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Cool bars in Singapore: Your ultimate guide to trendy drinking spots

By: Cherylene Chan

If there’s one thing expats are blessed with while living in Singapore, it’s the huge, oh-so-amazing selection of creative, cool bars in almost every neighbourhood. Want to jump on the bar-hopping bandwagon? We’ve combed the island for the hippest bars to visit, all the way from the East Coast to Sentosa. Whether you’re a firm fan of ice-cold pints or bespoke cocktails, there’s plenty of buzzy drinking holes to choose from here.

Boat Quay & Clarke Quay

Sweet view of the CBD
Sweet view of the CBD

Southbridge
80 Boat Quay, Level 5 | 6877 6965
This chic new rooftop bar offers a killer view of Singapore’s riverside landmarks. To complement their craft cocktails, beers, champagnes and artisanal Japanese sakes, its innovative small plates menu focuses on fresh seafood and oysters. Served in sets of six, the oysters come in tastebud-tickling varieties like the Umami – served cold and dressed in refreshing yuzu and ponzu – and the Unifeller – grilled with a layer of cheese.

Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
73 Amoy Street | 8655 0829
Headed by Sam Wong, formerly of Jigger & Pony fame, this no-frills speakeasy tucked away on the second floor of a shophouse has a welcoming, home-y feel. Together with his young protégés, Sam has nailed classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Sazerac. They’re also open to shaking up bespoke cocktails that appeal to your tastebuds. See for yourself in this video.

The Spiffy Dapper
61 Boat Quay | 8233 9810
Right next door to Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall, this speakeasy has a quirkier, old-timey vibe with vintage wooden furnishings and walls lined with oil lanterns. Aside from classic sips, they offer creative concoctions like Sheik on the Level, a fragrant blend of gin, Turkish tea, lemon juice and cardamom, served with a cube of Turkish delight. (Psst… word has it that they’ll be shifting shop soon. Stay tuned!)

FOC
FOC

FOC
40 Hong Kong Street | 6100 4040
Pronounced as it’s spelt, FOC is a buzzing cocktail bar serving Spanish and Asian-inspired tapas as well as affordable and expertly-shaken cocktails. Award-winning mixologist Dario Knox takes the craft of cocktails to the next level with a solera system to age a range of spirits and make FOC’s own syrups, infusions and bitters. His homemade lemon-agave gin and basil-lemon tincture are what make Smells Like Gin Spirit the dazzling little invention it is. The cool shophouse space has pretty zany décor too, like giant heads hanging from the ceiling.

Bitters & Love
118 Telok Ayer Street,  068587 | 64381836
Bespoke cocktails are the main game at this hip watering hole behind Shoebox Canteen. They have some serious liquor on hand to play with, too, including an impressive collection of gin. Test their knowledgeable bartenders with any ingredient and liquor you fancy, or have a go at their tried-and-tested list of favourites, such as a kaya toast-inspired cocktail. To line your stomach, their artful bar snack menu includes Rangers valley Wagyu beef cubes and satisfying deboned chicken wings.

Jalan Besar

The Refinery
115 King George’s Avenue |6293 1204
Opened just this month, this industrial-chic space has three floors each housing different concepts, including a bespoke bar headed by mixologist  Eugene Chua (previously from Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall) on the second floor. Find juicy yakitori skewers grilling on the first floor and a creative workspace on the third

Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru Bar
Tiong Bahru Bar

Tiong Bahru Bar
3 Seng Poh Road | 6438 4380
Nailing the casual mismatched aesthetic, this roomy watering hole offers five unconventional takes on the mojito, including one spiked with Kronenbourg beer, and a wide range of whiskeys. Spanish-influenced bites like seafood paella and beef tenderloin salpicado cubes make up the bulk of the bar grub.

