When the Jigger & Pony Group opened up its American whiskey dive bar The Flagship along Bukit Pasoh Road slightly over a year ago, it was launched alongside its far swankier sibling, Gibson, in the same building. And while Gibson has gone on to win various awards, the far more casual The Flagship cruised along, garnering some rabid fans but otherwise never really making a mark in the finicky local drinking scene. That may now change with its recently completed revamp.
Even the owners acknowledge that The Flagship could do a lot better. “Previously when you walked into The Flagship, you enter from behind the bar. I realised guests (hesitated) as soon as they open the door, unsure about what the bar offers,” shares Indra Kantono, co-owner at the Jigger & Pony Group.
That’s now changed – after the recent renovation the bar has flipped around to face the entrance, making it far easier for head bartender Jerrold Khoo to greet customers as they step in. It’s also easier for guests to see the sprawling selection of world whiskies. “You only got one chance to make a first impression,” Kantono muses.
And while the mural-lined walls are retained, the previous seats that filled the alcoves have been removed and replaced with far more comfortable banquette style seating. The beer pong table that used to occupy the open space has also been removed – perhaps the fraternity-style beer-drinking from before doesn’t quite set the right atmosphere in the newly-envisioned space.
The cocktail menu has also seen a major overhaul. Whereas before there were only around three cocktails being offered, the new list almost rivals the selection at Gibson upstairs. Flagship now deems itself as the “home of the Old-Fashioned”, and the menu shows – you can choose from various iterations of the classic cocktail, or even build your own with a choice of whisky base and bitters.
If you’re too lazy to make your own, you can’t go too wrong with the Classic Old Fashioned ($22++), made with Bulleit bourbon and Angostura bitters; otherwise the Scotch-based Sherry Cask Old Fashioned ($22++), concocted using the Speyside Glendronach 12 Year-Old, barrel-aged bitters and, curiously, black sesame syrup, makes for a rich, syrupy experience.
Most interesting is its twist of the classic with its Wine of the South ($22++), borrowing familiar flavours of the Southern favourite peach iced tea with the use of Michter’s small batch bourbon, black tea syrup and peach bitters.
For those not quite so keen on the Old Fashioned, the Gin N Roses Reunion ($22++) is far more refreshing – the combination of Plymouth gin, Remy Martin, lime and sparkling wine perks up the palate and will instantly brighten your day.
But The Flagship’s regular whisk(e)y stalwarts will be glad to hear that the bar’s full whisky collection has been retained; in fact, it might have been expanded. Head bartender Jerrold Khoo is trained in interior design, and has used his design chops to adjust the new shelves so that they can accommodate even more bottles. Ask to try especially the new whiskey range from Westland Distilleries.
As for food, the signature Pok Pok Chicken Wings ($16++), a riff of the famous version from Portland, Oregon’s Pok Pok, has thankfully remained. The fried chicken wings have been tossed in a spicy, salty, sweet, and sour sauce that makes them utterly delectable, but is likely to make you reach for your drink often.
For those a bit hungrier, the Maine Lobster Roll (#39++), made popular by sister outlet Humpback next door and also recently offered at Gibson as well, is perhaps one of the best versions outside of the United States – and we credit that to the crunchy briny Japanese tobiko mixed into the mayonnaise, as well as the perfectly toasted sweet buns that lovingly encases the lobster pieces.
We can’t honestly say that the new revamp will change Flagship’s fortunes – the bar has dropped the definite article in front of its name – but we submit that it takes plenty of courage on the part of the owners to forge a new direction for the bar. To boldly go where no casual American dive bar in Singapore has gone before.
You can find the new Flagship at 20 Bukit Pasoh Rd.