Cocktail maverick Jay Gray of award-winning Sago House fame opens his own little pocket bar concept, Idle Hands.

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. So the saying goes.

But if anyone knows Jay Gray, that hardly applies. Together with his fellow co-founders the iconoclast back in 20202 built award-winning cocktail bar Sago House from ground up, applying elbow grease and literally putting the place together piece by piece.

In preceding years Gray put in similar backbreaking work for venues such as Low Tide and Ghostwriter at Ann Siang Hill, turning them into much beloved local watering holes.

Idle Hands is Jay Gray's latest bar venture

Gray’s recent departure from running Sago House full-time gave him some time on his hands, and he put that to good use transforming Ghostwriter into his new bar Idle Hands. Which is ironic in more ways than one; his hands continued to be far from idle, not to mention using Ghostwriter – a pop-up incubation space he created for F&B entrepreneurs to test new concepts – to trial his own new idea.

In any case, it is a cosy little 14-seater that is, as Gray puts it, ‘everything that goes on in his mind’. From the eclectic pop art collection and rocking music playlist to the playful cocktails and the little arcade machine in the corner of the bar, Idle Hands is Jay Gray inviting you into his own private little world.

Wizzbang - rum, aperol, watermelon, absinthe

As with Sago House, cocktails at Idle Hands appear simple but belie the amount of prep that goes behind.

The drinks menu is split into three sections – ‘Sours & Highballs’, ‘Strong & Stirred’, and a section on no- and low-alcohol options. The first features drinks that are generally uncomplicated and fruit-driven, such as American-Not, a cheeky twist on the Americano using rum, coffee and fruit soda, while Chocolate Orange turns those childhood flavours into an adult beverage using vermouth, sherry and orange-laced vodka.

From ‘Strong & Stirred’ is Thiccboi, a deliciously herbaceous gin-based concoction with notes of sage and coconut, as well as Oxacca Hanky Panky, a Mezcal take on the classic Hanky Panky. The last section – aimed at teetotaling tipplers – sounded interesting but I didn’t bother to try.

Chocolate Orange - sherry, cacao, vermouth, oloroso, and orange vodka

Idle Hands offers a very small bar grub menu. The Plowmans, for example, is a platter of fine nibbles like prosciutto and cheddar, and there’s the likes of Baked Tuna or Spinach & Ricotta Mac & Cheese for something more substantial. But Gray is first and foremost a bartender, so you’ll probably want to make dinner plans before or after if you need something more refined.

It’s hard not to compare Idle Hands to Sago House. But Gray’s new space is really less of an evolution from the award-winning bar that cemented his name in the global cocktail world, and rather a physical embodiment of a wiser, more mature version of the man himself.

And he’s not keeping idle.

Idle Hands

Address 98 Club St, Singapore 069467 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 12am Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays
Reservations book here

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