Affordable Peranakan-inspired, tiki cocktail joint on Boat Quay
For a bar to stand out in a place like Boat Quay it has to have a lot going for it. Especially a cocktail bar, given that Singapore has plenty of great ones. But luckily for us, Bee Bee’s, which is located in a quiet, second-floor space of an unmarked riverfront shophouse, hits all the right spots.
The edgy street vibe emanating from the cozy venue’s decor is tempered by the warmth and friendliness radiating from the bar team, fronted by owner-bartender Bryan Kishore, resulting in a cool yet inviting atmosphere for would-be customers here. The first thing you would notice upon entering the place, besides the busy bar counter cluttered with bottles and spices, are the graffiti art with scrawls such as “KEEP CALM &
COCKTAIL ANAL SEX”, referencing the old bartender adage that drinking Campari (a popular alcoholic liqueur used in mixology) is like doing it in the butt.
That cheekiness extends to the drinks selection here. For a spirit-forward concoction that packs a punch, go for the Respite, a powerful short drink of bourbon, creme de cassis, rosso and chocolate bitters served in a small, fist-shaped mug (get it?). Then go for the well-balanced Flora Nangka, served in a Peranakan-style tea cup, that highlights the jackfruit—not often used in cocktails due to its robust flavor—and the use of ginger flower salt. There’s also the Sorry Not Sorry (red dragonfruit, soursop, cachaça, lime, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, kaffir lime leaf), made in a show of solidarity to the LGBTQ community and inspired by the fruit juice drinks served at hawker centres.
But here’s the kicker: all cocktails on the menu (they also do bespoke ones) cost only $15 nett, except for the Dark as Selva (a gingery twist on the classic Dark and Stormy), which costs only $10! It really doesn’t get better than that.
But actually, it does. The bar grub here may only comprise three items at the moment—tomato and burrata bruschetta ($6), tuna tartare bruschetta ($7) and pork belly rice bowl ($8)—but that last item, made using Japanese grains, a thick piece of braised pork belly, spicy homemade achar and topped with a runny egg, is supremely satisfying and is made to stave off any pre- or post-drink hunger pangs with finesse.
One last thing. If you do make your way here, be sure to ask Kishore how the place got its name for an awww moment.