Coq & Balls
6 Kim Tian Road | 6276 6609
Not one to take things too seriously (as its spunky name suggests!), this friendly neighbourhood bar is a perfect chill-out spot for its tidy list of ciders and craft beers. Want to pre-game before partying up a storm? Their infamously potent cocktails will sort you out in a jiffy. Try the intimidating Chuck Norris, a triple shot of green, blue and red absinthe set ablaze, or the Sudden Death, a sweet yet killer blend of Bacardi 151 and Malibu rum.

Tanjong Pagar

Potato Head Folk
Potato Head Folk

Potato Head Folk
36 Keong Saik Road | 6327 1939
Run by the same folks behind Potato Head Beach Club in Bali, this ultra-trendy, whimsically-decorated spot offers four floors of fun. On the ground floor, Three Buns Kitchen offers laid-back roadside seats, gourmet burgers and bottled cocktails. If you’re after colourful wallpaper and eclectic vintage, head to level two, if decadent glamour and classy bar snacks is your thing, hit Studio 1939 on level three, and if you love a fairylight-strewn rooftop, make that climb to level four.

Hopscotch
28 Maxwell Road, #01-04 Red Dot Traffic Building 
Sporting all the hallmarks of DIY industrial chic, this cosy hangout (opened by the group behind Mars Bar) specialises in creative cocktails with playful nods to Singapore’s culture. Popular options include the Arab Street, which is brimming with Middle Eastern flavours, and the Fortune Kaya Flip, a creamy sip of rum, pandan and an egg for body. Amusingly, the latter comes garnished with a homemade pandan fortune cookie, which holds words of wisdom typed up by the owner himself.

Jekyll & Hyde
Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde
49 Tras Street | 6222 3349
Gin aficionados will feel right at home at this bespoke cocktail bar, which takes pride in its collection of rare and delicately flavoured gins. While the menu changes quarterly to keep things fresh, their Asian-inspired signatures like Mr Bean – tau huay (sweet soybean pudding), butterscotch liqueur, kaya, frangelico and vodka – are foolproof favourites. And of course, they whip up excellent personalised drinks.

The Library
49 Keong Saik Road | 6221 8338
You’ll need a password to enter this hush-hush bar (hint: get it from the friendly staff at The Study next door), which is well concealed behind a façade of bookshelves. But once you’re in the low-lit space, you’ll be treated to cheeky cocktails served in all kinds of vessels, from classic coffee shop mugs to mini bathtubs. The gleaming copper bar-top is a pretty sight, too.

Mars Bar
Duxton Hotel, 83 Duxton Road | 9651 6714
Unassumingly housed in the lobby of a boutique hotel, this pop-up bar delivers inventive cocktails with bold local flavours. Peculiar creations include the Chilli Crab Cocktail, a gin-based tipple with a spicy punch from chilli crab paste and kaffir lime leaves, and the Teh Tradition, served warm with a strong herbal aroma. Guests are welcome to sit anywhere on the lobby’s eclectic antique furnishing, but we love being by the bar for a glimpse of their unusual ingredients and techniques.

Chinatown

Operation Dagger
Operation Dagger

Operation Dagger
7 Ann Siang Hill | 6438 4057
Searching for this basement bar, which is hidden in a rather non-descript building, requires a sharp eye. A glass door marked by an enigmatic symbol is your only clue to its location. Descend the dark staircase, and you’ll find a bitty, minimal space illuminated by thousands of clustered lightbulbs, and a spry trio whipping up intriguing cocktails and Asian-inspired bar bites.

Want to know more? Check out this video about the bar and its drinks.

Gem Bar
10 Ann Siang Hill | 6423 9562
On weekends, the fuss-free bar has tables spilling out onto the roadside, crammed with folks nursing beers, wines and strong cocktails. To pad stomachs, the bar also has a decent list of bar grub and heartier plates like the wagyu shabu burger and creamy avocado pasta. A revolving roster of established local DJs spin from Wednesdays to Fridays, covering everything from club anthems to underground tunes.

