Tired of your usual bar bites? Here’s a list of some of our favourite drinking holes that happen to have some of the more unusual, locally-inflected eats that you can have with your tipples.
Do you sometimes feel uninspired as you peruse the food menu at your nearest bar? We know we do. In many cases it’s the same-old, same-old deep-fried something, which you order just to line the tummy to prevent getting too sloshed at the end of the night.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Thankfully things are changing, with many drinking holes upping their food game. We’re also starting to see many fine drinking establishments incorporating more local cuisines, offering cocktails and local food in their menus.
If you’re looking for a night out but want more familiar local grub with your drinks, check out these places.
Jigger & Pony thinks outside the (rice) box with “On The High Rice”.
Award-winning cocktail bar Jigger & Pony is known for many a good thing – including offering some of the finest cocktails and most immaculate service you can find in town – but when it comes to food it’s mostly light nibbles.
Not anymore. When it reopened last month after the dreaded circuit breaker period which shut down most cocktails bars across Singapore, it launched “On The High Rice”. This food pop-up features a range of locally-inspired rice boxes that’s a lot more filling than simple bar bites. You’re looking at the likes of the Beef Rendang, with spiced beef short rib atop rice, or the Dry Bak Kut Teh with sauce-drenched rice flanked by pieces of braised pork belly.
Alternatively there’s Bamboo Chicken, inspired by the perennial Dayak favourite featuring chicken cooked in bamboo, and served alongside braised tapioca leaves. Our favourite of the lot though has to be Biryani, a keto-friendly take on classic biryani but using cauliflower rice.
Jigger & Pony is still running the “The Decade Ahead” cocktail menu it introduced at the start of the year, so make the best of it before it changes. We’re big fans of the tangy pisco-based Cacao Pulp Sour, and likewise the simple yet refreshing Mineral Vodka Soda. For something stronger, you can’t go wrong with Madame President, an elegant twist of the Negroni that comes garnished with a Campari lollipop.
Oodles of noodles at Revamp Kitchen & Bar with China Whampoa Home Made Noodle.
If you’ve not heard of Revamp Kitchen & Bar, you’re missing out. The gastrobar’s drinks programme at this hole in the wall gastrobar along Tanjong Pagar Road is now headed by award-winning bartender Boo Jing Heng – the Singapore winner of Diageo World Class 2016, and previously of Tess Bar & Kitchen and Jigger & Pony.
We guarantee you’ll be impressed by some of the classic cocktails Jing throws up, such as a very well balanced Daiquiri or spirit-forward Vesper. But what we come here for is his signature G&T Martini, the very tipple that helped him land his Diageo World Class accolade.
What makes dropping in at Revamp even more interesting now is that they’ve just partnered with local noodle specialists China Whampoa Home Made Noodle. This means you can lounge over great cocktails while slurping on ban mian. You’re looking at the likes of Home Made You Mee with Crayfish or Abalone Mee Hoon Kwey – or Tom Yum Home Made You Mee if you like things spicy – even as you wash them down with Jing’s signature martinis.
In case your bar visit isn’t quite complete without chomping into something deep-fried to accompany your pints of beer, China Whampoa offers its famous wu xiang at Revamp too.
Not zero sum with dim sum and beers from Good Luck Beerhouse or cocktails at Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall.
There are very places in Singapore where you can have dum sum with your alcoholic libations – Mitzo at Grand Park Orchard being one of the rare ones – but fortunately there’s the conveniently-located Good Luck Beerhouse. This little hole-in-the-wall bar along Haji Lane rotates some 12 beers on tap – many of them local – that just happens to also offer a small dim sum menu to help sate those hunger pangs.
So you’re looking at the likes of Pork & Shrimp Siew Mai and Pork & Chives Dumplings with your Off Day Beer Easy IPA, or the BBQ Charsiew Pork Buns to go with a Singapore Beer Project Kiam Sng Di gose, this spot is for you. And to sweeten the pot, sister concept Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall recently relocated from its Boat Quay space to join Good Luck Beerhouse. Which, of course, means you get access to a plethora of great cocktails as well!
We totally enjoyed the Monkey Shoulder Penicillin Fizz and the Botanist Osmanthus G&T for their refreshing qualities; for something stronger the Tak Qiu Milo Old Fashioned should hit the spirited spot.
[Photo credit: Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall]
Go to OSG Music Bar + Kitchen for the nasi lemak, stay for the drinks.
With live entertainment currently banned due to social distancing measures, homegrown live music venue OSG Music Bar + Kitchen in Suntec recently pivoted to offering one of Singapore’s favourite local eats – nasi lemak. So where the music bar used to draw an office crowd from the surrounding buildings looking for after-work drinks, it is now drawing them in for this iconic rice dish.
