Dining

6 of the best bars for a fun night out in Singapore

The Singapore cocktail scene is taking it up a notch. And we’re not just talking about the drinks - although whether you like keeping things classic or have a soft spot for anything with a local twist, you’re bound to find something on at least one of these menus
 

       

Photo: NINETEEN80

It takes more than a solid cocktail to guarantee a good night out and these bars know it. At these new watering holes, revisit the 80s, play a round of Codenames (losers buy the next round) and sip cocktails inspired by the art around you. 

 

1. Jigger & Pony

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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From Amoy Street to Tanjong Pagar: Jigger & Pony reopened in the Amara Hotel lobby last week. With double the room, the 140-seat bar features two bar counters, so that either one would be within view, no matter where you sit. The interior aesthetic is modern-meets-Bauhaus to reflect the bar’s timeless qualities. A tad more classy (it is now nestled in a hotel after all) but no less intimate and cosy than before.

Pick your poison but don’t feel obligated to stick to it all night. The repertoire is extensive. Jigger & Pony’s new menu design is done up like a magazine. Broken down into 11 different categories, it boasts an impressive list of classic and reimagined cocktails ($23). Editorial-style articles and commentary include. Take for instance the interview with principal bartender Giovanni Graziadei on his concoctions and sections dedicated to the old fashioned and martini.

Speaking of martinis - which make up 20 per cent of the current menu, they’re an excellent choice if you want something that really packs a punch. Variations range from the classic gin martini to the herbaceous Harvest Martini, which uses local tarragon, cologne mint and butterfly sorrel from Citizen Farm. You get unadulterated aromas of herbs in the latter and a clean, crisp taste.

For something lighter on the palate, ease into the night with the fruity Jungle Bird or the ondeh-ondeh-inspired Java Cooler - as refreshing as it is sweet. For something creamy and silky smooth, try the Duo Julio Blanco Tequila-based Toreador with Merlot apricot, lime and freeze-dried yoghurt. It’s a little tangy and utterly moreish.

The cocktails all work well with the rustic chicken liver mousse. Served in a pop art labelled can with biscuits on the side, it’s a decadent treat to be savoured until the very last drop.

Address: 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Amara Hotel; Tel: +65-9621-1074; Opening hours: 5pm-1am from Sundays to Thursdays and 5pm-3am on Fridays and Saturdays; Website: click here

 

2. Nineteen80

Photo: NINETEEN80

There’s something about nostalgia that we can’t seem to get enough of (as evident from the movie remakes and television revivals in recent years). Looking at the past, memories all seem so sweet. Kind of like the colourful cocktail mixes made using fresh fruit juices at Nineteen80. Available in a glass ($18-20) or in the once popular jugs ($50-70) are the Vodka Ribena, Ice-T “Hustler” Remix (Long Island Ice Tea with a cloudy apple twist) and Super Disco Blend (Blue Lagoon with a yuzu finish).

Well Nineteen80 is all about reliving the good old days. Paying tribute to the 80s, the retro-themed arcade bar is decked out in bright lights and dotted with Easter eggs that act as visual cues to the past. The decor uses cassette tapes and on one of the walls is the “1-177155-4” pager code. It spells out “I-MISS-U” if you’re too young to have ever used the device. 

Artwork by Mojoko references video games but don’t just stop and stare. Try your hand at PacMan, Space Invaders, Double Dragon and Street Fighter. Skills might be a little rusty but it’s all in good fun. Or dance the night away to urban beats from the 80s, 90s and 00s. From hip hop and R&B to disco, funk, soul and house, you can bet that the club has the feel-good tunes to get the party going.

This Saturday’s theme party will pay homage to the 40th Anniversary of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s classic hit Grease. Entry's free for those who go dolled up in all things Grease. The best dressed couple or groups will get two bottles of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. Time to dust off your poodle skirts and leather jackets.

Address: 21 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-05; Tel: +65-9183-6073; Opening hours: 5.30pm-1am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5.30pm to 3am on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; Closed on Sundays and Mondays; Website: click here

 

3. White Label 

Photo: White Label Records

Opening doors tomorrow (September 28), White Label is the new place in Ann Siang Hill for music lovers to convene. The neon sign “You Make My Heart Spin” hangs out front, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A day-to-night record store and bar, it’s the brainchild of music and lifestyle e-commerce platform #vinyloftheday co-founders Kurt Loy and Darren Tan, and The Analog Vault co-founder Sharon Seet. Word is that they’ll be bringing out their own personal collections from time to time. And if you like what you hear, they’ll help you track down a copy.

A record store for LP lovers (we caught a glimpse of Japanese jazz and city pop records) and more, White Label seeks to connect the music community and provide them with resources and chances to create and perform. What this means is it’ll host gigs, workshops, screenings and talks, on top of having an enviable list of records for you to sift through.

Putting a spin on things behind the bar is Jerrica Lee, formerly from Craft Shanghai. You’ll notice her fondness for fresh fruits and natural ingredients in the signature vodka-based fresh fruit Mojito, the Chrysanthemum Vodka Martini and the White Label Iced Tea, which is essentially a tea-based Long Island.

