We all have our go-tos for after work drinks and post-dinner tipples, but the new crop of bars popping up across the island this year are classy concepts that gather inspiration from enchanting cities, a history rich in rum, and a novelist you may have heard of: Ernest Hemingway.
Taking you from hotels to bustling streets, these three spots could be just what you need to switch things up in your nightlife escapades.
So you’ve got no travel plans for the moment. Still, you can fly across the Atlantic — without ever leaving the shores of Singapore — at Idlewild. Taking the original name of JFK International Airport in New York, the sleek bar creates a cozy ambience and gives off Mad Men vibes with its plush furnishings reminiscent of an elegant, Old World style. To complete the feel, the melodies of funk, soul, and jazz from the ’40s to the ’60s tinkle through the speakers.
Sit at one of the gold-rimmed tables and or snuggle into a booth with your date while you decide on a drink from a menu of 20 cocktails (and several bar snacks) inspired by 10 cities along the Transatlantic Route, including Rome, Casablanca, Lisbon, and Havana.
For a stopover in Paris, try The French Cook ($26), bubbly, refreshing concoction of chardonnay and gin with lemon, a dash of absinthe, and a skewered cube of sugar-coated jellied candy.
Next, fly off to Mexico, where the tropical Sugarloaf ($24) uses up almost every part of the pineapple in its preparation, mixing pineapple rum and cognac with house-fermented pineapple skin tepache, tamarind, lime, and sugar, plus a roll of pineapple leather and pickled watermelon rind.
If The Big Apple is your end destination, its namesake cocktail ($26) gets a modern twist with apple brandy, whiskey, and black walnut bitters.
Light bites to complement your drinks include the Dublin-inspired oxtail croquette ($18), Lima’s atun chifa ($18) of yellowfin tuna with wonton cracker, and Mexico City’s avocado fries ($15).
Lobby level of InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Rd. 6825-1045. Tues-Thurs & Sun 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore’s bar, situated right next to the restaurant concept by chef Alvin Leung, has no fancy names or titles.
Backed by a long history — like how it was home to Joseph Balestier, the first appointed U.S. Consul to Singapore in 1836, who made rum from the syrup of his sugarcane plantation — it doesn’t really need the ruffles. And seeing as how the hotel used to be lodgings for sailors, who loved their rum, the bar naturally strives to offer the largest collection of the spirit in the country.
Decked out in mahogany, hanging pendant lamps, and rattan cushioned bar stools, the 80-seater houses an array of over 250 wines and 160 rum labels, including the rare Silver Seal Fine Caroni Heavy Rume 1997 Wildlife series No. 2, a 22-year-old aged rum from the shuttered Caroni Distillery on Trinidad.
The menu starts you off before your “voyage” with $18 cocktails such as the Shim Highball with dry vermouth, pineapple and lemon juice, and honey syrup. When you’re feeling extra adventurous, it moves on to Explorer’s Favourites ($22 each) with highlights like the Peranakan Old Fashion made of aged rum, house-made falernum, honey, and bitters.
For more rum tales, scroll through the Explorer’s Signatures ($24 each), where aged rum features in drinks such as Remember The Balestiers, a mix of sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, cherry liqueur, and absinthe.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, 15 Stamford Rd. 6715-6871. Daily 4pm-midnight.
Having already made its mark in Hong Kong, the Ernest Hemingway tribute bar takes up a spot on the buzzing Keong Saik Road, just in time for its recent win at the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 awards. An homage to the novelist’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work The Old Man and the Sea, the concept, while larger in size here, is modeled after its flagship in Hong Kong, with a mosaic portrait of the writer and shelves of his books filling the space.
Naturally, the tipples ($17 each) are named after Hemingway’s classics, each leaning towards the experimental with an Asian spin. For example, The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a blend of marshmallow gin, lacto-fermented raspberry, citrus, and gruyere cheese, while the Green Hills of Africa combines rosemary-infused pisco with turmeric and tamarind cordial and citrus.
In addition, two drinks are influenced by monikers given to Hemingway: The Little Wax Puppy, featuring beeswax-infused bourbon with eucalyptus honey, and Papa Doble, made of pineapple sous vide rum, clarified pink grapefruit and lime, and maraschino sous vide japaleño.
#01-04, 55 Keong Saik Rd. 6909-5505. Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight.
With text by Tatiana Grosse
This article, 3 cool new bars in Singapore for cocktails inspired by travel, Hemingway, and history, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!