10 best cocktail bars in Singapore: as Formula One’s Grand Prix arrives in the Lion City, drinking dens like Appetite, MO Bar, Raffles’ Writers Bar, and Smoke & Mirrors gear up to welcome travellers
Here are the 10 best bars in Singapore, presented in no particular order, for indulging in your new – or old – favourite drink.
This bar feeds multiple senses at the same time. Not only does it offer cocktails with spirits from unique places such as Goriška Brda, Slovenia and Jalisco, Mexico, it has art exhibitions that lend energy and excitement to the space and a listening room with hundreds of records mostly from the 1970s and 80s.
What to order: A plum Negroni riffs on its traditional counterpart by using a plum kernel-based distillate, for US$18 (S$26), while the Not a Bloody Mary upends the classic restorative with Widges gin, bittersweet tamarillo and spicy yuzu kosho for S$28.
2. MO Bar
What to order: The Full Moon (S$26) is a crowd-pleaser featuring three-year aged rum, wheatgrass juice, and pear – and a “full moon” with a rabbit design (evocative of the moon rabbit of some cultural myths) floating on top, with multicoloured hues made from edible ink around the rim. It’s a trip. For S$25, gin lovers should try the Daintree, with lemon myrtle and “paint” (a by-product of the redistillation of absinthe using MO’s Rotavap) or the Annona, with soursop and pandan.
3. Writers Bar
The Writers Bar’s classic, intimate feel is a perfect way to finish off an evening. A large part of the menu was inspired by The Raffles Affair, a crime novel set inside the hotel, from author Vicki Virtue of the Raffles Writers Residency Programme.
What to order: The Million Dollar Cocktail – with Raffles 1915 gin, pineapple and sweet vermouth – is thankfully only S$30. (The 1915 gin was created for the 100th anniversary of the Sling.) There’s also the Femme Fatale, with Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV Champagne, edible flowers, apple brandy and Cocchi Rosa; and the Cold Case, with Chalong Bay Sweet Basil Rum, apricot, orgeat and coconut, each S$28.
4. Smoke & Mirrors
What to order: The Monochrome (S$25), with Naked Malt whisky, Amaro Montenegro, burnt bread cream and egg. The Man From Manila cocktail (S$27), with Michter’s bourbon, pineapple rum, yam liqueur, jackfruit and Lillet Blanc, is poured from a container with an image of a painting of bar supervisor Eduardo Zamora. The Magic Queen, which is served with a theatrical magic trick performance, combines Remy Martin 1738 Cognac, Campari, Martini Vermouth Rosso, pandan, coconut oil and saline, for S$29.
5. Jigger & Pony
Currently No 2 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Jigger & Pony keeps up its reputation for great service – gracious hellos and generally prompt attention from the staff – and a fun variety of cocktails that include many of the classics, with elevated twists.
What to order: S$28 can get you a sakura martini with Japanese Roku gin, sake, vermouth, sakura (cherry tree) leaf essence and Merlet creme de peche; a Korean boilermaker with Glenlivet 15-year-old, Lee Gang Ju soju, hops and passion fruit; or a carbonated Supermojito with Veritas rum, lime and mint. For bigger parties, there are punch bowls with 15 to 20 servings, like the Chatham Artillery with yuzu-infused Maker’s Mark bourbon, Mount Gay Eclipse rum, Remy Martin 1738 Cognac, sparkling green tea, lemon and Louis Roederer Champagne for S$330.
With its New York theme and intimate, romantic feel, Manhattan remains on top bar lists for its consistent approach to the classics, like solera-aged negronis and, of course, Manhattans. But it gets even more interesting as an increasing portion of the clientele – a consistent 25 per cent at its adults-only Sunday brunch – is now opting for a non-alcoholic beverage programme done in partnership with the Lyre’s brand of zero-proof spirits.
