The growing love of speakeasy-style bars has seen Operation Dagger quickly rise to become one of Singapore’s most popular – and photographed – ones, so look elsewhere to escape the Instagram-obsessed hordes. Here are nine watering holes to check out.
This bar-meets-social-space, which occupies the corner of a shophouse block on Guillemard Road, isn’t your old school canteen.
It carries a wide range of wines, whisky and beers, including the venue’s exclusive Tuckshop Edition – a lager-style beer with calamansi juice and gula melaka (palm sugar).
403 Guillemard Road
The Horse's Mouth
Beyond an inconspicuous door behind the cashier at Uma Uma Ramen lies a stairway that leads to this underground bar that serves some of the best cocktails in town – such as the absinthe-tinged, herb-based Aphrodisiac.
The masculine interior (above) is wood-accented, dimly lit and intimate – making the bar almost like a meeting spot for secret lovers.
Basement 1, Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road
Tucked away inside Izy Dining & Bar, a 40-seater Japanese-style izakaya serving Japanese-American fare, Cache (French for ‘hidden’) isn’t your typical no-frills Japanese drinking nook.
For one, it has a quirky decor that includes cult-favourite items such as Bearbrick and Daft Punk figures.
For another, it offers a wide selection of drinks – not only of Japanese cocktails and sake, but also of artisanal wines and champagnes. Sakura (above) – a shiso (beefsteak plant) and ume (plum) liqueur cocktail that is one of the bar’s signature drinks – is a good way to start the evening.
27 Club Street
Shin Gi Tai
You may be walking into craft beer bar Good Luck Beerhouse, but where you’re really heading to is Shin Gi Tai, a temple of Japanese precision located above it.
The bar’s classic Negroni continues to be perfected by chief bartender Anthony Zhong, while Japanese comfort food such as duck curry udon and oden (a winter stew with fish cakes as the main ingredient) line your stomach for a night of stiff drinks.
Level 2, 9 Haji Lane
The Secret Mermaid
Talk about hiding in plain sight. By day, it is a joint serving sushi rolls and sashimi salads (Shinkansen); by night, it is The Secret Mermaid, a cocktail bar with a focus on American craft spirits and liqueur.
Expect cocktails featuring tropical fruit such as dragon fruit, and are inspired by movies – such as Beauty and the Beast, which has gin, citrus bitters, fresh orange juice and a sweet little cherry on top.
#B1-08 Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay
Sharing space with the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association in an 80-year-old shophouse is Druggists, a craft beer bar with an ever-growing following.
Admire the Instagram-worthy old-fashioned tiles as you tease your palate with sour ales, barrel-aged stouts and wheat ales brewed with flowers.
119 Tyrwhitt Road
This Indian restaurant houses a bar that’s the go-to for those who want to try experimental India-inspired tipples. Watch as the bartender whips up cocktails incorporating ingredients from his childhood.
One such drink is the Yo Yo Mani (above), a rum-based concoction with five-spice Kerala rice syrup, coconut water and cream.
There is also a great selection of inventive small plates that go well with the alcoholic beverages, such as artisanal paneer (a type of milk curd cheese) with capsicum skewers, and truffle naan.
67 Bussorah Street
Nutmeg & Clove
Cross the threshold of what looks like an old Chinese medicine hall but is in fact a cocktail bar, and it’s like stepping into the past; the interior exudes an old-world charm, with apothecary drawers and a wall of burlap sacks paying homage to Singapore’s early immigrant labourers.
Inspired by nasi lemak (a local dish comprising rice cooked in coconut milk and several sides), the signature drink here is the Old Fashioned, made with pandan-infused bourbon, toasted coconut syrup and chilli bitters.
10A Ann Siang Hill
Angie's Oyster Bar
Angie’s is known for its fresh oysters, but few are aware of its craft taproom – Asia’s first Lervig (a Norwegian beer) tasting room with eight seasonal beers on tap.
Enjoy the gorgeous view of Marina Bay and remember: oysters don’t always have to go with champagne.
#45-01, Singapore Land Tower, 50 Raffles Place
Text: Yasmeen Hameed-Chan/SilverKris