First Timer’s Gin Guide to Singapore

Singapore is an OCD person’s dream come true. And if you’re also obsessed with the perfect Gin and Tonic, Singapore is the geographical G-spot. Honestly, what’s better than spotless roads and access to 1100 Gin labels? 

My first trip to the island country has been a life altering experience in governance and happy highs. In that order. How does a city of about 5 million run so efficiently that point to point travel time is 10 minutes at best?. Then there’s the Gin which is as diverse as the people. From the world’s largest Gin collection all the way to small-batch promoting underground pop-ups, Singapore’s spirit is intoxicating. Pun Intended.

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While I was in the city for a limited time only, my thirst for the city’s best Gin took me on an almost manic chase across neighbourhoods. Sacrificing life and liver, I’ve put together my top list of Gin Bars in the city- just for you. Because really, what is the purpose of my life if I can’t point you towards better drinking?

Atlas

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Imagine an Asian Sistine Chapel with shelves as high as the ceiling, all lined with the world’s most exhaustive collection of Gin. That is Atlas for you. A 60 page Gin menu sorted by country and indexed alphabetically feels like ASMR.

Sitting across the Atlas bar counter has been the highlight of my trip. Chatting with super informed bartenders who custom created cocktails off the menu was a superlative experience. We tasted gins from Netherlands, England and even Japan to arrive at the perfect pairing of base spirit with flavours. No request too silly and no shelf too high to find the Gin of your dreams. 

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Insider’s Tip: Don’t try and walk into the bar, chances are you’ll be turned down. I had heard rumours that they are booked 3 weeks ahead, which turned out to be true! Optionally, you could just go full Indian on them. By which I mean stand right in-front and stare them down. If you can make them awkward enough, they will move you to some form of seating, usually just to get rid of you. Same logic applies to bargain shopping in Delhi.

Junior

Spend a little time trying to locate this little gem in Tanjong Pagar, it’s worth the hunt Google Maps puts you through. This 10-cover bar felt more intimate than my grandmother’s living room. If Atlas is Aerosmith, Junior feels like a country indie band.  Every few months, they switch up the bar’s cocktail concept, which makes it as unpredictable as a Christopher Nolan movie. The theme this season is called ‘Pacifica – a heady exploration of the Polynesian-themed bars of America which featured classics, as well as a modern take on them.  I couldn’t help trying their version of the Singapore Sling, because why not. The bar has a lot of options to experiment and get you lei on.

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Insider’s Tip: Junior’s menu has a special section for lighter cocktails that feature lower ABV than others on the list. Check with the bar team, just incase you’re looking to avoid a hangover the next day.

Employees Only

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This New York institution’s first Asian outpost is a sexy ode to prohibition era classics. True to its speakeasy roots, there is no signage out front, you just have to follow your spidey sense to reach a neon sign that reads ‘Psychic’. Tuesday turned out to be rock and roll night with a full house of people across ethnicities. I must have walked past conversations of at least four languages before reaching my table. Bryan, our gracious mixologist chose to make me a classic EO Gimlet made of Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin shaken with lime cordial served over ice. A delicious reminder that the best beverage experience is often the simplest. EO feels like an extension of your favourite neighbourhood watering hole where the Gin has personality and the smiles are warm. This is a bar that deserves no last call. No wonder its among the World’s 50 best bars.

Insider’s Tip : Get your tipple nerd on with an eyeful of EO’s special bar techniques like the ‘free-pour’ style of crafting cocktails. And if you’ve got space left for more wow, give the West Village bar’s famous hand cut Steak Tartare a whizz. 

 

Special mention to Native, a temple of hyper-local Asian spirits with some seriously innovative cocktails that focus on locally sourced ingredients like coconut, curry leaves and pandan. Super chuffed to see Indian Rum and boutique Gins on their shelves. The team at Native makes it a point to give you a tour of their bar which also houses a mini lab responsible for homegrown blends and brews.

Singapore’s bar culture is full of creative energy and its love affair with Gin is only getting stronger. Do you have a favourite Gin bar that I should check out? Write in and let me know. 

Happy Tippling!

Image Credits: Sethlui.com | Atlas | Alex Pmr 

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