You know Singapore’s bar scene is on the right path when the island’s bars can still win six spots on the World’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and 12 places in Asia’s 50 Best Bars lists, even amidst the strict nightlife restrictions imposed by the government during the pandemic.
Drinking in Singapore’s establishments isn’t exactly cheap (now that’s the understatement of the year). A beer can easily set you back between S$8 to S$15 (US$6 to US$11) and cocktails around S$18 to S$30 (US$13 to US$22), due to the alcohol tax. So you’ll want to make sure to get the best bang for your buck in terms of the ambience, decor and tipples.
This lineup will reveal some of the unique speakeasies hidden behind nondescript doors, high-end (or as Singlish goes, atas) gatsby-esque watering holes and bars inspired by local flavour profiles.
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- Gatsby Charms And Colonial Dreams
- Intriguing Singapore Bars With A Local Twist
20 Cool Bars In Singapore
Singapore Bars Awarded The ‘World’s Best 50 Bars’
After over a decade of ranking the world’s best bars, the World’s Best 50 Bars ranking is judged by over 600 global alcohol experts.
Bars from all over the world fight to be recognised on this prestigious and coveted list every year.
1- Jigger & Pony at Amara Singapore (No 9)
With a 64-page menuzine to introduce their 24-strong cocktail list, it’s no wonder that Jigger & Pony managed to cinch the global number 9 ranking!
This Singapore bar aims to create the best possible experience of connecting people over drinks.
The menuzine features a descriptive introduction with inspiring stories behind each cocktail.
From Spumoni (a refreshing Japanese gin aperitivo with hints of citrus) to Jasmine & Rice (a Singapore-inspired tropical tipple featuring rich creamy pureed jasmine rice with hints of tea) to Korean Boilermaker (soju and passionfruit backed by malty and woody notes from Scotch whiskey), it’s easy to see why Jigger & Pony is on of the best experiential bars in Singapore.
Jigger & Pony is at 165 Tg Pagar Rd, Amara Hotel, Singapore 088539.
2- Manhattan at Regent Singapore (No 15)
Velvet curtains, sprawling leather Chesterfield sofas and shining golden finishes are a nod to the old New York glamour of the 1960s.
Evocative of a grand hotel bar, Manhattan is the epitome of lush and luxurious.
Choose your tipple from a selection of forgotten spirits and cocktails crafted from the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse (racks filled with oak barrels specifically to age and store distilled spirits).
Even the exotic ingredients such as rhubarb bitters and wild cherry bark that elevate the drinking experience seem to exude glamour and sophistication.
Manhattan is at 1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2 Regent Singapore, Singapore 249715.
3- Atlas (No 16)
Looking like it waltzed straight out of Gotham City, Atlas is in one of Singapore’s most iconic art deco buildings that was inspired by the glamorous skyscrapers of New York and Europe.
Atlas graces the ground floor lobby with its sprawling high three-storey gin tower and has an extensive collection of over 1,300 types of gins, including one dating back to 1910.
Besides gin, another speciality includes champagne, befitting of the art deco theme where the bubbly drink flowed in abundance in Europe back in the 1920s.
Atlas is at 600 North Bridge Rd, Parkview Square, Singapore 188778.
4- No Sleep Club (No 26)
Run by industry veterans Juan Yi Jun and Jessica Hutch, this all-day joint sells coffee and brunch by day, excellent tipples and irresistible grubs by night.
Expect the unexpected with cocktails like Hay & Apples (hay whiskey paired with fermented apples and chamomile honey) or Black Plum & Pepper Spritz (a toasty muscat combined with vanilla pink peppercorn and black plum).
No Sleep Club is at 20 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore 089127.
5- MO Bar at Mandarin Oriental (No 36)
Standing by its theme of connecting people, MO Bar is a place to discover and celebrate diversity through its drinks.
Already in its fourth version of the cocktail program, the team behind MO Bar will take you on a nomadic journey through the region with drinks inspired by native ingredients.
Savour the unusual tastes of azuki beans in Anko inspired by Hokkaido, pandan and soursop in Annona inspired by Koh Samui, pine trees in Sonamu inspired by Korea.
The 3D spherical menu shaped like a globe completes the delightful experience.
MO Bar is at 5 Raffles Ave, Singapore 039797.
6- Tippling Club (No 43)
Get tipsy while on a gastronomical adventure with Chef-Owner Ryan Clift.
The Tippling Club pushes the boundaries with unique ingredients, textures and even the dining and drinking experience.
With their previous Sensorium Menu, customers chose their favourite scent from a tray of fragrance strips to determine the tipple choice.
Their new experience is centred around the theme of ‘A Guide to Modern Drinking’, which takes inspiration from art by translating famous pieces into drinks.
Where else can you drink art from Andy Warhol, Basquiat and even Shakespeare?
Tippling Club is at 38 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088461.
Singapore’s Hidden Bars and Speakeasies
7- Mama Diam
Mama Diam is the Singlish expression for the convenient corner shop or a mom and pop grocery store found in every neighbourhood under HDB or public housing apartment blocks.
You’ll have to pass through an outdoor area complete with HDB stools and eclectic vintage decor that evoke nostalgia to enter the bar.
The hidden door is behind a stack of shelves displaying candies and snacks of yesteryear.
In line with its vintage cultural theme, some signature cocktails like Pandan Colada and Mama’s Kopi include ingredients like pandan and kopi (coffee), while others include the tarik (milk tea) and sour plum.
Mama Diam is at 38 Prinsep St, Singapore 188665.
8- The Dragon Chamber
The Dragon Chamber is hidden behind an unassuming fridge door of a traditional coffee shop.
You’ll be transported back to the era of Chinese secret society hangouts and gambling dens rampant during Singapore’s colonial days.
Serving up eyebrow-raising unconventional Chinese food, such as crocodile’s foot and double-boiled crocodile’s penis soup, its drinks menu channels colonial Singapore while centred around a dragon theme.
The Dragon Chamber is at 2 Circular Rd, Singapore 049358.
9- Taylor Adam
Another gem concealed behind a bespoke tailor facade, Taylor Adam’s interior looks straight from a Kingsman movie.
The tailor shopfront plays the owner’s motto that every drink should be, ahem, ‘tailored’ to each individual.
Its list of signature cocktails features local and regional inspiration, such as the Peranakan Sunset, which plays around with the spices of Southeast Asia, and Sentosa Spritz, which has a light tropical touch.
Taylor Adam is at 1 Raffles Pl, #01-03, Singapore 048616.
10- 28 Hong Kong Street
Hidden behind another undistinguished door, you might think that the hush-hush trend of yet another speakeasy is long gone, but the team at 28 HKS proves you wrong.
One of the pioneers of the speakeasy scene, the menu offers a creative twist on the classics with their own interpretations, and they hold the fort with their very own creations.
Drink a classic cocktail while your eyes drink in the urban-chic American-style interior with hip-hop music playing in the background.
28 Hong Kong Street is at 28 Hongkong St, Singapore 059667.
11- Neon Pigeon
Neon Pigeon has found its new roost in a brand-new location on Carpenter Street.
You can admire wall-to-wall murals of pigeons in all their mundane glory, courtesy of street artist ZERO (Zulkarnaen Othman) amidst the frenetic beat of Japanese hip hop music.
The Japanese theme runs strong here.
Featured cocktails are named after famous anime characters and are usually mixed with Japanese spirits.
Neon Pigeon is at 36 Carpenter St, #01-01, Singapore 059915.
Gatsby Charms And Colonial Dreams
12- Employees Only
A banging success ever since it first opened in 2016, this apple doesn’t fall far from its tree (the flagship Employees Only bar in Downtown New York City).
The entrance is hidden in plain sight behind a neon pink “psychic” sign decorating its shopfront and opens into an art deco world.
Think old-world magic with dim, warm lighting, dark wood furnishings, a towering stack of bottles behind the bar and a low antique ceiling.
Besides sipping on signature cocktails typical of New York City, the bartenders have created new cocktails featuring local flavours.
Employees Only is at 112 Amoy St, Singapore 069932.
Enter this 28-seater speakeasy through a lifestyle retail shopfront selling the bar’s paraphernalia to be whisked into a posh Ginza-style haven, complete with carpeted floors and dark-wood interiors.
Bar owner Daiki Kanetaka insists on being the head bartender to maintain quality.
Don’t be confused when there’s no drinks menu to be found as he believes that drinks should be held to the same standards as a Saville Row bespoke suit – tailored to each individual.
The takeaway and delivery menu offers interesting renditions of deep drip coffee cocktails, tea cocktails and even herbal concoctions.