Nutmeg & Clove
Nutmeg & Clove

Nutmeg & Clove
10a Ann Siang Road | 9389 9301
Housed on the ground floor of a Cantonese clan association, this bespoke bar pays tribute to its surroundings with décor reminiscent of an olden Chinese medicine hall and cocktails inspired by Singapore’s colonial era. Traditional herbs and ingredients like Chinese hawthorne and red dates are commonplace here, and bring an unexpected depth to each drink. To complement the cocktails, order locally inspired nibbles like prawn paste buffalo wings and nutmeg and clove-flavoured pancakes with bak kwa, maple syrup and spiced cream cheese.

Oxwell & Co
Oxwell & Co

Oxwell & Co
5 Ann Siang Road | 6438 3984
Oozing kooky British flair, this four-storey establishment serves home brews, artisanal wines and on-tap drinks like Gin & Tonic and Cuba Libre. The grub here is a modern take on British fare, with familiar dishes like Yorkshire pudding with pureed roast garlic and Welsh salt marsh lamb rump. Impressively, many of the dishes and drinks are infused with ingredients freshly picked from their rooftop garden.

Bar Naked
95 Club Street | 6423 4695
Rather than keep a fixed menu, this industrial-chic watering hole will play host to new, unconventional concepts each quarter. At the moment, it’s occupied by liquor giant William Grant & Sons, who’ve created a menu that showcases their stable of spirits, including Monkey Shoulder scotch and Hendrick’s Gin.

Sugarhall
102 Amoy Street | 9732 5607
This buzzy bar is named after their wide selection of sugarcane-based rum. There are over 60 different types on hand and 18 specialty cocktails like the Mai Tai a la Sugarhall, a syruppy yet somewhat lethal blend of Rhum-Rhum Blanc Agricole, Myers Dark Rum, spiced apricot brandy, lime, almond and orgeat syrup. Going down a treat with the drinks are tender charcoal-grilled meats and a relaxing ska and reggae playlist.

Jigger & Pony
Jigger & Pony

Jigger & Pony
101 Amoy Street | 9621 1074
Drawing both well-dressed corporates and creative sorts, Jigger & Pony’s all about classic cocktails shaken up with the meticulous Japanese method of bartending. The menu is divided into Old Fashioned, Forgotten Classics and Modern twists, urging guests to try familiar tipples in lesser-seen forms. For serious drinkers, they also offer whiskey and gin flights that let you taste three strains at a time. The nosh here is simple yet elegant, with star dishes like mushroom risotto balls and pork belly.

Bugis and Arab Street

The Beast
The Beast

The Beast
17 Jalan Klapa | 6295 0017
If Bourbon is your poison of choice, this restaurant and bar is sure to spoil you. The owners stock over 30 types of bourbon, including rare bottles, and even barrel-age them for their unique cocktails and shots. For a Southern classic, try Mama June’s Sweet Tea, a syruppy cocktail made with Redemption High Rye Bourbon. The kitchen dishes out Southern fare like addictive pulled pork sliders (we almost wish these were full sized) and juicy Southern Fried Chicken. Guys will be pleased to know that every Wednesday here is Gentlemen’s Night, with whiskeys and cocktails going at special prices.

 

Blu Jaz
Blu Jaz

Blu Jaz
11 Bali Lane |+65 9821 6961
An oldie but a goodie, Blujaz keeps a steady crowd that returns for its eclectic décor, affordable prices and funky music. Live jazz and soul bands keep things upbeat on the first floor, while the second and third floors frequently host dub, bass, reggae and hip hop parties on weekends. To stoke your spirits, they have a reliable list of beers, wines and liquor, as well as Western and Asian comfort food.

Maison Ikkoku
Maison Ikkoku

Maison Ikkoku
20 Kandahar Street | 6294 0078
This tiny shophouse hideout is fuelled by mixologist Ethan Leslie Leong’s superb skill. Both the personalised drinks and fancy signature cocktails are ace here, and there’s a snazzy view of Kampong Glam if you grab a rooftop seat early.

