is reflected in a Peruvian pisco and prosecco-based cocktail ($22) with an edible chocolate streak painted in the champagne flute as an homage to the piece.
Some of the drinks take inspiration from the skyline, such as the New & Old Sling ($26), a riff on the classic Singapore Sling that uses non-traditional rye whiskey and lime juice in the concoction, topped off by a dome of pineapple bubbles. The dome, Mr Susela says, is inspired by the Esplanade’s thorny facade.
Bar snacks are made by sister Cantonese restaurant Yan, located a floor below and are priced between $8 and $28, with items such as crab claws with homemade chilli dip ($18), served with a mantou bun to soak up the sauce.
Due to guidelines that do not allow the construction of awnings on the facade of the heritage building, guests would have to move to the bar’s sheltered area when it rains. But the 100-seater bar has ample space to accommodate them.
Where: 03-308 Suntec City Sky Garden, 3 Temasek Boulevard
Open: Monday and Tuesday, 3pm to midnight; Wednesday and Thursday, 3pm to 1am; Friday and Saturday, 3pm to 2am. Closed on Sunday
The spacious rooftop terrace bar, located in the Suntec City Sky Garden, opens next Thursday.
Decorated in earth tones, pastel colours and tiled and wood finishes, the breezy 353 sq m space is owned by Limited Edition Concepts, which also runs basement club Kyo in Cecil Street and hip-hop club Refuge in Circular Road.
Limited Edition Concepts’ director and co-founder Godwin Pereira says Terra is not mainstream.
Describing the bar as “the more sophisticated sister” of The Vault, the company’s now-defunct bistro lounge in Circular Road, Mr Pereira, 41, says Terra “sets the mood and momentum for people to eventually go to a club”. A central DJ booth spins everything from balearic beats to house music, depending on the night. DJs on rotation include Jerls, Ramesh K and Kenneth Francis.
Hanging plants adorn the shelves behind the bar counter and there is ample seating and standing space with high tables, lounge seats and bar seats.
The food menu is limited but punchy, featuring Latin American and Mexican cuisine such as stuffed piquillo peppers ($13) and gambas con chocolate ($14).
The cocktail menu is also a reflection of Latin American influences with cocktails such as the cachaca-based Viva La Brasil ($18). Cachaca, a spirit made from sugarcane juice, is used in the caipirinha, a classic Brazilian cocktail.
3. The Rooftop at Potato Head Folk
Where: Level 4, 36 Keong Saik Road
When: 5pm to midnight daily
The Rooftop bar at Potato Head Folk has undergone a revamp. The hip multi-level food and beverage outlet opened in June 2014 and occupies a four-storey shophouse in Keong Saik Road.
The Straits Times understands that renovation works mainly comprised an extension of the current roof space to increase seating capacity by about 10. The bar can now hold about 40 people.
The design, interior decor and menu for both cocktails and food will remain the same.
The establishment, owned by PTT Family, the group behind the Potato Head Beach Club in Bali, serves rum-based tiki-style cocktails at its rooftop bar.
The first and second floors are taken up by Three Buns – a restaurant and bar with outdoor dining on the first floor, and indoor dining on the second floor – and the third floor houses cocktail bar 1939.
The Rooftop will reopen officially on Feb 24 with a tropical party and a live tiki band.
4. Oxwell & Co’s Rooftop Garden
Where: Level 4, 5 Ann Siang Road
Open: Wednesday to Saturday, 7pm to midnight
Overlooking Club Street and Chinatown, the British gastropub’s intimate rooftop space has added a bar to its herb garden, which has served the kitchen since the restaurant opened in 2013.
The 46 sq m Rooftop Garden opened in December last year and has communal tables that seat about 15.
The all-gin menu features Hendrick’s Gin. The gin company also designed the space with the team from Oxwell.
Decked out in a forest-green palette, the space has industrial- sized fans and large deck umbrellas that provide ample shade and ventilation.
Organic herbs, including basil and mint, are used in the dishes by head chef Nic Scorpion in the lower floors. They are also freshly picked and muddled into signature cocktails on the rooftop.
Highlights on the all-gin menu include A Brew On The Roof ($22 for a glass, $80 for a tea set) – made with Earl Grey tea-infused gin and Indian borage, a type of mint, and served in a teapot and teacups – as well as High Noon ($22), made with gin, elderflower and fresh dill with a dill salt rim. Non-gin cocktails are available on request.
The menu is expected to be updated every three months.
A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on February 12, 2016. For more stories like this, head to www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle.