Barhopping made easy

Part of our Nightlife Guide 2018.

 

 

 

Besides the obvious heritage and cultural significance of Chinatown, you can also find some of the best bars hidden away in some of the nooks and crannies of this district. Some of them are in plain sight; while others, are more unassuming. While we don’t have that many speakeasy bars with hidden entrances as other countries, we make up in quality of cocktails. Use this guide for a boozy night out and about in Chinatown with your buddies.
 

AMOY STREET & TELOK AYER

 

Bitters & Love


A candidate for the title of Singapore’s friendliest bar, Bitters & Love is also one of the best places in town for cocktails tailored to your tastes. Bar snacks like truffle chips and wagyu beef cubes are also worthy of a shout-out. 118 Telok Ayer St., 6438-1836.
 

Burger Joint


This “underground” diner-style restaurant retains the irreverent vibe of its New York flagship, with smooth wooden walls covered in graffiti. They have a straightforward selection of mouthwatering burgers and a full bar with 18 craft beers on tap. #01-03 115 Amoy St., 6221-8648.
 

Ding Dong


Ding Dong’s take on traditional Asian cuisine and cocktails is as refreshing as ever. In a space with Asian pop-art vibes, they serve signature concoctions like the gin-based Hawker (served with a side of haw flakes), the jasmine and pear bellini and White Lies—a cocktail inspired by hor fun. #01-02 115 Amoy St., 6557-0189.
 

Employees Only Singapore


It’s been just a year and a bit since Employees Only crossed over from New York, but they’ve gained a loyal following and made it to #17 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. Cocktail highlights include the EO Gimlet (Perry’s Tot Navy Strength gin and house lime cordial) and Ready Aim Fire (mezcal, lime juice, honey-pineapple syrup and Hellfire bitters). 112 Amoy St., 6221-7357.
 

Freehouse


Located on the second floor of a shophouse on Boon Tat Street, this craft beer and cider gastrobar is a laidback space with white-washed walls, simple, haphazardly-arranged wooden furniture and fairy lights. You’ll find 18 taps of rotating exotic microbrews (and a list of bottled beers and ciders) to pair with Asian-inspired pub grub. 21A Boon Tat St.
 

Kabuke


Kabuki-inspired interiors, contemporary Japanese fare and a list of fine sake curated by a sake sommelier—that’s what you can expect at Kabuke. If you’ve always been a fan of nihonshu and want to take your appreciation of it to the next level, this is the place to do it. 2/F 200A Telok Ayer St., 8822-5525.
 

Native


Few bars have made waves in their first year like Vijay Mudaliar’s Native. You know all about their Antz cocktail, and you’ve probably heard that they debuted at #47 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list (and were #20 in Asia), but it’s their good service and dedication to highlighting Asian spirits that take them to the level of an unmissable attraction. 52A Amoy St., 9876-8910.
 

Spiffy Dapper


It might not be the infamous dive it once was at its Boat Quay location, but there are few better places to go to for G&Ts and bespoke cocktails. If they like you, you might even get to leave your mark, literally, by hammering a dent into their copper-topped bar. 2/F 73A Amoy St., 8233-9810. 
 

Sum Yi Tai


This 1980s Hong Kong-inspired shophouse space makes full use of balmy night air. While the first floor is full of Chinese tapas, the rooftop bar is perfect for breezy after-work drinks before descending for a snack. 25 Boon Tat St., 6221-3665.


ANN SIANG HILL & CLUB STREET

 

Nutmeg & Clove


Asia’s 30th best bar has always been known for locally-inspired cocktails that chart Singapore’s unique history. Their current menu taps into the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings with drinks featuring ingredients as varied as durian, tongkat ali, galangal and hibiscus. 10A Ann Siang Rd., 9389-9301.
 

Operation Dagger


Salted egg cocktail The Egg and their omakase cocktail experience made Operation Dagger famous (and took them to #24 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list) and the mad-scientist-like hangout continues to be one of the most inventive establishments in town. #B1-01 7 Ann Siang Hill, 6438-4057. 
 

Oxwell & Co


Distinctly British, this four-in-one concept combines a ground floor bar pouring draft cocktails, a dining room serving up contemporary British fare, a private dining room and a rooftop bar mixing gin cocktails made with herbs grown in-house. What more could you ask for? 5 Ann Siang Hill, 6438-3984.
 

Tiger’s Milk


Located on The Club’s breezy rooftop, this Peruvian restaurant and cocktail bar has an extensive selection of pisco and pisco infusions for their range of cocktails, not to mention a dedicated ceviche bar. R/F The Club, 28 Ann Siang Rd., 6808-2188.


BUKIT PASOH & KEONG SAIK

 

D.Bespoke


Ranked #29 in Asia, D. Bespoke is led by Ginza celeb bartender Daiki Kanetaka, who struts about in Savile Row suits. This is an ultra-luxe cocktail bar which also focuses on sherry, Armagnac and Calvados. 2 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 8141-5741.
 

