It is my fourth visit to Singapore yet the first time I got to experience what the cocktail scene is like in Singapore.  With the rapid growth of cocktail popularity in Singapore over the last three years, Singapore is in the cocktail renaissance with five bars on the World’s Top 50 Bar list.

Marina Bay at Sunrise

This article is not a travel guide but a bar guide for those who travel to Singapore for the first time and want to experience the cocktail culture in 3-4 days.  I would love to go back soon to explore more, but this guide will give you a good start.

If You Can Only Go To Five

Atlas

 I love Atlas.  Breathtakingly beautiful, Atlas might be the most beautiful bar I have ever been.  While everyone tries to innovate on cocktail ingredients and pushes the boundary, Atlas reminds me how the drinking culture all started in the first place.  Set in the historical Parkview Square building, this glamorous Art Deco lobby bar looks like it was plucked straight from the jazz age elegance. Number 8th of the World’s Top 50, this bar is specialized in gin and champagne, with an impressive gin tower housing over 1500+ gin bottles.  Head Bartender Jesse Vida is from San Francisco and New York that makes me feel close to this bar.  

Art Deco Lobby Bar

Tips:  

  • Go there at 12 PM.  Atlas opens at 12 and it is a great place to escape the heat and enjoy a quiet and romantic afternoon.  Besides, you will be able to take great pictures of the most beautiful bars without lots of people.
  • Ask for a gin tower tour.  

Operation Dagger

 This secret underground bar is crowned as 23 of the World’s 50 Best Bars, and there are many things to love about it.  The cocktails focus on the overall sensory, so they have removed the main spirit from the menu so you wouldn’t have preconceptions.  The wall is filled with apothecary like bottles from their experiments. The decor is very minimalistic with a massive cloud of thousands of bulbs over the bar.  You would see potato skin infusion, bacon cream soda to sesame ginger on the menu.

Tips:

  • Ask to see the tiny distilling machine they have upstairs.
  • Ask lots of questions.  They use lots of interesting techniques and are super friendly to answer you.
  • Try their omakase menu with a set of food and drink pairing.
  • The bar closes on Sunday.

Manhattan

Inside Regent Hotels,  Manhattan reminds me of what a perfect bar should be: classic drinks, professional staff that would go above and beyond to ensure you have a great experience, and gorgeous setup.  The menu is categorized by the various eras in the history of the spirit because of the strong focus on classics. Manhattan is currently ranked number 3 of the World’s Top 50 bars.

Tips:

  • They have a Sunday cocktail brunch starting at 3 PM.
  • Mad Dog is one of their signature drinks; it is just amazing.
  • They have a great barrel aged cocktail program.

The Other Room

Inside the Marriott Hotel but not connected,  while not on the World’s Top 50 Bars list, make no mistakes and go there.  I was blown away by my experience there. I am a huge fan of classic drinks or classics with twists, so this bar is hitting my spots.  Head Bartender Dario Knox would take the spirits around the world and age them again in casks that are previously for other spirits so while the drinks are classic; they are all unique.  Dario is also very forward thinking, one of their most popular drinks is Reversed Gin and Tonic. In this drink tonic water is flattened, then cooked with the spices such as peppercorn, lemon zest, green cardamom.  

Tips:

  • This bar opens late til 3-4am.
  • Dario has just opened its sister bar named The Other Roof, instead of re-maturation in different casks, he focused on tea + spirits at The Other Roof. Do check it out.

The Auld Alliance

 This is a place all whisky lovers would not ever want to leave.  Founded in 2011, Frenchman Emmanuel Dron wanted to have a place where whiskey lovers at all levels can experience and enjoy.  With more than 1500 whiskeys, some of the collections are so rare. Karuizawa. Bowmore 1966 Bouquet Samaroli. The Hanyu Ichiro Cards Series. Pappy Van Winkle.  Anyone? The cool thing is that The Auld Alliance also bottles and distributes its own high-end, single cask whiskeys.

Tips:

  • While it is known for whisky, The Auld Alliance also carries some rare cognac and champagne.
  • Don’t be shy to ask advice.  It has whiskeys for all levels.  Some of the flights are designed for those who may want to try different things, categorized by regions, taste profiles or selection by masters.
  • The bar opens at 5 PM.  So for those who are tight on time, go here first as most bars in Singapore open at 6 PM.

A Few More Excellent Ones

Native

Native is attractive because the owner Vijay Mudailar takes a different approach and he focuses on everything regional, from the spirits to ingredients used. In short two years, Native has become one of the top 50 bars with its latest rank as 13.  If you love novice cocktail experience and learn about the local spirits, this is the bar to go. The menu is short, just five drinks and some of them are not for the fainted heart. Grasshopper anyone?

Tips:

  • The staff at Native are super attentive.  Be curious and ask questions about how they come up with drinks, and ask for a tasting of the main spirits, it is likely something you have never heard of and only from the Asia region.
  • Did I mention Native, Operation Dagger, Spiffy Dapper, Employ Only are all clustered around the same area?  If your liver can handle it, you can hit all of them in one night.

Smoke and Mirrors

The cocktail menu might be short, but this bar wins by having THE BEST VIEW in Singapore. Inside the National Gallery, you can easily spend the afternoon immersing yourself in the art, the head to the rooftop to enjoy the sunset with a sip in hand.

Tips:

  • Make a reservation for outside seating, about 30-40 minutes before the sunset.  That way, you will get great pictures both before and after sunset – while the lights are all turned on.
  • If you feel hungry, head downstairs for a meal at National Kitchen by Violet Oon.  It is an excellent restaurant with great view and food, reservation recommended.

Tippling Club 

It used to have this editable gummy bear themed menu, each gummy represents the taste of 12 cocktails on the menu.  While I was disappointed to find out, they have no more 🐻, happy to try out the new limited edition menu named “perfume” which was excellent.

Tips:

  • Tippling Club has excellent meals, paired with cocktails.  Strongly recommend having meals here.
  • It opens at 12 PM which means another day drink spot in Singapore.
  • Want to experience the Asian tea ceremony and learn how to do it yourself? Tea Chapter nearby offers such experience and a great place to relax after the meal.

Spiffy Dapper

A bar that is frequented by tourists and industry people.  Long menu with 1920’s inspired drinks. More than 200+ gin collection,  new drinks are created almost every week. Did I mention they have the full recipes for each drink on the menu?  I was busy taking the screenshots :).

Tips

  • Ask for off-menu drinks
  • This bar opens slightly later compared to Native or Operation Dagger. So you can save it for the last stop if you do bar hopping.

That’s it.  This article by no means an exhaustive list to cover everything.  I am looking forward to going back to explore more, my favorites also new ones.

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