Modern Asian-inspired bites, elevated tapas, and heritage eats – here are some cocktail venues with food programmes that can be the envy of restaurants.
It wasn’t too long ago that you didn’t think to find proper, quality food at a cocktail bar. Think ubiquitous truffle fries, boring buffalo wings, and messy nachos; these were but a few of the unimaginative eats you’d find at your favourite watering holes. But even has our local cocktail scene has evolved its drinks, increasingly your fancy progressive cocktail bar has also upped its bar food programme to match their creative tipples.
Here are some of the cocktail bars we’ve eaten at recently that we wouldn’t mind going back just for the food.
Anthology, Compendium Spirits’ gastrobar and tasting room in Singapore’s central business district, may be where the homegrown distillery pours some of its funky Asian-inspired spirits and fun fermented wines, but the bar grub is pretty flash too. Like its Asian-inspired cocktails, the food at Anthology draws on familiar Southeast Asian ingredients and flavours for dishes that are fun yet familiar.
Must orders: Braised duck rillette, beef char siu, coconut fried chicken, and churros with pandan salted caramel.
Anthology | 10 Circular Rd, Singapore 049366 (Google Maps link) | 4pm to 12am Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 8451 5389
Not exactly a speakeasy, but Barood, tucked away in an upper storey of a Tras Street shophouse above award-winning modern Indian restaurant Revolver, is easy to miss. Which would be a shame, because the self-styled contemporary “Asian izakaya” and cocktail bar offers some of the most avant-garde and tastiest Mexican-Indian-Japanese fusion eats you can find in town.
Must orders: Paneer sando, Malabar pork taco, goat biryani arancini, and butter chicken paratini.
Brasserie Astoria Singapore
Three Michelin-starred Zén’s more casual sibling Brasserie Astoria Singapore at Victoria Concert Hall is one of the newest, flashiest bistros to see and be seen at. Anyone who is anyone should avail themselves of the fabulously strong Martinis – stirred, not shaken – from its impressive centrepiece bar, but its sophisticated updated takes on nostalgic dishes of the 70s are as delicious as they are indulgent.
Must orders: Toast Astoria, whisky flambéed beef, and waffle ice cream.
We love mid-century Japan-inspired cocktail bar Live Twice for many things, especially their intensely spirit-forward Vesper and its cosy yet elegant vibes. But we’d go back also for their bar bites, particularly their drool-worthy Japanese sandos to help soak up all the booze we’re going to be putting in our system.
Must orders: Mushroom tempura & kombu salt, smoked daikon dip & trout roe, wagyu katsu sando, and tamago katsu sando.
Live Twice | 18-20 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089834 (Google Maps link) | 6pm to 1am on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 6pm to 2am Fridays and Saturdays; 6pm to 12am Sundays and Mondays; closed on Tuesdays | livetwice.sg | 9011 8304 | reservations
Tiki-inspired alfresco bar Low Tide on Ann Siang Hill is where we head for tropical drinks done right. Yet it was only recently that we discovered they offered an insane food menu that beautifully melded local and Southeast Asian-inspired flavours with European techniques and sensibility.
Must orders: Nasi ulam, stingray, and portoro short rib.
LUMO Bar & Restaurant
If its name isn’t already a dead giveaway, LUMO is every bit a restaurant as it is a cocktail bar. But not bar restaurants are alike, and we’re glad to say that LUMO’s playfully inventive twists on European classics are always well executed and by far better than most of its contemporaries. They certainly go with LUMO’s creative cocktails as well.
Must orders: Smoked duck croquette, chicken hearts, Cantabrian octopus, cod fish liver ‘taramasalata’, and Canadian primrose pork ribeye.
LUMO Bar & Restaurant | 50 South Bridge Rd, #01-00, Singapore 058682 (Google Maps link) | 12.30pm to 3pm and 5pm to 12am on Tuesdays to Fridays; 6pm to 1am on Saturdays; 6pm to 10.30pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays | www.lumo.sg | 8921 3818
Nutmeg & Clove
In our opinion it’s worth visiting award-winning Singapore-themed Nutmeg & Clove for the cocktails alone, each of which gives specific insight into an aspect of Singapore culture. But its Asian pub grub is also delightful, a mishmash of bites inspired by different regional cuisines and local eats.