Flagship


The third (and final) floor of the three-in-one shophouse by the guys behind Jigger & Pony and Sugarhall is home to this Old Fashioned specialty bar stocking around 100 whiskies. This cozy and grungy space also has a range of highballs and punchbowls, as well as comforting snacks like buttermilk fried chicken. 3/F 18/20 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 9011-8304.
 

Gibson


Occupying 14th place on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, Gibson is known for solid renditions of classic cocktails. The three-gin Gibson is a must-try before you explore their 60-cocktail menu divided into Finding Comfort (easy classics), Forging Friendship (complex flavor combos), Sharing Happiness (stuff to drink all night) and Reserve (made with top-shelf stuff). 20 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 9114-8385.
 

Lime House


Just about the most authentic taste of the Caribbean in Singapore, Lime House serves up refreshing rum cocktails and island eats—jerk chicken, curry goat and seafood cakes are just the beginning. If you’re down for some sophisticated sipping rums, head upstairs to Bago where a massive selection awaits. 2 Jiak Chuan Rd., 6222-3130.
 

Neon Pigeon


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A modern izakaya serving edgy Japanese small plates, the industrial chic Neon Pigeon has a list of craft sake (including a house junmai daiginjo), wine and whisky with intriguing cocktails like the Gei-sha (shitake sake and umeshu, Luxardo apricot, passion fruit, sherry and bitters). 1A Keong Saik Rd., 6222-3623.
 

Potato Head Singapore 


The Singapore outpost of Bali’s (and Jakarta’s) legendary Potato Head has three concepts in one location—burger spot Three Buns, classy cocktail lounge Studio 1939 and Rooftop, a tiki bar with unrivalled views of Chinatown. They’ve also announced a new dining concept, so stay tuned. 36 Keong Saik Rd., 6327-1939.
 

Sluviche


Specializing in Peruvian ceviche and adult (read: spiked) slushies, Sluviche brings to Singapore the vibrant drive-thru daiquiri culture of New Orleans. The adult slushies are essentially boozy frozen treats—options include pisco punch and pisco sour—perfect for any time of the day. 17A Keong Saik Rd., 6224-0212. 


CHINATOWN CENTRAL, DUXTON HILL, TANJONG PAGAR & OTHERS

 

Cin Cin


The lobby bar of Oasia Hotel Downtown Cin Cin stocks about 100 gins. While they’ve created a rep for their make-your-own-martini options, you can also partake in their Gin Buffet every Saturday—that’s three hours of unlimited G&Ts. #01-02 Oasia Hotel Downtown, 100 Peck Seah St., 6385-2604.
 

Graffiti Sky Bar 


Head up to the 29th floor of the Carlton City Hotel and you’ll find Graffiti Sky Bar, a place to start a night, end a night or spend all night with views of the city skyline. Choose from their selection of cocktails or take on a beer tower—it’s all up to you. Be sure to make the most of their extended happy hours. 29/F Carlton City Hotel, 1 Gopeng St., 6632-8922.
 

Junior


It’s by the same team behind 28 HongKong Street, Proof & Company and the now defunct Crackerjack, so you know Junior will have that creative flair we have all come to expect in their cocktails. The venue can only seat 10 people at any one time, so come early or book in advance. Access the bar via the back alley entrance. 43 Tanjong Pagar Rd., 8121-1462.
 

Praelum Wine Bistro


Praelum is a place for oenophiles run by oenophiles. While wine might have taken a back seat to other varieties of alcohol in recent years, this is one place where grapes still rule. Their cellar holds more than 1,000 bottles and their list of close to 20 wines by the glass changes regularly. 4 Duxton Hill, 6238-5287.
 

Tippling Club


Can you remember Singapore’s cocktail and fine dining scene before Tippling Club? Chef Ryan Clift’s famed restaurant and bar has been wowing patrons for close to ten years, and their consistent ingenuity—now with Joe Schofield behind the bar—saw them rewarded with a return to the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2017 (at #31). 38 Tanjong Pagar Rd., 6475-2217.
 

The Trading Floor 


From coffee and refreshments through to evening cocktails, The Trading Floor welcomes you all day, every day (11am-11pm). Located in the lobby of the Carlton City Hotel, their extended happy hours and discounts on draft beer and premium whisky offer great value for money. G/F Carlton City Hotel, 1 Gopeng St., 6632-8922. 
 

Smith Street Taps


This pioneering craft beer hawker stall is a go-to for exotic kegs. They have 10 taps that change often, but you can expect stuff from respectable breweries like Mikkeller and Stone along with some local heroes. Follow their Facebook page to see what special kegs and tap takeovers they have coming up. #02-062 Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith St.