Reservations-only cocktail den Bar Kakure, hidden on an upper floor of a Scotts Road colonial bungalow, offers the ultimate contemporary Ginza-style Japanese bar experience.
The measured swirl of the bar spoon, followed by a deft flick to lift the ice.
An intricate dance with the cocktail shaker, for the perfect blend of dilution and aeration.
The careful, precision placement of a garnish.
Japanese bartending is as much performance as it is a way of making cocktails. Particularly Ginza-style bartending, named for the district in Tokyo well-known for its intimate yet formal watering holes that’s become a gold standard in the cocktail world.
And now there’s a brilliant representation of this, displayed at a bar tucked away on an upper floor of a resplendent colonial bungalow along Scotts Road above Japanese kappo-style fine-dining restaurant Ki-sho.
Once you finally manage to locate the bar, that is, hidden as it is behind a nondescript sliding door that can only be unlocked using a secret code. Which you don’t get if you don’t make an advanced booking.
Opened in 2021, Bar Kakure is an understated, intimate ten-seater cocktail bar dripping with contemporary Japanese minimalism. Patrons sit along a long bar counter, behind which bartender-owner Kazuhiro Chii holds court. This is quintessentially Ginza – all eyes are on the bartender and his craft. Sure, you can gaze over Chii-san’s shoulders at busy Scotts Road once in a while, but chances are you’re going to be dazzled by the impeccably dressed veteran bartender at work anyway.
His signature three-point shake – first at face level, another series near the collarbone, ending off near the heart – in particular.
Like most Ginza bars, Bar Kakure offers a blend of classic and signature cocktails. And, of course, the “fresh fruit” cocktail, where you select from a range of fruits in season to be turned into a tipple of your liking.
Signatures are simple, but effective, twists to tried-and-true classics. The “和” Wa Mojito eschews the usual white rum base in a mojito for umeshu for a fruitier version, while shiso leaves – instead of mint – offer a peppery bite. The Sakura-Sakura is a dry sake-based martini imbued with sakura, and if you prefer your sweeter martinis, the Drunken Pooh Martini with its apple and honey notes – and cheekily garnished with a gummy bear – will delight.
Many of Chii-san’s cocktails come picture perfect. The Beauty & The Beast – combining vodka, pink grapefruit, orange liqueur, and rose syrup – is a liquid tribute to the Disney fairy tale that comes complete with a rose bud (it looks more Sleeping Beauty, but I digress). Gold Rush is similarly enchanting, the twist on the French 75 absolutely mesmerising with its gold flakes dancing within.
As with any Ginza-style bar worth its shio, Bar Kakure’s classic cocktails are excellent. And don’t sneer at some of the entry-level spirits and liqueurs at the back bar. Chii-san – whose cocktail journey traverses over 20 years in various bars across Yokohoma, Tokyo, and then Singapore, where he was head bartender for Waku Ghin – transforms them into fabulous classics, from the White Lady and Martini to the Old Fashioned and Manhattan.
Don’t expect much in the way of a food menu; the focus here are the drinks. But what is available are all worth ordering, from the Curry Chicken Lollipops – basically spiced karaage – and Toro Katsu to the incredibly scrumptious Mini Miyakazi Wagyu Curry Rice.
Bar Kakure may not be Singapore’s first Ginza-style bar, but Kazuhiro Chii’s combination of the best in Japanese bartending tradition and modern sensibility makes this spot a must-visit for any cocktail lover.
Address 29 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228224 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 1am Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 9061 6109
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