There’s always something intriguing about a ‘secret’ bar. But location is just one of the reasons Operation Dagger is among the most exciting bars in Singapore. This award-winning Ann Siang venue has been recognised as among the best bars in Asia and the world. We decided to put its innovative cocktail menu, which includes ingredients such as caramel and oyster leaf, to the test!
This hidden underground bar, which currently ranks number six on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and number 24 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, has a raw concrete, sleek minimalist look that’s illuminated (though dimly) by a “light cloud” made up of thousands of bulbs (it’s truly something to see – and a pain to clean, I’m told!) – definitely a fitting look for the super-cool-but-chill-about-it vibes and cutting-edge drinks menu. It’s all about a flavour-centric, sensory experience here; so much that the menu doesn’t even indicate the type of alcohol used in each drink – just the ingredients used – to give bar-goers an experience that’s free of preconceptions, and all about tastes and textures. And, in place of brand-name bottles, brown apothecary-style bottles line the bar shelves to keep things extra top secret; these bottles are filled with spirits that have been redistilled and re-engineered with various ingredients for more focused flavours.
The Chosen One:
While some of the classics remain permanently, most of the menu changes every three months, which means there’s a string of new concoctions to look forward to by owner and head mixologist Luke Whearty. Inspired by his travels, Luke’s latest creations are definitely worth trying. Among the six new creations are the Caramello Koala ($25) – named after his childhood-favourite chocolate bar in Australia – which features cacao and eucalyptus, and has a delicious caramel filled olive at the bottom (sounds odd, I know, but it’s actually really good!), and the deliciously adventurous Oyster Ice Cream ($25), made with oyster leaf, Fino sherry, house distilled matcha, citrus cream and matcha sherbet; it’s light and different, with a pretty, frothy top. My hands-down favourite drink, however, is an oldie but goodie: the bar’s signature Gomashio 2013 ($25) with toasted sesame, cucumber and ginger – it tastes like a refreshing cucumber martini.
This place isn’t about happy hour or cheap drinks. They’ve got a couple of beers for $16 each, but it would be foolish not to indulge in a fun cocktail or glass of house-fermented “natural wine” ($22) here; we tried the sweet Tropicana (seven-day fermented pineapple, banana, passionfruit and sunflower honey) and it was very unique, in a good way (though more than one glass might have you overdosing on sweetness).
Bite on this:
The snacks menu is short, but great. The absolute must-try is the sinfully rich and buttery Yesterday’s Mashed Potatoes ($12) with Parmesan, truffle and crispy kale.
Last but not least:
These guys clearly know what they’re doing, so let the bartenders do the choosing with a three- or five-course omakase menu ($95 and $150), which includes drinks with snack pairings.
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