Here be good cocktails —> X
It’s easy enough to find great cocktails in a cocktail bar – an excellent Old Fashioned in Jigger & Pony, for example, or the perfect Manhattan at Regent Singapore’s award-winning Manhattan Bar – but what happens when you stumble across a fabulous cocktail in the unlikeliest of places?
Here are seven different establishments in various spots around town you may not have heard of offering cocktails that may just surprise you.
Vegan restaurant HRVST – tucked away in a corner of the rooftop of OUE Downtown Gallery smack in the middle of Singapore’s Central Business District – is rather hard to find, but you’ll be glad when you do. Not only is its food menu an absolute boon for those following a vegan lifestyle, the cocktails at their open-air rooftop bar is likewise vegan-friendly.
Obviously inspired by their herb and vegetable garden, the cocktails here are strong on the botanicals. You might enjoy the Secret Garden ($20++), which combines rum, apple juice, cinnamon syrup and fresh lemon juice for a sweetly spiced tipple. If you’re wondering this rum-based sour uses aquafaba instead of egg white to help bind the drink together for that vegan-friendly touch. We also rather enjoyed the gin-based Birds & Bees ($20++), with lavender syrup and grapefruit bitters to give it its floral yet citrusy notes.
Just don’t get too distracted by the lithe, graceful practitioners in the yoga studio next door.
HRVST | 6A Shenton Way, OUE Downtown Gallery #05-01, Singapore 068815 | 11.30am to 2.15pm and 5.30pm to 9.45pm Mondays to Fridays; 11am to 3pm on Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 6920 7500
2. Telok Ayer Arts Club.
It may sound like some community centre initiative, but Telok Ayer Arts Club is a creative multi-concept venue by The Supermarket Company that comprises of a cafe, art gallery and event space that can be hosting a performance art session on one day and a live band on another. What’s particularly interesting for cocktail lovers is that the bar at Telok Ayer Arts Club is now helmed by Din Hassan (he was most recently at CE LA VI); and here the award-winning bartender let his creative juices flow in a big way.
We’re particularly intrigued by the “Southeast Asian classics” on Din’s menu, where he reinterprets the likes of our iconic Singapore Sling ($22++) and Malaysia’s signature Jungle Bird ($20++) into very refined and elegant versions; the former is far less sweet than its usual iteration, and its balance of sour and sweet, absolutely perfect. There’s also a section on reinvented classics, where we highly recommend the fabulous Cosmopolitan ($22++).
Best yet, Telok Ayer Arts Club is one of the few places you can get a decent cocktail during the day with a “day drinking happy hour menu” – we did enjoy our Basil Smash ($14++) during the heat of the afternoon, thank you very much.
Telok Ayer Arts Club | 2 McCallum St, Singapore 069043 | 11am to 11pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 6221 0712
3. Mister Wu.
Modern Chinese teahouse and noodle bar Mister Wu is always jam-packed during lunch hour for their delicious la mian noodle bowls, but if you’re a fan of Chinese tea they also have one of the more interesting selections they curated and exclusively imported for themselves.
More than that, Mister Wu uses some of those Chinese teas in various signature tea-based cocktails. We’re big fans of the White Jade Monkey King [齐天大圣] ($18++) which uses salted plum infused vodka and White Jade Monkey tea leaves, while the Spring Cherry Blossoms [十里桃花] ($18++) of rosebud tea, sakura vermouth, infused Luzhou Laojiao baiju and a touch of gin in possibly the best application of baijiu we’ve tasted so far in a cocktail.
Mister Wu | 3 Pickering Street, Nankin St, 01-44/45, Singapore 048660 | 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 6781 3833
4. Papi’s Tacos.
Casual, no-frills taqueria Papi’s Tacos along Seah Street is a favourite haunt for those hankering after that traditional Mexican street grub; chef-owner Mauricio Espinoza – though everyone calls him Papi – hails from Papalotla in Mexico and moved over from running the kitchen at Employee’s Only to set up his own casual taco joint. The tacos here are supremely authentic, with a variety of fillings lovingly encased in house-made tortilla shells.
