Dive bar Flagship is no more; in its place is Jigger & Pony Group’s new mid-century Japan-inspired cocktail bar Live Twice.
Alas, Jigger & Pony Group‘s Flagship is no more. The grungy dive bar was a hit when it first opened on Bukit Pasoh Road back in 2015 – dive bars were a novelty then, especially one that actually served decent cocktails – but over the years the veneer slowly rubbed off. A renovation and thematic change to refocus on Old Fashioneds (a classic Jigger & Pony offering) helped revitalise its fortunes somewhat, but Flagship never got the kind of attention its more illustrious siblings Jigger & Pony and Gibson received.
So its owners called time on Flagship. And in its place is a concept that cannot be more different to Flagship.
Gone is the grungy, graffiti-splashed vibe throbbing with rock music; it’s now a more charming and cultured space that harkens back to the Ginza bars of mid-20th century modern Japan, when the economy was booming after its post-war recovery. Those Tokyo bars – a cosmopolitan amalgamation of Japanese and Western influences – attracted those who led successful professional lives during the day, but wanted to play just as hard when night falls. Hence the name Live Twice.
Maybe it’s also silent acknowledgement of the space’s reinvention.
But Live Twice also combines Japanese sophistication with Singapore sensibility; unlike a certain bar up the road it’s not Ginza-stuffy. Here there’s a printed cocktail menu to peruse, for example, and proper printed receipts at the end of the day.
Heading the bar now is principal bartender Yinying Leow, who along with Jigger & Pony Group bar programme director Aki Eguchi, has put together a 14-drink cocktail menu that’s split into two categories following its ethos of “One Life For Yourself, and One For Your Dreams”.
Think of “One Life For Yourself” as Jekyll, a more familiar approach to classic cocktails but with a modern update. We really enjoyed the Mizuwari ($25++), a truly simple twist on the classic Japanese highball using a blend of Nikka Coffey grain whisky and Nikka Coffey malt whisky that’s topped up with soft water from Hokkaido. Also delicious is XYZ ($25++), a tangy concoction of redistilled orange wine and Cointreau with a touch of orange verjus. Pear Alexander ($25++) is its pear take on a Brandy Alexander, and is a creamily sweet tipple that could double as dessert.
But it’s the Vesper ($25++) here you have to try – Live Twice’s signature cocktail sees Ki No Bi ‘Sei’ gin combined with Ketel One vodka, along with a touch of aperitif liqueur, to make this a powerful spirit-driven cocktail that’s truly tasty.
On the other hand, the other section that is “One For Your Dreams” is Hyde – where the imagination runs wild and more bizarre experimentations happen; cocktails in the latter category are actually named after geishas.
Consider Shallow River ($25++) – ironically a tall drink despite the name – which combines Bruichladdich Classic Laddie whisky with Okinawan black sugar that’s topped up with sobacha (buckwheat tea) for a full-flavoured, roasty profile. Or the rum-based Quiet Inlet ($25++), which will appeal to those who love their fruity flavours with its ume plum and apple notes.
On the other hand Snow Flurries ($25++) – made primarily with Kyro Koskue gin and Empirical Spirits Fallen Pony liqueur – is a more medicinal, botanical creation, while the First Light ($25++) is big on coffee notes.
There’s food too; and one can argue that the bar bites here are as good a reason to visit Live Twice as the cocktails. We’ll miss Flagship’s signature Pok Pok chicken wings, but the Japanese-style sandwiches – better known as sando – are amazing. Indeed the ubiquitous sando, which you can get from any convenience mart in Japan, gets a luxurious upgrade here. The Beef Katsu Sando ($32++) is a decadent wagyu beef cutlet sandwich, while the Five-Cheese Sando ($20++) is the cheese melt to die for.
We’ll miss the good ol’ Flagship, we really would. But Live Twice is the updated cocktail bar concept needed for the new century, and one that is unique enough to differentiate it in the crowded Singapore cocktail bar scene.
Address 20 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089834 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 12mn Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; 6pm to 2am Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Tuesdays
Tel (65) 9011 8304