At tomorrow’s grand opening, there’ll be free-flow alcohol from 7pm to 8pm and 10 per cent off every record purchase. The soundtrack of the night will be provided by hip-hop and jazz DJ FUNK BSTRD, DJ Ramesh from CÉ LA VI and DJ Gema from Order/Syndicate.

Address: 28 Ann Siang hill, #01-01, Ann Siang House; Tel: +65-9742-4819; Opening hours: 9am-8pm on Tuesdays, 9am-12am from Wednesdays to Saturdays, 11am-5pm on Sundays, closed on Mondays; Website: click here

4. King and Pawn

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One for thinkers and drinkers is cafe-slash-bar King and Pawn. Geek out over the 300 board games that range from rowdy party games to brain-bending strategy ones. Doesn’t matter if you’re on a date or simply hanging with your bestie because there are 2-player games fit for the occasion too.

The board game fee will only cost you $8 per person from Tuesdays to Thursdays and $13 from Fridays to Sundays, but you’re welcomed to stay on as long as you like. No pressure on newbies though - there’ll be game gurus on hand with recommendation and tips so you don’t waste time deciphering the instructions manual.

The space is relaxed and unpretentious. So grab a drink and settle in for some serious - but fun - competition. Citrus concoctions include Code (names) Red ($16 for a glass, $48 for a jug), which is made up of red wine, rum, crushed berries and fresh orange juice, and Forbidden Fruit ($16) - a honey umeshu, gin, passion fruit, fresh calamansi juice and orange peel cocktail. Infusing a taste of home is Love Letter ($16) with pandan-infused gin and fresh baby coconut. Happy hour runs from 5pm to 8pm on Mondays to Fridays.

Address: 24 Purvis Street, #02-01; Tel: +65-6259-1913; Opening hours: 5pm-11pm from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 5pm-2am on Fridays, 11am-2am on Saturdays, 11am-10pm on Sundays. Website: click here.

 

5. Telok Ayer Arts Club

Photo: Telok Ayer Arts Club

Arts, music, food and drinks come together at Telok Ayer Arts Club. The Supermarket Company’s latest venture, it will have local and regional artists inhabit the Arts Club and fill the space with multidisciplinary works and performances. The first exhibition is In-habitations and features automated sculptures that generate sound. They're the works of Goh Abigail who visited the space when it was still under renovation. Inspired by the site, she collected old pipes, tiles and copper wires for her pieces. 

Bridging the different aspects of the club, the food and beverage team will roll out dishes and drinks that tie in the music and art events. For Abigail, the team created a deconstructed lemon and coconut crumbled called the Frozen Lemon Dome. The dessert was inspired by the abstract strokes and colours used in her drawings. The Sweet Melody cocktail on the other hand was inspired by how the artist's show features sculptures called “performing objects”. The aluminum foil wrapped around the drink mirrors the different types of metal that she incorporates in her work. "Wrapping the aluminum foil around the drink also creates textures and shapes similar to Abigail’s abstract drawings," explains beverage manager Din Hassan. 

A number of the cocktails are inspired by homeground. Think: Southeast Asian Classics such as the Spiced Cup, which is a mix of Hendrick's Gin, fresh lime juice and tabasco. The tabasco leaves a lingering lip-smacking spiciness. Another concoction is the gin-based White Lady, made using fresh lime juice, curry leaves, Pernod and a papadum cracker. From 12pm to 7pm on weekdays, enjoy cocktails like the Aperol Spritz, Mojito and Spiced Cup for $14 each. Otherwise they start from $20. 

Address: 2 McCallum St; Tel: +65-6221-0712; Opening hours: 11am-11pm from Mondays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays; Website: click here

6. Vatos Urban Tacos

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The frozen margaritas at the Korean-Mexican restaurant are huge. Like the Sexy Sanchez ($28), a strawberry margarita with Albens apple and strawberry cider. It’s a slushie in an oversized cocktail glass with an upside down cider bottle stuck on it. Fruity and sweet as they are, don’t let the drinks here fool you. They’re deceivingly strong! New additions to the menu are the Seoul Sling, which is uses soju to balance out some of the sweetness in the Singaporean cocktail, and KoMex hybrid Hong Cho Paloma. The latter uses grapefruit Hong Cho instead of grapefruit juice in tart Mexican cocktail paloma to give it a Korean touch. 

Not to mention that Vatos Urban Tacos has got a finger-licking delicious menu to match. And there have been some new additions. Something we couldn’t get enough of was the Kimchi Galbi Grilled Cheese ($16), oozing with cheese. Picture this: savoury sauteed kimchi, marinated Galbi short rib, Mexican cheese between two freshly baked crispy sourdough slices. Sure it’s sinful stuff but if you’re going to indulge, you might as well go all the way.

Mexico’s national sauce gets a kick with a dollop of Korean gochujang in the Chicken Mole Enchiladas ($16).  The funky sauce is generously poured over shredded chicken and cheese enchiladas, topped with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro.

Address: 36 Beach Road; Tel: +65-6385-6010; Opening hours: 5.30pm-11pm on Mondays, 12pm-12am on Fridays and Saturdays, 12pm-11pm every other day; Website: click here.

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