Must orders: Fried ‘carrot’ cake, Chong Qing chicken wings, dry mee siam, and Nutmeg & Clove ice cream sandwich.
No Sleep Club
Not many cocktail bars can boast having a highly acclaimed travelling chef in Federico Tiseyra take to their kitchen, but his ongoing “Carta Blanca” chef residency means that No Sleep Club has some seriously classy Michelin-star level eats to go with its whimsical cocktails.
Must orders: Uh, everything?
No Sleep Club | 20 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore 089127 (Google Maps link) | 4pm to 12am on Tuesdays to Saturdays; 12pm to 6pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays | www.nosleepclub.sg | 8838 0188 | reservations
Frat boy hideout Puffy Bois may look and feel like an elevated dive bar, but its well-composed yet unpretentious range of cocktails have drawn cocktail lovers far and wide. On the food menu? Pizzas. It’s a tiny selection, but however you slice it those are all great pies.
Must orders: Spiced arti, black clams, and parma-roni.
One does not turn up to a cocktail lounge to find a comforting bowl of hot soup waiting for you, but Spectre surprises you that way. The mental wellness-centric apothecary bar offers an introspective range of cocktails designed to put you in a good mood, and that focus extends to their pleasing eats as well.
Must orders: Watermelon sashimi, herbal chicken soup, and cilbur.
Spectre | 120 Tanjong Pagar Road, #02-01, Singapore 088532 (Google Maps link) | 5pm to 11.30pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays | 9673 0595
Stay Gold Flamingo
Next generation dual hybrid concept Stay Gold Flamingo’s cocktail persona, Stay Gold, is better known for its edgy drinks. But that may change with its recent appointment of new head chef Joanne Sakai, who brings her own special spin to Stay Gold’s food menu with bold Asian flavours that reflect her Filipino heritage.
Must orders: SGF fried wings, loaded tater tots, mala quail eggs, and Iberico pork collar.
We love the conviviality of cocktail pub Sugarhall and its legendary spread of rum-laced cocktails that run the gamut from classic to quirky. We usually get too sloshed here to think about food, but on a recent drunken night out we discovered its gastronomic cache of supper-inspired gastropub fare… and fell in love.
Must orders: Vegetable momos, pepper fry chicken ribs, and Indomie.
Sugarhall | 19 Cecil St, Level 2, Singapore 049704 (Google Maps link) | 5.30pm to 12am on Mondays to Thursdays; 5.30pm to 2am Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Sundays | www.sugarhall.sg | 9815 0246 | reservations
It’s far too easy to mistake hybrid retail and bistro dining concept TA Community for yet another shopfront along Serangoon Road, but deep within hides a cocktail bar smashing out great cocktails. Complementing those drinks? A Swedish-inspired food menu here with meatballs that will give IKEA’s a run for its money.
Must orders: Swedish meatballs, smörgåstårta, beef cheek, and lemon posset.
Tess Bar & Kitchen
Another great bistro with excellent cocktails – or is it a great cocktail bar with an excellent kitchen? – is Tess Bar & Kitchen. This stalwart along Seah Street has been churning out some of the best cocktail-friendly fare for years, and indeed its contemporary European dishes can put those from some finer restaurants to shame.
Must orders: Yellowfin tuna tartare, deep fried calamari, pork jowl linguine, and USDA prime striploin.
As much a temple dedicated to nose-to-tail eating as it is a cocktail bar, Underdog Inn puts out the kind of elevated bar fare you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in food-loving Singapore. Well, as long as you’re not squeamish about eating more unusual and uncommon parts of animals.
Must orders: Pig head scrumpet, house pickles, lamb tartare, and duck liver parfait.
Multi-storied progressive venue White Shades may offer four distinctively different cocktail experiences, but ensconced within its second floor is a modern cocktail bar dedicated to true cocktail hounds. Even better, there’s a full fusion bar food menu here that draws culinary influences around the world designed to sate the most demanding gastronomes.
Must orders: Beef tartare, ‘scallops’, tagliatelle, and double cheese burger.
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