Intimate speakeasy Chandu at The Robertson House harkens to a more illicit era in Singapore’s history with its ambience and cocktails.

Local historians may not speak of it much, but Singapore hides a dark past. 19th century Singapore was ridden with vice, a time when drug trafficking and prostitution was rife. In many cases, those nefarious activities were even tacitly endorsed by Singapore’s then-colonial overlords.

Enter Chandu, one of the newest cocktail watering holes to open in Singapore. Located within The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, this speakeasy bar is inspired by those forgotten times in Singapore’s history. Its name is even a giveaway if you know your Malay. Chandu means opium, although it’s also moon in Hindi.

Chandu - Mata Hari

You’ll instantly feel it when you step in. Decor-wise, Chandu exudes a combination of opium den and Chinese clan association vibes (except for the missing mahjong tables). It looks and feels, for all intents and purposes, like the kind of place that attract members of the criminal underground, where they can discuss the “important matters of the day”.

Indeed, Chandu is positioned as a secretive den where prominent municipal councillor Dr Murray Robertson from Singapore’s colonial days – after whom Robertson Quay is named and whom The Robertson House is inspired by – entertains those colourful characters.

Its drinks are similarly themed. Signature cocktails include Chasing The Dragon, a gin-based sour with flavors of tea and white grape, and comes vividly hued by purple dragonfruit. The name, of course, refers to the slang for drawing on an opium pipe (or any kind of drug use). Or Death and Taxes, which mixes brandy and whisky in a liberal twist of the Manhattan that’s combined with saffron, cacao, and fig.

Chasing the Dragon

Otherwise there’s Mata Hari, named for the tragic exotic Dutch dancer and courtesan in the early 20th century accused for being a spy and executed. She is remembered here as a fruity genever-based sour with a spicy hit from pink peppercorn. Otherwise there’s Be On Time, a herbaceous highball with notes of melon, green tea, and thyme.

What I particularly like about Chandu is how it cleverly weaves its origin story back to The Robertson House’s own. But more importantly for some of us, it really is a cosy and intimate space that takes us back in time and is – ahem – perfect for the kind of clandestine meet-ups the bar was inspired by.


Address 1 Unity St, The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Singapore 237983 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5pm to 12am Sundays to Wednesdays; 5pm to 1am Thursdays to Saturdays
Tel (65) 8380 1694
Facebook chandubarsg
Instagram @chandubarsg


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