The main attraction? While there are a handful of different nasi lemak variations, it’s the OSG Signature Nasi Lemak – which features blue pea flower and coconut infused basmati rice along with an entire mouthwatering retinue – that most people come for. You’re looking at fried chicken wing, beef rendang, sambal belado egg, achar, various sambals, and even a sambal mini lobster, to accompany the fragrant rice.
And befitting of a music bar, there’s a plethora of drinks to choose from – draught beer, wines, and even an assortment of spirits. OSG even has a bottled cocktail list, which they source from avant-garde cocktail bar The Old Man Singapore and even dance club Zouk Singapore.
OSG Music Bar + Kitchen | website | 3 Temasek Boulevard, #01-510/511 Suntec City Tower 1, Singapore 038983 | 9855 2826
You’ll love the modern cocktails and Asian dumplings at Dumpling Darlings.
We love Dumpling Darlings for many reasons, most of them being the different little Asian-style wrapped dumplings that the joint is known for. With dumplings from the familiar to the surprising, this spot on Circular Road in the Boat Quay nightlife district makes for a great pit stop before, or after, a heavy drinking session.
Expect dumplings the likes of The Original which is your typical Chinese jiaozi, but also the Veggie Mandu, a vegetarian take on Korean-style dumplings. There’s the less conventional Smoked Duck, which sees the familiar ingredients in a Peking duck crepe stuffed into a dumpling. Similarly, the Fried Pierogi is a deep-fried dumpling containing smoked bacon, truffled potato, caramelised onions, and cheddar that makes for an explosion of flavours.
What’s less known about the Dumpling Darlings is that it’s actually home to some very delicious cocktails as well. Their Apple Rye Whiskey was a refreshing yet spirit-forward surprise, while the Cherry Cognac was fruity but wonderfully complex. And if you’re not into cocktails, there’s a token but well-curated list of four natural wines to pick a vino from instead.
Dumpling Darlings (Circular Road) | website | 86 Circular Road, Singapore 049438 | 8889 9973
Lucky you, Sum Yi Tai has Lucky Mee.
We love Cantonese-themed bar Sum Yi Tai for its range of Chinese-inspired eats that make exceedingly beer-friendly bar bites, such as the Crispy Roast Pork and Maple Honey Glazed Char Siew, or even their Signature XO Carrot Cake, for example. But Sum Yi Tai earlier this year introduced their Lucky Mee pop-up, which offered Ipoh-style curry mee as well as a number of special side dishes we think would go swimmingly well in a drinking session.
Well Sum Yi Tai has extended the Lucky Mee pop-up indefinitely, so you’ll still be able to get their Malaysian-style Original Ipoh Curry Mee for the time-being. You get to choose from both soup and dry versions, and even get to pick your choice of noodles. We recommend that you add on some Ipoh Yong Tau Foo or a Roast Platter, but for an authentic Ipoh experience the Braised Pork Skin in Curry Sauce will prep you for a night of drinking.
To be sure Sum Yi Tai’s drinks programme is a little on the utilitarian side. To be honest though, we’d be happy with a tower of Tsingtao beer; otherwise a bottle of Macallan 12 Years Sherry Oak will sort the party out.
Roketto Izakaya spices things up with Nutmeg & Clove.
Dual concept Roketto Izakaya by veteran local chef Willin Low operates as a contemporary restaurant serving up mod-Sin eats during the day, but converts into a Japanese-style izakaya drinking hole in the evenings. Earlier in July, they tied up with local cocktail bar Nutmeg & Clove for a special month-long cocktail pop-up. The good news? They’ve extended that collaboration till the end of October.
This means you still have a bit of time to hit Nutmeg & Clove’s current “Tasty Origins of Our Five Pillars” menu – which taps on the cuisines of Singapore ethnic groups for inspiration – as well as several classic cocktails at Roketto. We’ve well opined of their most marvellous Roses & Lychee, a local bandung twist on the milk punch from that vaunted menu. But we do reserve our highest accolades for Nutmeg & Clove’s take on the classic Martini that’s concocted with a blend of The Botanist and Ki No Bi gin.
Now Roketto’s evening bar grub is more mod-Sin than authentically local; after all, Chef Willin is known for his liberal, avant-garde culinary approach to mashing influences and techniques. But we’d happily scarf down their Krapow Prata Pizza – a Thai-style basil and chicken mince atop a prata base – or the fancy twist on rojak that is the Aburaage Rojak Salad, complete with a shrimp paste sorbet that melts down to dress the salad.
If that sounds like your thing you may want to hurry though – the Roketto Izakaya x Nutmeg & Clove collaboration officially ends in end October.
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