1918 Heritage Bar at The Alkaff Mansion explores the legacy of Singapore’s prominent Alkaff family through spice-heavy bar bites and whimsical cocktails.
1918 was a watershed year in world history, a time of profound political and social changes. The Armistice of Compiègne was signed, bringing an end the World War I. The deadly Spanish flu struck that year, infecting countless numbers of people worldwide and killing millions. Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bosheviks during the Russian Revolution, wiping out Russia’s monarchy. The Hapsburg monarchy also dissolved, leading to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Qing Dynasty also ended that year.
Closer to home? A mansion was being built by Syed Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff in Telok Blangah Hill right here in Singapore. While this is definitely not as earth-shattering like those world events, but the Alkaffs, which became extremely prominent thanks to their illustrious spice trade in the region, would have tremendous influence in shaping Singapore – and beyond – in the years to come.
105 years down the road, 1918 Heritage Bar, built right there within the walls of that colonial-style bungalow – complete with European-inspired fountains, sprawling lawns, and a gazebo – would pay homage to the Arab family.
The new bar takes over what used to be TXA Gastrobar. The space itself has been refurbished, dripping in contemporary tropical vibes perfect for an evening tête-à-tête with friends (think Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, but darker and cosier).
The Alkaffs ran a thriving business between India and Indonesia, trading in spices, coffee and sugar. The food and drink menu at 1918 Heritage Bar reflects that illustrious trade.
Signature cocktails range from the blue-hued Garden Glitz, a gin-based highball with fruity notes of apple, calamansi, and sour plum, to Mizumi, a vodka-based Midori Sour made creamier and more umami with a touch of miso.
Some cocktails come with theatre. Herb-laden Alkemy – combining Fernet and Coca – appears as drip coffee, while spice rum-based Smoked Cocktail gets the smoking gun treatment. Or Back In Thyme, whose gin component comes in the form of jelly.
Food options are irreverent and fun. Must orders include the Laksa Squid Ink Prawn Roll, a ngo hiang stuffed with laksa-infused squid ink rice and minced prawns, and Palak Paneer Pizza, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Curry Beef Pie is effectively beef rendang in a pie, while Chilli Crab Kueh Pie Tee is an enjoyable little bite.
There are regular options too; a laden Wagyu Burger, for example, or ubiquitous snacking fare like Calamari or Curly Fries for the unadventurous. That said, the Truffle Carbonara, with its bacon, sous vide egg and unctuously creamy truffled parmesan sauce, is pretty good.
1918 Heritage Bar, located in the serene greenery of Singapore’s Southern Ridges, makes for a nice change from the usual frenetic watering holes in the city. I just wish it leaned even more into the Alkaff family’s storied history.
1918 Heritage Bar
Address 10 Telok Blangah Green, The Alkaff Mansion, Singapore 109178 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5pm to 11pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday; 5pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Mondays
Tel (65) 8123 8484
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