Whether you want a few beers with mates or a top DJ, Dean Chew, co-founder of record label Darker Than Wax, selects Singapore’s best night spots. Interview by Gwen Pew.
21 Nov 2014:
1925 Microbrewery & Restaurant
One of the newest microbreweries in town, 1925 opened in May, but is already a hit with the locals. It’s just down the road from Suprette (see below) and tucked away on the second- and third-floor spaces, but the building itself is bright yellow, so you won’t miss it. Decor is industrial chic, complete with concrete walls and exposed lightbulbs – a bit too hipster for some, but the dark and pale ales brewed in their three huge canisters are seriously good. The food is decent, but the star of the place is the delightful monthly line-up of tipples.
• 369 Jalan Besar, +65 6294 9215, the1925.com.sg. Open Mon-Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10am-10pm
Suprette is in Jalan Besar, which is well on its way to becoming the next hip neighbourhood in Singapore. It’s inside the quirky Kam Leng Hotel, which is part of the area’s conservation heritage trail. It does some fantastic burgers – the chickpea version is great for vegetarians – and stocks a wide range of mostly American craft beers, as well as ciders. There are a few tourists there during the day, but at night it’s mostly frequented by locals. It’s not much of a party spot, but a good place to while away an evening with good company.
• Kam Leng Hotel Lobby, 383 Jalan Besar, +65 6298 8962, suprette.com. Open breakfast and lunch Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm; dinner and drinks Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 6pm-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-12am
Blu Jaz Cafe
This is one of the few independently run night spots in Singapore – around for 10 years and it’s still packed all the time. It’s got a great vibe and a mixed demographic. The outdoor passageway is always lively; the first floor has free DJ nights every week, playing everything from hip-hop to dubstep, and the second floor space sees DJs or live jazz bands performing and also hosts stand-up comedy nights. There’s no dress code and everything’s very casual, but it has a natural energy and is a surefire hit for a good night out.
• 11 Bali Lane, + 65 9199 0610, blujazcafe.net. Open Tues-Thu 12pm-12.30am, Fri and Mon 12pm-1.30am, Sat 4pm-1.30am
Cable Car 1890s Saloon
In Cuppage – traditionally a Japanese area just off Singapore’s main shopping street, Orchard Road – Cable Car is a Japanese whiskey bar and watering hole that not too many people know about. There’s a huge variety of drinks on offer, including some great single malts like Yamakazi. It’s an offshoot of one of the oldest bars in Yokohama Chinatown in Japan, but has the woody interior of a San Francisco joint. Everything about it is rich – the colours, the textures, the smells – and you definitely feel like you’ve been transported out of Singapore.
• 49 Cuppage Terrace, + 65 6835 3545, sential.com.sg/cable_car.htm. Open Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat 12pm-2am, Sun 12pm-12am
Tucked behind a little doorway in the middle of Singapore’s financial district, kyo is just a year old but is hands down the best club in town right now. It’s in a cavernous basement (you’ll see the crowd long before you see the entrance), with a generous three-sided island bar in the middle. There’s a consistently good rota of international and local DJs playing house and techno, as well as cool street-style art on the walls. Kyo makes you feel comfortable: you can either shake it on the dance floor or chill out with your friends.
• #B1-02 Keck Seng Tower, 133 Cecil Street, clubkyo.com. Open Wed-Thu 9pm-4am, Fri 9pm-4.30am, Sat 11pm-6am
Jekyll & Hyde
As its name suggests, there are two sides to Jekyll & Hyde: during the day, it’s a nail salon called Manicurious, but at night it turns into a great drinking spot. The bar is at the back of the space, and bartender Jeff Ho knows his stuff. He mixes some stiff drinks – his smoky whiskey sour is legendary, as are his lovingly created cocktails. The space is engineered to feel small and intimate, and its warm tone lends an almost feminine feel. It embodies the izakaya (Japanese pub) concept and office workers flock there for post-work drinks.
• 49 Tras Street, +65 6222 3349, 49tras.st. Open Mon-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am
It’s a tiny, low-key speakeasy bar with a small DJ console, but Spiffy Dapper really reflects the hospitable personality of its owner, Abhishek Cherian George, who wants to make sure that everyone has a good time and is happy by the end of the night. It runs some great music nights such as Mugic, co-founded by local artists Mislav, Uly and Kentaro, and blasts a fun mix of deep house, disco and techno. It’s a really friendly place that pays tribute to the 1920s Jazz Age.
• #02-01, 61 Boat Quay, +65 8233 9810, spiffydapper.com. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-3am, Sat-Sun 8pm-3am
Colbar is essentially a shed, but it’s part of the city’s fabric and one of the best places to get away from the hustle and bustle. In Portsdown, in the western part of Singapore where the old British army barracks are, it’s something of an institution in a lush suburban area. Colbar has been run by the same couple since the 1950s. It’s super vintage, and when it moved to its current location around 10 years ago it maintained its original old-school look. They do an amazing fry-up in the morning, but it stays open at night too. The idyllic setting makes this a great place to hang out with mates over a few bottles of relatively cheap beer.
• Wessex Estate, 9A Whitchurch Road, +65 6779 4859, no website. Open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm
Another independently owned venue, Artistry is a mix of many things. There are great artworks by up-and-coming local artists on its walls, and it’s a popular cafe during the day for creative minds to meet and mingle. At night, it maintains its hip but relaxed vibe, and hosts themed music nights – from tribute concerts to Queen to hosting the first Y2K14 International LIVE LOOP ASIA Festival Singapore. Artistry provides emerging musicians with a stage and an audience. There’s a great deck outside for those who want to get some air.
• 17 Jalan Pinang, +65 6298 2420, artistryspace.com. Open Tue-Sat 10am-11.30pm, Sun 10am-7pm
Nestled in the intimate enclave of Amoy Street and just a stone’s throw from the business district, Sugarhall is a neat introduction to Singapore’s urban scene. With warm splashes of colour, wood and rattan furniture, plus a great soundtrack of reggae and ska, the bar and grill oozes charm like an exotic Caribbean-island hut. It has an extensive list of rum cocktails: the ron negroni – a delicious concoction of Cana Brava rum, Velvet Falernum, Mancino Rosso and Campari – is a must, and the starters are great to munch on – try the roasted beetroot with pickle, kale and mascarpone cheese. The bartenders and waiting staff are also impeccably mannered (a bit of a rarity in our city state), which enhances the overall vibe.
• 102 Amoy Street, sugarhall.sg. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-12am