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Spotlight on Singapore bar culture

Cocktail culture is here to stay

The Singapore Sling may have originally put the city on the global cocktail map, but today it is the bar culture making new headlines.

A city’s bar culture is shaped by the elements around, and it is a unique blend of its place and its people that have made the Singapore bar culture so vibrant and unique. Today there is something for everyone: fine dining restaurants, sports pubs, local bars and KTV joints, glamorous night-clubs, craft beer bars, and some of the finest cocktail establishments that would not be out of place in Manhattan.The bar culture is diverse and bartenders are encouraged to be creative.

Singapore's bar culture gets crafty

While other Asian cities have embraced a hedonistic drinking culture, with large clubs and bottle service, which of course can be found here, Singapore, is leading the way for the region when it comes to the more understated craft-driven cocktail venues – both in terms of the quality and quantity of bars.

Early bar pioneers, No.5 Emerald Hill and Coffee Bar K, the latter a long standing haven of exquisite Japanese influenced bar techniques, are still holding their own and well worth a visit. Tippling Club, with its avant-garde style, has shown that cocktail culture is here to stay.

During recent years, an influx of foreign talent with overseas influences, has added a creativity and freshness to the well-established and more traditional bar culture, creating a unique style of quality served with a relaxed ‘can do’ attitude.

Speakeasies, barrel-aged cocktails, multi-sensory experiences, rare spirits, or craft cocktails… you can get them all. 28 Hong Kong Street, The Cufflink Club, Bar Stories and others have raised the bar, and are being talked about around the world, and I can now get a great tasting, consistently well-made cocktail, served by a knowledgeable and passionate bartender in bars all over the city, from hotel bars and after-work hangouts, to quirky laneway cafes and world food restaurants.

The future is bright as the next wave of local operators rise up – mixing what they have learnt from the international bar pioneers with a Singaporean touch - and I can’t wait to see what is new when I next visit.

By Andy Gaunt for Drinks World Asia, a quarterly trade magazine for the Asian beverage industry.