What to order: Beyond the classics, the Silver Factory is an homage to Andy Warhol, with hay-infused Altos blanco tequila, Muyu chinotto nero, fresh lemon juice, and caraway syrup for S$25; or the Irving Berlin-inspired F-sharp, with Michter’s straight rye whiskey, Laird’s applejack, dry Curacao, Havdalah spices, lemon, egg white and angostura bitters, for S$27. Non-alcoholic stand-outs include the Cherry Street in the Irving Berlin section of the menu, which has Lyre’s zero-proof absinthe, pineapple, lime, and agave for S$16.
7. Flows of the Indus
Go into the Adelphi Mall, known now for its record stores and formerly for sketchy karaoke outlets, and head to the basement and around a corner – that might not sound promising, but eventually you’ll come to a place that turns out to be an underground gem. At Flows of the Indus you’ll find all manner of liquids from India – wines, liquors, beer, teas and coffees.
What to order: Gin & Tea with cucumber and mint, or a Highlands with whisky, toasted curry leaves, strawberry and peppercorns, each S$25. A bottle of Neidhal Indian Single Malt will set you back S$445, while one of Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin goes for S$240. A Bira 91 Summer lager is S$15. There’s also Arya Spring 2022 Mayukh Darjeeling or Araku Grand Reserve coffee, both S$33.
Inside the Ritz-Carlton on Raffles Avenue, Republic celebrates the 1960s and four cultural epicentres of importance – Singapore, Italy, the UK and the US – in its decor, food and drink menus and music playlist (those interested in politics and history may enjoy its positioning across the hotel floor from the Colony restaurant). The bar holds a Punch Brunch every Sunday with signature drinks served from a punchbowl trolley.
What to order: For S$25, one could try a Singapore offering of the Mythical Beast, which contains Brass Lion dry gin, dry sherry and Orleans bitters; or the Valentino Red from the Italian section, which includes Monkey 47 gin, lychee oolong and watermelon Riesling. There are also premium cocktails from each location – the US one is a manhattan with 1960s-vintage ingredients (Early Times four-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Cinzano sweet red vermouth), which, given the relative rarity of the contents, will set you back S$148.
9. Fat Prince
The menu at the Middle Eastern bar-restaurant Fat Prince declares it’s “committed to a better drinking culture” by offering not only your typical full-proof cocktails and non-alcoholic options, but also “Half Proof” selections (as compared to a typical drink).
What to order: The Fez Finds a New Butler is a half-proof negroni that goes for S$18, while the Tale of the Tamarind Pineapple is an enticing non-alcoholic cocktail with zero-proof blackstrap rum, cinnamon aniseed tamarind stock and pineapple juice, for S$12. Liquor lovers should try the Bright “Ping” That Balances the Earth (Hendrick’s Orbium gin, lemongrass cordial, lemon juice, Turkish bitters) for S$24.
Singapore’s new CapitaGreen skyscraper on Market Street has eateries throughout, but it’s the 51st-floor rooftop that’s particularly special. In addition to the 1-Arden “food forest”, where contributions to the evening’s meals are grown, there’s Australian restaurant Kaarla. In the bar area, patrons can nibble on snacks like salt-cured kangaroo (S$32) or the Taramasalata with crudités and toasted sourdough (S$22) to go with their cocktails. Coming soon: a new outdoor rooftop bar, which will allow patrons to look down on the iconic Marina Bay Sands building – and just about everything else in Singapore.
What to order: For S$20, order a Pear of the Orient with cucumber- and shisho-infused vodka, Japanese pear sake, ginger liqueur, home-made myrtle cordial, fresh lemon and egg white, or the Tears of a Geisha with rum, yuzu sake, jasmine, fresh lime, and cold-brew kiwi and green tea soda.
- With F1 arriving in late September and early October, Singapore’s best bars Jigger & Pony, Manhattan, Flows of the Indus, Ritz-Carlton’s Republic and more are getting ready
- From Red Valentino-inspired cocktails to non-alcoholic spirits, these bars cater to all types of drinkers to enjoy all night long – or, of course, at weekend brunch