One of the newest cocktail bars to open up in the Keong Saik Road nightlife enclave, The Elephant Room Singapore, draws its inspiration from the various cultures of India.
Tucked on an upper floor of massively popular Michelin-starred elevated barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends is a cocktail bar that will seek to draw you into Indian culture. In fact, one of the first things that might just cross your mind is how The Elephant Room Singapore, located on Teck Lim Road just off the crowded gastronomic enclave that is Keong Saik Road, should really be located in Little India instead.
Let us explain.
The Elephant Room Singapore founder Yugnes Susela was sufficiently inspired by the different cultures of India – as well as the sights, sounds and flavours of Singapore’s Little India where he spent much of his childhood – to base his first-ever entrepreneurial venture on them. You certainly see India’s influence in the decor, but most glaringly in the menu where he tries as much to use Indian spirits and native ingredients of South Asia as he possibly can.
Now India-inspired cocktails certainly aren’t a new thing; we’ve seen the likes of Indian gastrobar Flying Monkey do something similar. But not many bartenders come with the kind of experience that Susela may possess; he cut his teeth in the bar scene at Tippling Club and that was followed by a stint as head bartender at Smoke & Mirrors, where he exercised culinary inspiration for some rather interesting gastronomic cocktails including one that incorporated duck fat.
That experience shows.
His first cocktail menu for The Elephant Room Singapore is well-composed and tightly curated; it is also a literal jaunt across Little India. Take Tekka ($22++), for example, which is obviously inspired by the market that sits at the edge of that part of town. This is a Rum Old Fashioned that uses Old Monk Rum, along with spiced palm sugar and even comes with a fancy edible garnish made from dehydrated banana skin.
Then there’s Jothi’s Flower Shop ($22++); this Gimlet is made with a jasmine-infused gin, and its fragrance is that of devotees with their jasmine garlands at the nearby Hindu temple. Otherwise there’s Buffalo Road ($22++); if you’re familiar with Buffalo Road in Little India you know it’s littered with fruit stalls, and here a pink guava infused gin is used for one of the most refreshingly unique gin and tonics we’ve had for a while.
The food menu is tiny and mostly plays a supporting role to the story being weaved here at The Elephant Room Singapore. But we’d come here any day for the Tamarind Curry Prawns ($24++), a spicy and tangy dish that can rival the best curries from restaurants across Little India.
But what about northern India?
“We’ll definitely be exploring other aspects of Indian culture in future menus,” Susela promises. “There are so many facets to India that the possibilities are endless.”
The Elephant Room Singapore
Address 20A Teck Lim Rd, Singapore 088391 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5.30pm to 12mn Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 9111 5131