We scour the bar scene to bring you the new and noteworthy. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! Melinda Murphy checks out NATIVE at Amoy Street to see what they have to offer. This bar serves up unique cocktails that use ingredients that are local to Singapore such as mango, turmeric, cinnamon, and more. It results in an unforgettable experience.
Once you find this funky hole-in-the wall on Amoy Street (there’s no sign out front), your taste buds will be tickled by flavours only found in Asia. Everything is sourced locally and everything has a story, which makes for a fascinating chat with the engaging bartenders. So, if you want to learn more about Asian flavours, you’re into sustainability or you’re craving some good conversation, this is the joint for you.
The chosen one:
My favourite was the Pineapple Arrack ($22), a Sri Lankan liquor distilled from coconut flower sap and poured over a giant block of ice, with a cinnamon-coated stick of pineapple on the side. This place is famous for Antz ($23), a drink topped with – you guessed it – real ants. The insects didn’t bug me, but the drink, made from Chalong Bay Rum, coconut yoghurt, dal-baked tapioca and soursop, did. The Geylang-inspired Red Light District ($19), which uses a performance-enhancing root, was a bit too medicinal for me. Truth? Most of the drinks weren’t something I’d order again, but the place is just so interesting that it’s worth a return trip. The founder has won lots of awards, so maybe I just hit the place on an off night.
The drinks aren’t cheap, so for a less pricey evening, order some wine or Japanese beer. You can also have straight drinks, but they’ll be made without any citrus and using only local spirits; no Chivas or Grey Goose here. As for food, they serve only pappadam chips with a sweet potato mash, which is tasty but not filling, so it’s best to eat before you go.
Last but not least:
The bartenders behave more like chefs or scientists, concocting new creations, even distilling their own flavoured gin with interesting names such as “Buddha Fingers”. They actually forage for their ingredients, plucking ants right off the ground and picking leaves from Singapore’s jungle. How do they know the items aren’t poisonous? “First, we rub them on our skin; then we rub them on our lips. If we get a reaction, we don’t use them.” That’s what I call dedication.
Love cocktails? see our review on this glamorous cocktail bar beach road