With a whopping six spots on the 2019 edition of the world's best bars, it's fair to say that Singapore is a drinking city. Bartenders from around the world have made their home here, bringing along the traditional techniques and ingredients that you might find in cocktail hubs like London or New York. Still, plenty of locals have added an Asian spin on things, drawing on indigenous ingredients and Singapore's Peranakan influences. Whether you're looking for a dramatic night out at a movie star-worthy spot with more than 1,300 spirits or a low-key beer at a rowdy hotspot, there are plenty of excellent places to imbibe in the Lion City.
A new kid on the block, having just opened in 2018, Atlas is among the most beautiful bars in the world, anchored by a gin tower that houses more than 1,300 spirits—some more than 100 years old. The spacious room was inspired by Art Deco skyscrapers, lending the entire experience a Hollywood-like glamour. Note that the drinks are pricy, and the dress code is strictly enforced, but it's a bar-going experience unlike any other.
Manhattan frequently appears on best bar lists and with good reason. Dedicated to classic drinks (if you couldn't tell from the name), the bar recalls classic 19th-century New York both in decor and ambiance, but with a fun, modern twist. Housed in the Regent hotel, Manhattan also holds the unique distinction of being home to the world's first in-hotel rickhouse, a room used for the aging and storage of whiskey barrels.
Address82, #01-02 Boat Quay, Singapore 049870
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While it's easy to drink yourself silly in Singapore thanks to the countless upscale boîtes, sometimes you just want a beer. Once you reach that point, head to Skinny's Lounge, a converted Chinese KTV bar on Boat Quay. Expats flock here for rowdy theme nights, cold beers, and classic riffs on cocktails. Take note of the "interesting" decor.
Another entry on the list of world's best bars, three-year-old Native sources everything it uses—spirits, scents, ingredients, even glassware—from the region. Expect to see genuinely mind-blowing flavor combinations in the inventive drinks here. Past ingredients include pineapple skin, laksa leaves, candlenut, Jackfruit rum, and even kimchi. Yes, kimchi in a cocktail. Trust us.
With views of Singapore's Marina Bay, the freshly re-designed MO Bar has become a popular destination in the city. Drinks are inventive, drawing on clever ingredients like aloe vera and carbonated coconut cream, and also beautiful—this is one of the top spots to bring your friend who's on the hunt for the perfect 'gram. There's also an eclectic food menu, which features quirky takes on regional cuisine. Try the Singdog, Nonya sausage, achar, sambal, scallion, and dry shrimp—the perfect antidote to a long night of drinking.
Jigger & Pony
Tucked away in the Amara hotel, Jigger & Pony is known for classic with updated touches and clever "menu-zine" that emphasizes the craft and attention paid to each one of their drinks. Try the Tokyo-Hi, made with Nikka Coffey Gin, umeshu, shiso peppermint, gari, and soda. Even the snacks—like a chicken liver custard with smoked tea and truffle butter—are inspired.
28 HongKong Street
Is this the bar that started it all? Singapore's most dedicated drinkers would say, emphatically, yes. This treasured bar is known for its fantastic soundtrack, knowledgable bartenders, and a high-energy crowd. At one time named the Best Bar in Asia, 28 HongKong Street proves that great bartending can be fun and rowdy, not just buttoned-up. You'll find the bar behind an unmarked door on Hong Kong Street, nestled among Chinese shophouses.
For fear of sounding like a broken record, Operation Dagger is another Singapore bar that's appeared on the world's best list. Hidden behind an unmarked door in the Anne Siang district, Operation Dagger looks more like a mad scientist's laboratory than a chic cocktail bar. Hand-labeled apothecary bottles adorn the bar, while a dramatic fixture made of thousands of lightbulbs hangs overhead. The drinking experience takes a similar approach: The menu doesn't list specific types of alcohol in each drink, encouraging guests to keep an open mind and experiment.
The Old Man
This Hemingway-inspired bar might sound familiar to some: it's a recreation of a Hong Kong favorite. A curated menu of nine drinks take their name from the author's beloved texts and all are riffs on classic sippers, with unique twists. The Islands in the Steam, for example, is a gin and tonic featuring sea salt gin and clarified pink grapefruit juice.
Inspired by the romantic, golden age of air travel (and named after the precursor to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport), Idlewild is a chic and sexy cocktail bar tucked away in the InterContinental Singapore, with a menu inspired by 10 popular cities around the world, including two drinks from each. Andy Griffiths, a well-known Australian bartender, runs the show.
Long Bar, the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, put the city-state on the map for many drinkers. Housed in the iconic Raffles Hotel, which is fresh off a multi-million-dollar renovation, Long Bar is as good as ever, with dark wood accents, classic floor tiles (littered with peanut shells, just like the old days), and of course, a model, not-too-saccharine rendition of the beloved Singapore Sling, served in the original glassware.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Employees Only has grown from a low-key West Village bar in New York City to a cocktail powerhouse, with locations in Miami, Los Angeles, and now Asia. The Singapore outpost—almost a direct copy of the Hudson Street original—serves the classic menu of EO favorites, as well as a selection of refreshing tropical drinks, like the Golden Hour, a blend of cachaca, mango, ginger, Frangelico and fresh lime juice.
It's hard to divulge too much about Tippling Club, given its ethereal nature. The bar aims to immerse drinkers in their cocktails, with frequently changing menus and inventive drink "previews"—like one past menu where each drink was preceded by a gummy bear highlighting the flavors. The current menu is a historical look at drinking, featuring tipples from as far back as 1864.
When you walk into D.Bespoke, you might be briefly convinced that you're in Tokyo, not Singapore. After walking in through a retail shop selling glassware and leather goods, you'll enter the 28-seater speakeasy. Bartender Daiki Kanetaka draws on Japan's ritual-like bartending in this space, with a price-free menu (note that there's a $60 per person minimum) and service that includes your drink finished tableside.
Le Bon Funk
This sleek natural wine bar on Singapore's ultra-trendy Club Street is hip and casual, with a curated list that seems approachable to wine novices. The terrazzo bar is the place to sit, as friendly servers pour nips of new wines to curious guests. There's also a menu of inventive, yet gourmet, small plates, like a transcendent shaved foie gras and cedar jelly on a brioche toast.