Why go: Singapore’s original speakeasy, 28 Hongkong Street might be a little hard to find, but just look for an unmarked door and a glowing amber lamp and you’ll know you’re in the right place. Inside, there’s no photography allowed – no Instagramming! – and the bar keeps its social media presence discreet, too. But that doesn’t stop the hordes from packing the space each night.
What to order: With a wide variety of drinks all priced at SG$23, it’s really up to you to order what you feel like having in the moment. For something refreshing, there’s the Yeesuze, made with Ferrand Dry Curaçao, Suze gentian liqueur, grapefruit, lemon and mint – so fresh, Kanye would be proud.
Where to find: 28 Hongkong Street, Singapore, 059667
Why go: Be absolutely floored once you step into Atlas. The grand art deco-inspired bar is decked out in heavy drapes, tapestries and bronze balconies and looks like a European hotel lobby of the 1920s. It houses the largest gin collection of any bar in the world (more than 1,000 bottles) and is the place to try rare gins and Champagnes you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
What to order: The Atlas Martini (SG$24) is a stunner. It perfectly balances gin with Ambrato vermouth, orange bitters and a dash of Champagne vinegar for a kick of acidity. Alternatively, there’s always the Classic G&T (SG$19); ask for the bartender’s suggestion for which gin to choose.
Where to find: 600 North Bridge Road, Parkview Square, Singapore, 188778
Why go: Hidetsugu Ueno from Bar High Five in Tokyo is a bartending legend and one of his disciples, Daiki Kanetaka, brings that same Japanese sensibility and love for the classics to Singapore at D.Bespoke. The handsome 28-seat speakeasy is hidden behind a shophouse front selling the bar’s glassware and leather products.
What to order: You’re given a thick tome as your menu and there’s a minimum spend of SG$60 at this bar – but that’s not the scary bit. You’re not told the price of any of your food or drink, you just have to trust that Kanetaka and his team will deliver something you absolutely love. It also has a range of rare single malt whiskies, vintage calvados, Armagnacs and brandies in its collection.
Where to find: 2 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore, 089816
Why go: The best bar in Asia two years in a row and seventh on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, Manhattan is everything a grand hotel bar should be. Throw open its doors, sashay to the back of the room – if you can resist the plush leather banquettes and throw pillows – and take a seat at the well-stocked bar. Hospitality is king at Manhattan and the bartenders are sure to make you feel right at home.
What to order: The menu traces America’s history from the 1520s – when the early settlers first descended on the Hudson, inspiring drinks like First Voyage (SG$25) and Switchel ($26) – all the way to the 1960s when Mad Men ($29) ruled the town. Be sure to check out the bar’s rickhouse, where cocktails are aged in custom oak barrels, as well as Manhattan’s extensive range of American whiskies.
Where to find it: Level 2, Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore, 249715
Why go: This award-winning bar helmed by the affable Vijay Mudaliar is as creative as it is resourceful. He forages for local ingredients to incorporate in his drinks – including ants, which he turned into a best-selling cocktail on his first menu – and constantly strives to showcase spirits from around the region, changing perceptions of their quality and taste.
What to order: While the highly rated Antz is no longer on the menu, there’s Grasshopper (SG$23), a vegetal concoction made with macerated grasshopper purée. Native distils its own gins with flavours like coffee, matcha and seasonal rare fruits. Try them in a G&T or ask for a sample on the second floor of the bar where you can watch the distilling magic happen.
Where to find: 52A Amoy Street, Singapore, 069878
Why go: Nothing says mysterious speakeasy quite like a basement bar hidden along a back alley that’s only marked by an illegible scribble. The smell of burnt herbs and fermenting beverages hit you from the moment you open the door, but don’t let that put you off. Operation Dagger is a hotbed of creativity and cocktail craftsmanship you won’t find anywhere else in Singapore.
What to order: You’ve had an omakase meal at a sushi restaurant before, but how about at a cocktail bar? Let head bartender Luke Whearty and his team surprise you with food and cocktail pairings at SG$95 for three courses and SG$150 for five. If that’s too steep, there are always the classics like Hot + Cold (SG$25) and its range of natural house-fermented wine to fall back on.
Where to find: #B1-01, 7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore, 069791