D.bespoke is at 2 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089816.
14- The Whiskey Library at The Vagabond Club
Whiskey lovers rejoice! Located within the eccentric The Vagabond Club hotel, this snazzy ‘library’ has a catalogue of over 1,000 award-winning whiskies.
Complementing the outlandish and somewhat garish and in-your-face furnishings of the hotel, the interior of the Whisky Library is decked out in velvet red and gold finishings.
True whiskey connoisseurs can apply for membership, which includes 10 room nights free, discounted pricing on all whiskey bottles, a personal whiskey locker in their whiskey vault and preferential seating at all events and experiences.
The Whiskey Library is at 39 Syed Alwi Rd, at The Vagabond Club, Singapore 207630.
Paying homage to Bond girl turned interior designer, Anouska Hempel, you’ll find yourself transported into a world filled with mystery, intrigue, romance and theatre.
Located within Duxton Reserve Hotel, designed by Anouska herself, this bar’s signature cocktail, Escape to Kaifeng (a delicate floral aperitif combining house-made chrysanthemum cordial with a herbal Tanqueray gin), pays tribute to the 1969 namesake film.
Chocolate lovers will delight in the Hong Long Choc, an infusion of chocolate liquor, whiskey, aromatic bitters and Lapsang Souchong.
Anouska’s is at 83 Duxton Rd, Duxton Reserve, Singapore 089540.
Intriguing Singapore Bars With A Local Twist
16- Bar Stories
“Bar Stories has never, and perhaps will never, have a formal cocktail menu” is what it says on its website.
That’s because head mixologist Dave Koh believes that conversations are the way to one’s stomach.
Customers are encouraged to try something out of their comfort zone, and the attentive waitstaff, who are also bartenders, will change your drink if they realise that you’re not satisfied.
The drinks are exemplary and the presentation is on another level.
Bar Stories is at 55-57A Haji Ln, Singapore 189248.
If you’re up for a fancy cocktail with all the local flavours, Hopscotch is one of the top bars in Singapore to go.
With two locations in Singapore, Hopscotch provides a multisensory gastronomy experience just with their cocktails alone.
Try the Milo Medley (thick, creamy and sweet indulgence mixed with cognac and vanilla ice cream) or the Bubble Bean (homemade milk tea spiked with light rum and topped with beancurd jelly and brown sugar tapioca pearls).
The Tipsy Nyonya (a concoction of pandan, coconut sorbet and fresh citrus mixed with vodka and Nigori sake) is served with a popular Peranakan dessert, kueh salat.
Hopscotch is at 45 Malan Rd, Singapore 109455.
18- Origin Bar
Tucked away in a corner of Shangri-La Hotel, the 34-seater bar, with its high-end train station inspired interiors of toned-down blue teal walls and dark mahogany wood finishings, takes you on a journey with its locally inspired cocktails.
Choose from areas in Singapore like Orchard, Balestier, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay and be surprised at how they can add a twist to ingredients found in those areas during the colonial times.
Rum enthusiasts will be pleased to know that they carry 340 bottles of rum from over 40 countries, including 12 exclusive ones made in-house.
Origin Bar is at Lobby Level, Tower Wing, 22 Orange Grove Rd, 258350.
A bar focusing on zero waste and sustainability – what’s there not to love?
While the minimalistic design doesn’t scream of a fancy night out, the spotlight on only using local and regional ingredients in their cocktails is certainly not something you would find anywhere else.
For example, the Antz cocktail is a creation where locally foraged weaver ants are combined with Thai-imported ants as a sour garnish over a cocktail made from Thai rum, coconut yoghurt, tapioca and soursop.
Native is at 52a Amoy St, Singapore 069878.
20- The Elephant Room
The Elephant Room takes the mantle by sharing the stories of Singapore’s very own Little India – an often under-told and under-explored side of Singapore.
It is deeply involved within its neighbourhood of Little India.
From sourcing ingredients from the nearby Tekka market to reusing leftover cloth saree cloths, they want to spread the culture in all its glory, richness and colour.
Using alcohol mostly sourced from India, their cocktails include the refreshing Buffalo Road (an Indian spin on the classic gin & tonic made from house-made pink guava distillate and vetiver) and Banana King (a sparkling caramelised banana distillate with banana wine and vinegar).
The Elephant Room is at 20A Teck Lim Rd, Singapore 088391.