Be prepared to do a bit of searching to find the city’s most intriguing bars.
Singapore is in the midst of a golden age of cocktails. Mixologists in the Southeast Asian city-state have been busy in the past few years refining old-school favorites and inventing new ones. In the process, they’ve elevated the nation’s bars, making them destinations unto themselves—that’s if you can find them. In a throwback to the prohibition era, many of Singapore’s most intriguing bars are hidden. Some you can find in plain sight if you know where to look, some are tucked inside other restaurants, and others require some serious sleuthing. All of them offer a unique setting meant to celebrate the drinks created within.
28 HongKong Street
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the name of this bar is its address—it can still be easy to miss. Opened in 2011, 28 HongKong Street was one of the early pioneers of Singapore’s speakeasy cocktail scene. Inside the cozy space, you’ll find American-style craft cocktails. Order the Five Foot Assassin or the Stone Fence for a feel of what this bar is all about.
Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
This tiny bar in the Boat Quay neighborhood is proof the best things come in small packages. Head to the bar on the second floor of a shophouse, early (it gets crowded) and order one of the old-school cocktails Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall is known for, such as a Negroni.
It takes some luck to find this charming rooftop bar, but it’s oh, so worth it. Find the entrance tucked into an alley in Singapore’s Holland Village neighborhood and climb up the stairs to a rooftop oasis with indoor and outdoor spaces. For a post-dinner sipper, order the Dragon’s Breath, a mellow concoction of Scotch whisky, Goji and Winter melon syrup, hand-pressed citrus, and mezcal. For something floral, try the smooth Golden Swallow, made with St. Germain Elderflower, Shiso Umeshu, white wine syrup, peach tincture, and boozy Prosecco.
Everything comes up floral at this cool, underground bar. After finding the entrance to Bincho at the back of a Hawker food stall on Moh Guan Terrace, settle into the bunker-style space for playful drinks you can pair with yakitori-inspired cuisine. The mixologists here are known for the seasonal produce they use in cocktails, such as the floral Banks of Bincho with Mikan juice, shiso, Strega, whiskey, angostura bitters, and Peychaud’s aromatic bitters or the Pear Rosemary with pear, lime, grapefruit, rosemary, nigori sake, and vodka.
The Spiffy Dapper
Lovers of cocktails, gin, and all that jazz will adore The Spiffy Dapper and their 1920s-inspired drinks. By day, the place is a coffeehouse, but each night it transforms into a bar with more than 200 kinds of gin on hand. New drinks are created almost every week so there’s always something different to try. Order Shake on the Level, a cocktail inspired by Rudy Valentino, the world’s first bonafide movie star, for a confection of black tea infused gin, brown sugar, cardamom, lemon juice, and egg whites.
Those who crave classic old-fashioneds and twists on sours (how good does an Elderflower Sour sound?) should head to the intimate Flagship bar. Yes, it’s a whiskey bar and they have more than 200 labels, but it’s not your typical whiskey bar. It’s a bit divey, but in the best possible way, where you’ll want to sink into their booths and stay a while.
Yes, the middle of a shopping mall is an odd place to find one of Singapore’s trendiest bars. Still, you need to head down the dark stairway near Uma Uma Ramen in Forum the Shopping Mall if you want some truly inventive cocktails. The Horses Mouth staff changes the menu every two months based on seasonal and accessible produce. Recently, they were experimenting with sweet potato cocktails.
The Other Room
The Other Room isn’t exactly hidden (it’s in the Marriott), but this prohibition-inspired bar is worth a visit for anyone into small batch spirits. The Other Room takes spirits from around the world and ages them in-house in casks that had previously stored a different alcohol. The result is a menu full of cocktails you’ll never taste anywhere else.
The Secret Mermaid
Put simply, the Secret Mermaid is fun. A sushi and salad restaurant by day, the space transforms into a small bar at night. The bar manager likes to incorporate ingredients you’d eat every day in the drinks she whips up (think lots of fruit and vegetables) such as the Spice and Everything Nice with Privateer rum, mango, coconut cream, chili, lime, and vanilla bitters or the Beet It with Greenhook gin, beetroot, rose syrup, lemon, and lavender bitters.
The dingy staircase may make you think twice about heading to Operation Dagger, but down those stairs lies a hip underground bar serving up top-notch drinks. While their drink menu changes every three months, Operation Dagger is known for their cocktails made with in-house ferments.