Club 5, a social mecca famous among Singapore’s dance community in the 80s and 90s, is reinvented as a grandiose cocktail bar.
Ask anyone from Singapore’s thriving ballroom dancing circuit of the 80s and 90s, and chances are Club 5 would number amongst their choice destinations for a jivin’ good time. Over its 34-year history, the dance club drew dance enthusiasts from across Singapore for their famous ballroom dancing nights.
As part as PARKROYAL on Beach Road’s ongoing refurbishment, the iconic Club 5 was similarly slated for an upgrade. The plan turned out to be fortuitous; with COVID-19 measures still in place that restricts large social gatherings such as dance parties, Club 5 had the chance to pivot.
Enter Club 5 the cosy yet glamorous cocktail bar.
The new Club 5 marks one of the latest cocktail bars to sprout in Singapore’s historic district around Beach Road, joining the likes of Writers Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore, grand lobby bar ATLAS, and Madame Fan on South Beach Avenue.
Transformed into a bar that looks like it came out of the Roaring 20s, Club 5 offers an elevated drinks programme that pays tribute to the district it’s in. Young head bartender Ong Jun Han – former from Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall and Da Paolo Restaurant and Bar – has put together a cocktail list with names inspired by the culturally rich areas of Beach Road, Kampong Glam and Bugis that also gives one a glimpse into Singapore’s history.
For example, there’s the 20 Houses Tonic, a refreshing gin and tonic lightly spiced with a touch of cardamom. It’s named for Sir Stamford Raffle’s 1822 town plan, which had set aside 20 large houses for European merchants visiting the newly set-up port in Singapore.
Then there’s Nasi Lema’rgarita. This cheeky twist of the classic Margarita features ingredients and flavours more associated with the local Malay breakfast favourite of nasi lemak, combining coconut-infused tequila, the heady notes of sweet floral pandan, and dry curacao, and garnished with cucumber. The drink even comes with a side of ikan bilis and peanuts to complete the experience.
Fans of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail will be enamoured by Merchant’s Old Fashioned. This rather nuanced take is a spice bomb, concocted as it is with spiced rum, dry curacao, aromatic bitters, burnt orange, and a touch of vanilla. Similarly complex is Boogie Street, a gin sour. Named for legendary party central that’s Bugis, this cocktail has London Dry gin, mezcal, apricot brandy as its spirit base and is a lot punchier than it sounds.
There’s some decent bar grub for those feeling peckish too. The Chicken Kuih Pie Tee is a quirky take on the classic Peranakan favourite, its buah keluak dressing adding an earthy, umami touch. The Homemade Wagyu Satay is incredibly moreish, the big chunks of beef steak tender and juicy, and the hazelnut satay sauce a fun departure from the usual peanut version.
Our vote goes to the Crispy Lamb Ribs though – beautifully crisp on the outside, incredibly moist within, and seasoned with a well-considered mix of spices to mute any gaminess of lamb.
The new Club 5 may be all swanky and anew, yet it retains enough of its dance venue heritage that old-timers familiar with its past will find opportunities to reminisce. The dance floor still remains, awaiting a time when live music and dancing is again permitted. In the meantime, though, the cocktails are good reason to visit.
[Image credits: PARKROYAL on Beach Road]