The new Jekyll & Hyde, recently relocated to Neil Road, combines an alfresco garden-like courtyard for dining and an intimate bar upstairs.
If you weren’t aware, Jekyll & Hyde has moved. One of the first bespoke cocktail bars in Singapore, it spent almost eight years at its original location on Tras Street before moving to its current location on Neil Road.
When it first opened in 2013, it existed as two distinctly separate identities – a nail parlour by day, and a speakeasy bar by night. That duality evolved over the years, but in the evenings it was always the same – a cocktail bar that had its own pool of regulars.
But landlord troubles over the circuit breaker period prompted owner Chua Ee Chien to search for another location. He found it on Neil Road, on the outskirts of the bustling Keong Saik dining and nightlife enclave.
The new Jekyll & Hyde continues this tradition of duality. On the upper floor of the shophouse space is the cosy cocktail bar it’s best known for. On the ground floor is its tandem concept, a kitchen championing modern twists on local and Southeast Asian fare.
An open air dining space in the courtyard fronts that kitchen.
“I know the area very well and saw an opportunity for Jekyll & Hyde to offer something different — a casual and unpretentious contemporary place where anyone will feel comfortable and simply enjoy a well-made drink with comforting soul food,” Jekyll & Hyde owner Chua Ee Chien says.
“We’ve also thought about designing a space that offers some of the romance of dining under the stars in a tropical climate while providing respite from the heat for guests who prefer to be indoors,” he added.
Whimsical drinks, elevated soul food
The cuisine is playful yet familiar. You’re looking at snacking fare like Chilli Crab Nachos – essentially nachos with a moreish chilli crab dip – as well as Gula Melaka Top Shell, which sees chunks of the shellfish tossed into a tangy, spicy salad with a touch of sweetness from the palm sugar. Surprisingly well executed is the Chicken Tikka, which attained a lovely sear despite the lack of a tandoor oven on site.
For more substantial eats, Kurobuta Fried Carrot Cake is hearty and comforting, the traditional hawker favourite is jazzed up with plenty of savoury bacon-like bits. We eyed the Braised Pig Trotter Bee Hoon too, but instead settled for Jekyll’s Hua Tiao Bee Hoon. This take on white bee hoon and chao ta bee hoon is an umami seafood bomb, with the glutinous rice wine lending amazing aroma and flavour to the moreish gravy. We wanted the Fresh Orh Lua too – attracted by the promise of oyster omelette loaded with plump freshly shucked oysters – but it wasn’t available the day we visited.
As for drinks, there is an eye-boggling cocktail menu bursting with choice for what is a small cocktail bar. With 16 signature drinks and 10 classic cocktails among a plethora of other options, it can be overwhelming for those new to cocktails.
The PB & J, a fun twist on the classic Boulevardier that features flavours of its namesake peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with peanut butter washed bourbon, along with vermouth that’s been infused with orange peel. The OG B&B is a dessert take on the Old Fashioned, bursting with banana, chocolate, and maple syrup notes.
If you prefer something more refreshing, Peach Please! is a gin sour that promises to be a crowd favourite with its tropical peach and mango flavours. Otherwise The Jungle Bird takes the signature Malaysian cocktail and adds a tequila spin to it.
“The new Jekyll & Hyde is a cosy, grown-up version of its previous self,” Chua declares.
Jekyll & Hyde’s dual concept has both advantages as well as flaws. It’s fun to pair what is elevated Asian hawker favourites with fancy cocktails for sure, which you can do in the casual, garden-like dining area downstairs but also at the bar on the upper floor. On the flipside, cocktails can get diluted very quickly outside in Singapore’s brutal heat, while food can get cold just as fast in the frigid air-conditioned bar upstairs.
But conflict, as Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson opines in his seminal work The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, exists whenever and wherever two different personalities exist in the same space. The juxtaposition of the two different settings in Jekyll & Hyde the cocktail bar perfectly displays that dichotomy.
Jekyll & Hyde
Address 74 Neil Rd, Singapore 088839 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 4pm to 10.30pm Tuesdays to Fridays; 11am to 10.30pm on Saturdays; 11am to 6pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays