Hotel bars in Singapore that are actually cool
The old new
Hotel bars are no longer banal lobby lounges where tourists have a nightcap or a housepour before they take the next flight out. These bars are challenging old stereotypes and proving that you do not need to be standalone to stand out. Grab a fabulous craft cocktail or three at these bars in Singapore that is all about the cool factor — whether they are located comfortably in the lobby or perched atop buildings with killer views.
If there is a bar in Singapore that encapsulates our sunny island, its name will be Bar Intermezzo. Drawing inspiration from the elements that make us who we are, the bar has been given a new identity with a drinks menu that features 12 artisanal creations with hints of our tropical landscape and an interior that mirrors the lush tropics in Singapore. Spot the island bar that is embellished with hues of gold and jade-green accents. If you have a preference for gin, order the Pepper — a base of Californian gin St. George Botanivore that is layered with Green Chartreuse, pink peppercorn syrup, fresh capsicum, cucumber and lemon. With Singapore's eclectic culinary scene, bar grub is a playful take on the different cuisines — the frontrunner being grilled stingray fins with black pepper sauce.
442 Orchard Road, Tel: 6739 8888
Opening hours: (Mon-Sun) 10am-1am
Publico by day, Marcello by night. As the sun sets, the breakfast place transforms into an Italian craft bar that is impressively stocked with the largest variety of Amaro, an Italian digestif in Southeast Asia. Holding bragging rights as Singapore's first Italian cocktail bar, Marcello brings you the best of the country's craft spirits and special ingredients that are sourced from Italy. Despite being geotagged to the refurbished InterContinental Singapore, the bar is not exactly located in the hotel. Walk past the hotel lobby and go round the back, where you'll find rattan sofas and leather banquettes in both outdoor and indoor seating. Not to be missed is the smoked black olive negroni — the bar's take on the classic cocktail is weaved together with gin, Campari, Italian vermouth; with the addition of olives for complexity. For bar bites, try the classic Italian snack, truffle aracini (deep-fried risotto balls) to complete the Italian experience.
1 Nanson Road, Tel: 6826 5000
Opening hours: (Tue-Sun) 5pm-12am
The iconic Long Bar at Raffles Hotel has reopened (ahead of the rest of the hotel) at its same location at Level 2 of Raffles Arcade. This newly-restored bar sees a refreshed décor inspired by Malayan plantation life in the 1920s, with contemporary plantation-inspired motifs and cane and rattan furniture complementing the fully refurbished bar counter and spiral staircase.
The current menu comprises craft cocktails, including, of course, the renowned Singapore Sling created in 1915 by Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. If you don't remember, here's a refresher: this bright red-pink tropical gin-based cocktail is a concoction of pineapple juice, lime juice, curaçao and Benedictine. Interestingly, the bar has also rolled out variations of the Sling including the Raffles 1915 Gin Sling which uses exclusive Sipsmith's Raffles 1915 gin and the Sakura Sling composed of Dassai 50 sake, Calvados and St Germaine elderflower liqueur. The bar has also rolled out classic cocktails that take inspiration from local ingredients and influences, drawing on historical recipes from the Straits Settlements. Think: Gin Pahit, made with gin, tonic and bitters favoured in colonial-era Malaya. If you dig deep into history, it's a drink that has appeared in the writings of novelist Somerset Maugham who resided at Raffles thrice in his lifetime.
In line with tradition, guests continue the practice of enjoying peanuts straight from the gunny sack, and tossing the shells on the floor to enjoy the full Singapore Sling experience. This institution has drawn travellers from near and far, so consider bringing your out-of-town friends here for a good time.
Level 2 of Raffles Arcade, Tel: 6412 1230
Opening hours: 11am-8pm
It's about time. The rather dated Equinox complex finally went through a makeover. This restaurant-bar at the 70th floor of Swissôtel The Stamford has been completely transformed into a much sexier space, with an experiential cocktail journey awaiting at Skai bar. Grab a pre-dinner craft cocktail while taking in the dazzling views of the city skyline.
The "nature inspired" cocktail menu here is divided into four sections, according to different altitudinal elevations — sea, rainforest, high desert, and alpine — with drinks from each section playing on ingredients typically found at each altitude. The Samphire's umami flavours and zesty finish evoke the sea with London Dry Gin, Noilly Pratt, oyster leaf and citrus oils. Meanwhile, Camu Camu is a nod to lush Amazonian rainforests, featuring a blend of pisco, soursop syrup, lime and camu camu powder. A drink that would fit right into the desert as a thirst quencher is the Desert Rose, which combines Mezcal with prickly pear cordial, wild liquorice, lime and mesquite. Hike right up to the alpine peaks with winter-esque cocktails like the Summit, which fuses Icelandic glacier vodka and absinthe verte, and is theatrically presented with volcanic rock and ash smoke. Questions about your concoction? Just ask super cool beverage manager Rusty Cerven. Gourmet bar snacks curated by hunky executive chef Paul Hallett of Skai Restaurant make for a complete bar experience. Best time to go? Sunset.
70th floor of Swissôtel The Stamford, Tel: 6837 3322
Jigger & Pony
Fans of Jigger & Pony, your favourite bar has found a brand new and bigger home at Amara Singapore's lobby. At this Tanjong Pagar location, the team of creative bartenders continues to serve unique renditions of classic cocktails. Broken down into 11 different categories, the menu takes guests through an in-depth look (complete with commentaries in the menu) into drinks like the old fashioned, martinis, Asian-inspired cocktails as well as a bevy of retro classics elevated with contemporary touches.
It's unthinkable to spend an evening at Jigger & Pony without an old fashioned. Apart from the bar's signature rendition of the classic drink, the Bumbo old fashioned, a rum-based version that pays homage to sister bar Sugarhall, is also one to try. Likewise, guests can look forward to exploring the different possibilities of a martini, with everything from a classic gin martini to the citrusy silk martini which sees the addition of clarified milk punch, as well as the floral harvest martini, which uses local tarragon, cologne mint and butterfly sorrel. Take a trip down memory lane with the playful retro classics section, with drinks like the woo woo (popular in the 80s) reconceptualised to include touches of hibiscus juniper vodka, Merlet peche and hibiscus tea. Available too is a thoughtful selection of non-alcoholic cocktails that don't skimp on flavour, such as the almond sour, an alcohol-free take on the amaretto sour.
165 Tanjong Pagar Road Amara Hotel, Tel: 9621 1074
Opening hours: (Sun-Thurs) 5pm-1am, (Fri-Sat) 5pm-3am