Singapore cocktail bars are arguably the city-state’s greatest international talking point at the moment, thanks in part to its recent hosting of the annual World’s 50 Best Bars awards, in October 2023. The event, which had been held exclusively in London until 2022 (when Barcelona was chosen as the first alternative host city), marks a coming together of the brightest, most creative minds in cocktails, showcasing excellence across the bar world, from the most prestigious hotel outlets to highly innovative speakeasies and dive bars.
The awards began in earnest some 15 years ago, and Singapore ranks at number four (just behind Paris, New York and London) for the most number of entries on the hallowed list – with 18 different bars gracing the top 50 in that time.
‘Singapore has a uniquely vibrant bar scene and proved a natural choice as the host location,’ says William Drew, director of content for the World’s 50 Best group. ‘Asia has been a stronghold of hospitality excellence, and we felt it was the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on the region's incredible contributions.’
Discover the best Singapore cocktail bars
Jigger & Pony
Jigger & Pony, placing at no.14 in the World’s 50 Best Bars list, has consistently ranked for the past five years. It’s one of the original game changers in the Singapore bar scene, having opened in 2012, and provides cocktail aficionados with a flawless reimagining of the classics, alongside an innovative ‘Identity’ menu, which looks back introspectively over the bar’s most celebrated creations. The attention to detail, service and focus on sustainability and zero waste – especially in Ugly Tomatoes, a drink combining B-grade beef tomatoes deemed too ugly for sale, Himalayan gin and homemade kummel, a caraway-based liqueur – highlights why the bar is likely to be a leading light for many years to come.
Arguably one of the most stunning-looking bars in the world, Atlas (no.48) is a vast art deco palace to all things gin. The high ceilings and gilded features instantly conjure up images of the beautiful ballrooms of Gatsby-era America. Behind the immaculate bar is a gin tower, rising up like a monolithic tribute to Mother’s Ruin, where you’ll find over 1,000 different gins from all around the world.
By way of a visual contrast, head down to the traditional three-storey Shophouse buildings on Amoy Street and you’ll find Native, which has truly mastered the concept of doing everything as locally as possible – producing some stunning results. With a menu comprising just seven drinks, each one delivers a compelling story, using a curated selection of spirits from the Asia region (think Indian whisky, coconut distillates and Ceylon arrak). The serves are as tasty as they are ingenious: ask for a Peranakan and you’ll receive a heady blend of jackfruit rum, laksa leaves, goat milk, candlenut and gula melaka – a palm sugar made from coconut flower buds.
28 Hong Kong Street
The penchant for speakeasy-themed bars is a clearly defined trend in Singapore and one which was definitely bucked by 28 Hong Kong Street when it first opened, back in 2011. Taking a seemingly nondescript city location (I guarantee you won’t spot it as you drive by in a taxi) and turning on the liquid wow factor behind its closed doors has paid dividends and the bar has gained an avid international reputation for its mix of innovative flair and beautifully crafted old-time classics. Add in its highly moreish bar snacks and you have a recipe for a true destination bar.
One of the undoubted rising stars among Singapore cocktail bars has to be Analogue Initiative, housed in the traditional, imposing gothic surroundings of Chijmes, a former place of worship, now an upmarket complex of independent hospitality outlets. Analogue is immediately striking thanks to its incredible circular bar, which takes over the entire centre of the venue. Its wave-like appearance also carries an important message about sustainability: it’s completely 3D-printed using 1,600 tonnes of waste plastic, all taken from the ocean. The sustainability measures are also deeply entrenched in the drinks menu, especially its cheekily titled Faux Espresso, which uses hickory and dandelion root as alternatives to coffee – a crop which is far more intensively farmed than most of us care to realise.
Finally, for an unrivalled overview of Singapore, you’ll be hard pressed to beat Mr Stork, the open-air rooftop bar at the Andaz hotel on Fraser Street, which brings a sense of how far Singapore has come as a world-class foodie destination, with its breathtaking 360-degree views of the vibrant city below and its dreamy, refreshing highballs and shrub-style cocktails, including the Simha Pura, which mixes Singapore micro distillery Tanglin’s Black Powder gin, fresh raspberry, vanilla, strawberry shrub, lemon juice and aromatic bitters.
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Neil Ridley is a London-based, award-winning drinks writer and presenter. He is the co-author of eight books on spirits and cocktails including Distilled, which is now published in 14 different language editions. For the past eight years he has also served as a drinks expert on TV show Sunday Brunch on Channel 4
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