Beloved rum bar Sugarhall makes its return after four years, and comes back as an upscale rum-focused cocktail pub.
Those of us long enough in Singapore’s cocktail scene may remember Sugarhall. The rum bar opened up in 2014 as Jigger & Pony Group’s second cocktail bar concept, and quickly established itself as a favourite watering hole for those who loved their rum.
The old Sugarhall was where I – and many others – had their first Rum Old Fashioned. They made Daiquiris sexy, and their intoxicating rum punch bowls were the stuff of inebriated legends. It was also one of the first bars in town you had access to a large selection of rums, many of which you could sample by the dram. It became so well-loved the bar even got itself on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list once, placing No.38 in the 2017 edition of the awards competition.
Then it closed in 2018.
No reason was given, but industry scuttlebutt pointed at issues with the landlord.
Since then many rum-focused bars have opened – think Origin Bar at Shangri-La Singapore, or the Bar at 15 Stamford in the Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore. But none of them have the raucous conviviality that Sugarhall possessed in spades.
Now it’s back. Jigger & Pony Group recently took over a multi-storey art deco heritage building right in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District where steakhouse The Black Swan used to be, opening modern Californian fine-dining restaurant Rosemead on its first floor. The new Sugarhall occupies the upper storey, in the space that was once cocktail lounge The Powder Room.
Version 2 moves away from the heavily wood-accented, slightly Tiki feel of version 1, to a decor more sleek and elegant. Its walls are festooned with photo frames, each of them featuring personalities in Singapore’s cocktail scene who helped made Sugarhall what it was.
It’s been rebranded as a cocktail pub – as opposed to a cocktail bar. “We wanted to retain the casual conviviality the original Sugarhall was known for,” Indra Kantono, co-founder of the Jigger & Pony Group, tells us.
Bar operations manager Davide Boncimino is a familiar face (he formerly fronted Limehouse, The Other Room, and Madame Fan), while principal bartender Sam Loh is a Sugarhall alumnus. They’ve assembled a cocktail list that’s as updated as its decor – similarly less Tiki in style, and more contemporary fun twists to classic cocktails.
For example, their Dark & Stormy is a turbo-charged version. It combines an 8-year old Hampden Overproof rum with house-made ginger beer made in collaboration with local brewery The 1925 Brewing Co. Still crisp and refreshing, but possessing a spicy bite and rich rum notes.
Then there’s their take on the classic Daiquiri, but in this case sees a blend of Barcardi Superior 1909 Barbados and Jamaican Veritas rums for a more nuanced balance. Prefer a wilder twist? Their Mulata Daiquiri eschews the usual crème de cacao for cacao nibs, while a chinato vermouth and some wild plum eau de vie provide additional depth to the Flor De Caña 12 Years Old based drink.
Those who enjoy a fruiter cocktail can go for Hotel Nacional. Their version explodes with huge tropical notes from the use of house-pulped pineapples, while a blend of creamy Matusalem Solera 7 years rum from Dominican Republic and spicy Mount Gay Black Barrel rum from Barbados ensures an alcoholic kick.
For something more spirit-forward, the Cuban classic that is Il Presidente is sure to please. Here the usual dry vermouth is replaced with a combination of sherry vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, and Marsala for more complexity. You may balk at its price, but bear in mind this punchy tipple is made with quality rum, in this case an Appleton Estate 15 Years Old Black River Cask.
Similar for the Cho-co n’ Oil, their rendition of the classic Caribbean Corn n’ Oil. Rich Doorly’s XO rum is balanced by the herbaceous bitterness of falernum, while a touch of coconut oil provides a tropical, nutty touch.
The old Sugarhall also had a creative food menu. But at the time of our visit the resurrected bar hasn’t quite nailed down its food offerings as yet. I’ll be back to the new Sugarhall for sure when that happens.
And I couldn’t be happier with its return.
Address 19 Cecil St, Level 2, Singapore 049704 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 4pm to 10.30pm on Wednesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Tel (65) 9815 0246