Jungle Ballroom at Mondrian Singapore Duxton is a contemporary cocktail bar inspired by the sights, sounds and mystery of tropical Asian jungles.
“Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and gamesWe got everything you want honey, we know the names We are the people that can find whatever you may need If you got the money, honey, we got your disease”
So sang Guns N’ Roses during the ’80s. And while Jungle Ballroom isn’t anywhere as near the drunken debauchery of that drugs- and sex-fuelled era the American hard rock band were belting about, the newly-opened cocktail lounge at Mondrian Singapore Duxton does promise one a good time.
Especially if you love your cocktails.
Tucked away behind hidden heavy velvet curtains on one discreet side on the third floor of the hotel – where the main reception and Italian steakhouse Bottega di Carna are located – Jungle Ballroom is built as a contemporary watering hole for those among us who might prefer a more quiet and discreet drink. You can also enter from the opposite direction through a similarly clandestine arched outdoor walkway, but either way it’s a dark and pensive den that you’ll find yourself in.
Holding court at Jungle Ballroom is Head Bartender Adrian Besa. Cocktail hounds will remember the acclaimed bartender from his days at MO BAR, where he helped drive that cocktail lounge’s heady ascent into the upper echelons of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Together with his team – and working closely with hospitality consultancy Proof & Co – Besa has put together a steamy cocktail menu that combines modern mixology, Asian ingredients and untamed jungle inspiration.
It’s a wild trip. You’ll be taken through an extraordinary explorative journey top-down through the jungle, from the dense canopy all the way to the tangled undergrowth.
Start, for example, with High Water. You’ll luxuriate in this cachaça-based highball that’s spiked with lemongrass, soursop, and ginger notes, especially if you’re trying to refresh yourself from Singapore’s ridiculously humid climate. Or Rose-Hued Waterfall, a wine spritz made from pet nat rosé and white vermouth with a touch of turmeric and pomegranate.
But it’s the lush, more spirit-forward tipples at Jungle Ballroom that really impress. The Shrub, for example, is a take on the classic Negroni with lashes of nashi pear and anise-laden fennel, but it’s the touch of vinegar that really lifts what is normally a very rich sip. Then there’s also The Lost Ruins, a racy Martini made dirty and naughty with racilla, fennel, bitters and a splash of champagne vinegar.
Or the fabulous Queen of the Jungle, a Manhattan with strong herbaceous and nutty notes. Sheena would be so proud to have this tipple named after her.
The bar bites at Jungle Ballroom is a mix of modern Asian eats that draw inspiration from around Asia. ‘Chicken Rice’ Crackers make for particularly fun nibbles, especially when you dip those thin rice crisps into the accompanying chilli romesco sauce, while the juicy Spicy Cumin Lamb Ribs – an elevated take on the Xinjiang lamb skewers – come highly recommended.
The offerings at Jungle Ballroom, like untouched nature, are likely to evolve. Besa looks to regularly embark on excursions around the region, holding temporary residencies in unique bars not only to learn from others but also discover new ingredients and liquors.
“We will not only source spices and other ingredients from around the region — we’re also bringing in spirits from across Southeast Asia,” he says. “We have a spirits importing license so we can access some very interesting and rare things. We will have the most extensive Southeast Asian spirits collection of any bar in Singapore,” Adrian promises.
In the meantime, though? Welcome to the Jungle Ballroom.
[Images courtesy of Mondrian Singapore Duxton]
Address 16A Duxton Hill, #03-03, Mondrian Singapore Duxton, Singapore 089970 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5pm to 2am Wednesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Tel (65) 6019 6005