The CBD

The Secret Mermaid
The Secret Mermaid

The Secret Mermaid
10 Collyer Quay, #B1-08 Ocean Financial Centre | drink@thesecretmermaid.com
Hidden behind casual Japanese takeaway Shinkansen, which shuts after 5pm, this discreet bar is only detectable if you recognise its heavy metal sliding door. Squeeze into the tight space to find an exciting collection of small-batch American spirits, each infused with curious flavours (smoked salmon vodka anyone?). The knowledgeable bartenders will be more than happy to recommend you a pour and tell you all about its creation. Aside from tasting flights, where you can sample three types of spirits at a go, Secret Mermaid also has a neat list of classic cocktails with a surprising twist from the unique booze used. To line your stomach, reach for bites like truffle oil-splashed tater tots.

Loof
Loof

Loof
331 North Bridge Road, #03-07 Odeon Towers | 6338 8035
Whimsical rooftop bar Loof is a hit for its Asian-inspired drinks and snacks (can’t go wrong with chilli crab cheese fries), lush grooves and sweet views of the CBD. And let’s not forget their uber entertaining beer pong table! Head up early to enjoy their amazing happy hour – drinks are $5 from 5-5.59pm, $6 from 6-6.59pm, and $7 from 7-7.59pm.

Altimate
1 Raffles Place, Level 61 | 6438 0410
Part of 1-Altitude’s triple-venue concept, this swanky neon-lit ultra-lounge has a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Mingle amongst its plush leather booths or dance atop the window-side ledge, as cutting-edge lasers throw wicked shapes to hip hop and dance hits. Need to fuel your tank? Besides the usual suspects, they have a decent list of Champers and cocktails. If you feel like getting a spot of fresh air, climb up to 1-Altitude’s rooftop for live bands and a cool breeze.

A beautiful view of the bay area - with or without fireworks - at Orgo
A beautiful view of the bay area – with or without fireworks – at Orgo

Orgo
8 Raffles Avenue, Rooftop of the Esplanade | 6336 9366
Want to enjoy a rooftop view of the city skyline without working up a sweat outside? Orgo offers a unique fix – the intimate bar is enclosed in an air-conditioned glass cube. Orgo means ‘organic chemistry’, and its cocktail menu has a fitting focus on organic ingredients.

Overeasy
1 Fullerton Road, #01-06 One Fullerton | 6684 1453
Smack next to the waterfront, this chilled-out bar has a lovely al fresco area overlooking the river. Aside from the breezy locale, it boasts a decent drinks list, including specialty cocktails, and deviously delish American diner-style fare. They’ve recently beefed up the food menu to include comforting dishes like Mac & Cheeks – Gruyere and parmesan cheese-drenched macaroni with tender braised beef cheeks.

For a more laidback vibe, Kinki's where you want to be
For a more laidback vibe, Kinki’s where you want to be

Kinki
70 Collyer Quay, #02-02 Customs House | 6533 3471
A popular haunt in the CBD, this grungy urban rooftop bar offers panoramic views of Marina Bay Sands, specialty cocktails and addictive Japanese bites to tide you over before dinner. We’re fans of the Kinki nachos – nori rice crackers laden with peppery beef, guacamole and sour cream. Music runs the gamut from funk to Top 40s hits.

LeVel33
8 Marina Boulevard, #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 | 6834 3133
Here’s one for beer lovers. Rooftop gastrobar LeVel33 has an in-house craft brewery bubbling up six different types of beer, including a smooth and fruity wheat beer, a punchy IPA, and a seasonal brew that changes every few months. Their modern European cuisine employs the sudsy stuff too, with beer-infused dishes like slow-baked veal ribs and an impressive bittersweet stout and espresso affogato. Its swell view of the skyline is just icing on the cake.

Lantern Bar
Lantern Bar

Lantern
1 Fullerton Road, The Fullerton Bay Hotel (Rooftop) | 6597 5299
If you haven’t heard of Lantern Bar, then you’re missing a serious view across Marina Bay in an oh-so-plush setting. It’s set on the rooftop of the Fullerton Bay Hotel – think gorgeous swimming pool, mood lighting and a large, airy bar that looks across the city from all open sides. Now, this won’t be a cheap affair, but it will be memorable. While you’re up here, indulge in exquisite Champagnes, signature cocktails, beers, spirits and gourmet Western nibbles.

Orchard

Cloud
Cloud

Cloud
9 Scotts Road | #01-01 Pacific Plaza | 8522 4534
Combining classy furnishings with pop art and street accents, this two-storey space is both a bistro-bar (level one) and an ultra-lounge (level two). Up top, classic cocktails get a creative, weather-themed update by mixologist Sham Hussain, previously from Supperclub and Zafferano. Expect to shake your tailfeather to a mix of house, hip hop and R&B. Downstairs, the bistro serves Western fare like poulet roti and rillette on bread.

Manhattan
1 Cuscaden Road, Level 2 The Regent Singapore | 6725 3377
This swanky vintage New York-style bar is perfect for those who appreciate the dapper Mad Men era. It’s also the first bar in the world to have an in-hotel rickhouse, where American oak barrels are used to store fine spirits, as well as age bitters and single-cask cocktails. If that’s not cool enough, a special ingredient room has shelf upon shelf of jars full of cool finds like smoked sea salt and wild cherry bark. New York City’s different ‘hoods, from the Upper East Side to the Spanish Harlem, have inspired the cocktails here. Stand-outs include the Box Office Smash, a combo of bourbon, ginger-apple syrup, lemon and organic mint, accompanied with a pot of salted caramel popcorn. If you’re feeling peckish, graze on American bar bites like street style hot dogs and Maine lobster roll.

The Horse's Mouth
The Horse’s Mouth

Horse’s Mouth
583 Orchard Road, #B1-39 Forum The Shopping Mall |65 8188 0900
This Japanese-influenced bar is as discreet as they come – hidden in the basement of Forum with no signage and doors blending into the wall. If you want to skip the 007 experience, enter via Uma Uma Ramen restaurant just above on the ground floor. The sleek and sophisticated spot has a solid range of sakes, whiskeys and excellent cocktails like the Bison Grass Martini – Zoladkowa Vodka, calvados and dry vermouth. Their small but tasty list of nibbles includes seafood tempura and deep fried brussels sprouts.

Elixir Bar
321 Orchard Road, Kuvo, #02-01 Orchard Shopping Centre | 6733 8272
Part of new multi-concept space Kuvo, this intimate 40-seater drinks den offers bespoke cocktails created by Japanese bartender Yukata Nakashima. With over 16 years of experience both in the kitchen and behind the bar, Nakashima likes using peculiar ingredients like blue cheese to give his drinks an unexpected gourmet twist.

Holland Village

neighbourhoods in singapore, housing in singapore, housing at pasir ris
The East Coast has a slower pace of life

Park
281 Holland Road | 9721 3815
Nestled at the end of Holland Village’s community park, this friendly watering hole gets brownie points for its efforts to go green. Fashioned with metal bits from shipping containers, it’s partly powered by solar panels on the roof. Aside from run-of-the-mill tipple, it also has interesting craft beers and ciders, as well as hearty Western bar food like steamed mussels and spiced wedges.

The Pit
21 Lorong Liput | 6468 3468
This casual, airy bar serves up excellent beers from Archipelago Brewery and addictive American nosh like buffalo wings (choose from four different flavours) and jalapeno poppers. Look out for their lively quiz nights, too.