His time at Employee’s Only has also done him well in the drinks department. The frozen Strawberry Margarita ($21++) is quite possibly the best version we’ve tasted for a while, its full flavours coming from agave syrup and fresh strawberries and without that off-putting artificial sweetness we find in far too many of its ilk across town. Their Classic Margarita ($15++) is exactly that – classic.
Papi’s Tacos | 39 Seah St, Singapore 188395 | 12pm to 2.30pm and 5pm to 11.30pm from Mondays to Fridays; 5pm to 11.30pm on Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 6258 0701
5. Yellow Pot.
Elegant Chinese restaurant Yellow Pot – located within boutique hotel Six Senses Duxton along Duxton Road – is best known for its homely yet contemporary take on modern Chinese cuisine, but what most people may not know is that it’s also home to a cosy little cocktail bar buttressed against the restaurant proper.
The cocktail menu here takes on the hotel’s chinois slant, borrowing inspiration from traditional Chinese medicine with the likes of its signature cocktail Escape to Kaifeng ($22++), put together with Tanqueray gin and a house-made chrysanthemum cordial, or the equally refreshing Chen Pi Collins ($22++), a take on the classic Tom Collins using gin that’s been infused with dried mandarin orange peel. For something more unique, go for the Martini Triad ($22++), a trio of martinis with different infusions and ingredients that will surprise you.
Yellow Pot | 83 Duxton Road Six Senses Duxton, Singapore 089540 | 5.30pm to 10.30pm daily | 6914 1428
6. Fung Kee Hotdogs.
Now we don’t normally point readers to Orchard Towers – we don’t quite cover that sort of nightlife – but Fung Kee Hotdogs is the kind of tongue-in-cheek we love. This casual Scandinavian-inspired hotdog joint on the fourth floor of the “Four Floors of Whores” really has only one item on its food menu – hotdogs, with a variety of toppings you can choose from, along with crisps and flæskesvær, or pork scratchings.
But the real reason you should come here is for its Negroni ($14); it may come in a plastic cup but it’s one of the richer, fuller-bodied yet better-balanced versions of the iconic Italian aperitivo you can find in town. And no surprise – Fung Kee Hotdogs is opened by Knut Randhem, previously head bartender at CE LA VI and Butcher Boy, so you’d expect the Negroni to be top-notch. Try his G&T ($12) too, if you prefer something more refreshing.
Fung Kee Hotdogs | 400 Orchard Road #04-23 Orchard Towers, Singapore 238875 | 7pm to 2am Sundays to Thursdays; 7pm to 3am Fridays and Saturdays | 6909 6295
7. Drink Drunk Donki.
You’d probably be surprised to learn that the flagship outlet of casual Japanese retail chain Don Don Donki at Orchard Central actually harbours a small little bar, hidden in the corner of the mall’s basement as it is. But while Drink Drunk Donki may be small, they actually have a pretty interesting repertoire of alcoholic drinks to suit almost any palate.
You’re looking at a list of eight different highballs, some five cocktails, and a range of both commercial and craft beers to choose from. We’re particularly partial to the Shiawase ($15), a rather potent concoction of different alcohol bases that we’d like to call the Japanese Long Island Tea, as well as the rather refreshing Kaku Yuzu Highball ($7). If you like your whiskies, a dram of Yamazaki 12YO here goes for just $16, pr $40 for the Yamazaki 18YO if you don’t mind splurging a little. For sake lovers there’s a separate sake list too; we rather enjoyed the Ikegame Junmai ($15 for 200ml). Prices are nett too!
Insider tip: There’s nothing stopping you from popping into Don Don Donki proper to pick up some munchies to go with your drinks here.
Don Don Donki (Orchard Central) | Orchard Central, B1 & B2, 181 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238896 | 12noon to 11pm Sundays to Thursdays; 2pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays | 6444 2422