2am: Dessert Bar
2am: Dessert Ba

2am: Dessert Bar
21A Lorong Liput | 6291 9727
There’s plenty of fantastical surprises the moment you step into this slick looking bar, such as chocolate-painted booth tables and coral-shaped gummy candies glowing along the walls. Best known for its artistic desserts, the late-night spot has recently branched out into cool Japanese-inspired cocktails and elegant savoury bites like a pork belly burger and ricotta pasta pouches. It also boasts a well-curated list of beers, Champagnes, wines and spirits that are meant to complement the desserts.

East Coast

The Trenchard Arms
The Trenchard Arms

The Trenchard Arms
47 East Coast Road | 6348 8568
This eclectically-decorated Brit-style pub specialises in small-batch craft ales as well as lesser-known bottled beers and ciders. Pair the brews with proper British bites like homemade scotch eggs with HP sauce, Stilton and cheddar ploughman’s and fish and chips.

Alibabar
125 East Coast Road | 6440 6147
Housed in an old coffee shop, this semi-alfresco joint retains much of its retro feel, even selling traditional kopi and local snacks by day. At night, it offers over 65 different types of ice-cold craft beers and a sinful spread of grub from food stalls like The Burger Bar (gourmet burgers) and Tish Tash Tosh (pizzas, subs and pastas).

Mad Nest (photo: Alfie Pan)
Mad Nest (photo: Alfie Pan)

Mad Nest
378/380 East Coast Road | 6348 6861
A hip eatery and art space rolled into one, Mad Nest boasts an extensive variety of bottled beers, ciders, spirits, Japanese sake and more. If you have an insatiable sweet tooth, try their signature choco martini, a blend of Absolut Vanilla, Bailey’s and milk. While they’re known for serving a smorgasbord of cuisines during the day, their nighttime bites are simpler, featuring tapas like escargot-stuffed mushrooms and cheese frites.

The Cider Pit
328 Joo Chiat Road, #01-03 | 6440 0504
As its name suggests, this no-frills watering hole stocks an immense list of ciders and ales from Britain and beyond. The drinks roster changes depending on what’s available, and they occasionally bring in rare bottles in limited batches, so craft beer loves always have a reason to return. To settle your stomach, they also serve a small, fuss-free range of pub grub – think sarnies and chips.

Sentosa

The closest thing to Bali's famous Potato Head Beach Club in Singapore? We think so...
The closest thing to Bali’s famous Potato Head Beach Club in Singapore? We think so…

Tanjong Beach Club
120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa | 6270 1355
With cushy daybeds, an al fresco bar, a big pool and indoor/outdoor dining areas, Tanjong Beach Club is one of our favourite spots for a weekend laze – particularly because kids and dogs are welcome along. Aside from always-reliable beer buckets, the bar keeps a decent list of champagnes, wines, spirits and cocktails. For a full speed trip to tipsy town, down the Tanjong Fly – vodka, lychee, dry curacao, fresh lime and pineapple juices, grenadine and bitters. Food keeps a seafood-heavy slant, with dishes like steamed mussels and whole ruby snapper in scallion vinaigrette.

Dempsey

House
House

House
8D Dempsey Road | 6475 7787
Formerly a British army barracks, this playful café and bar is a great spot for brunch as well as post-dinner drinks with the girls. Amid its lengthy drinks menu are signature cocktails like the Tiffin Punch, a fruity tropical blend of gin, lychee liqueur and grapefruit. If a late-night tea party floats your boat, order a round of their scrummy, old-fashioned desserts that even your gran would approve of. We recommend the orange blossom carrot cake.

The Green Door
13A Dempsey Road | 6476 2922
This delightful garden-like bar has great outdoor seating that overlooks lush trees glowing with fairy lights. Indoors, the bar staff conjures fun cocktails served in kooky glasses and jars. Try the Raunchy Redhead – vodka, triple sec, fresh watermelon, lime juice and kaffir leaves – or the Terrible Tyler’s Threesome with vodka, lychee liquor and fresh passion fruit, apple and lemon juice. Of the hearty bar snacks, we like the crispy pork ribs and spicy garlic parmesan wings.

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