A drink lover’s guide to Singapore

One of the world's best bar scenes makes Singapore a dream destination for adventurous cocktail enthusiasts but there's plenty else for visitors with a love of fine food and drink

Words by Millie Milliken

Singapore lead
Cocktails with a view of Singapore at the Ritz-Carlton's Club Lounge

Gin, Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur, herbal liqueur, pineapple, lime, bitters and club soda: the ingredients of which, when garnished with an orange slice and a cherry, make up the famous Singapore Sling cocktail. Invented in the early 1900s by a bartender called Ngiam Tong Boon in the Raffles Hotel Long Bar, it’s a classic synonymous with the Lion City. Fast-forward a century and, while a trip to the iconic hotel to try one should really be on any Singapore first-timer’s list, the bars of this city have so much more to offer thirsty and adventurous travellers.

With a rich and storied cultural past, Singapore sits at the forefront of Southeast Asian visibility on the global stage. From Formula One to foodie accolades, it’s a city where a colourful, historical and charming character is interwoven with high-glamour, high-stakes and quite a few high-rise buildings. A melting pot of cultures means that Singapore’s flavour spectrum is vast but also focused on the heritage of Chinese, Malay and Indian cooking. And among it all is a bar scene that sits among and above some of the best around the world.

Supertrees in Singapore
The 'Supertrees' illuminated at night in front of the Marina Bay Sands hotel

Things to see and do in Singapore

Among Singapore’s many high-rises are plenty of opportunities to take in the nature that thrives in this metropolis. Located right by the famous Marina Bay Waterfront at the city’s heart is Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare site where you can explore conservatories filled with magnolias, orchids and rare fauna, while outside you’ll recognise the towering Supertrees, which when lit at night are a Singapore landmark – head to the Supertree Observatory for a 50m-high view of the bay below you.

Understanding Singapore’s food and drink culture is made easier with an understanding of the influences that surround it. While you’re walking around, keep an eye out for the myriad temples that pepper its streets. The Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, dates back to the 1860s and built by South Indian craftsman; as well as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Museum.

The UNESCO heritage Botanic Gardens are also a must-visit for nature lovers and if you’re in the mood to explore, the Southern Ridges 10k trail hits some of Singapore’s most beautiful parks. If you want to escape the city, head to Siloso Beach which is only a 30-minute cab ride away.

Lau Pa Sat centre
Lau Pa Sat, the largest of Singapore's 'hawker centres'

Where to eat and drink in Singapore

Singapore’s restaurant scene is a culinary showcase of the diversity of its people. With over 50 Michelin stars to boast about, it’s easy to eat well in Singapore. But it isn’t a truly authentic Singapore experience without a trip to a ‘hawker centre’ (and it’s just as tasty). Named after ‘hawkers’ who would sell their food and wares on the street, these indoor-outdoor food and drink markets are where you’ll find some of the most famous dishes in Singapore: Hainanese chicken rice, roti prata, nasi lemak, laksa and chilli crab, to name a few – all of which tell the story of Singapore’s rich and multicultural heritage.

The biggest is Lau Pa Sat with 80 vendors to choose from and housed in an old national monument in central Singapore’s Downtown Core district. However, at Maxwell Food Centre, it’s a real pleasure to compare and contrast the warring Tian Tian and Ah Tai chicken rice stands. Be sure to grab dessert, like pulut hitam (an Indonesian rice dessert) or red bean soup, or an iced teh tarik (tea with condensed milk) to go.



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Barbecue fans will enjoy the counter-side Australian-style Burnt Ends (try the signature sanger), while NYC’s much-hyped COTE Korean Steakhouse just opened this year, the first international outpost from the Michelin-starred restaurant. Traditional favourites such as Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata (for bowls of fish curry mopped up with the traditional Indian flatbreads) and Jumbo Seafood for black pepper Dungeness and chill mud crabs are a must-visit. And if it’s Michelin-starred fare you’re after in a Singaporean icon, head to La Dame du Pic at Raffles for dishes that combine chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s French roots with flavours from local markets – and, of course, her famous Berlingots-inspired pasta.



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While eating in Singapore is a national sport, it also has one of the most celebrated drinks scenes in the world. Among some of the most heralded bars in Singapore, two which definitely need ticking off the list are Jigger & Pony and 28 HongKong Street. Jigger & Pony’s labyrinthine setting makes it the perfect bar to bed in – whether you fancy sitting on high tables for a view of the main bar or a more secluded spot to enjoy the bar’s Identity menu, which spans classics, twists and future-looking cocktails (my favourite is the Greatest Of All Time, a collaboration with local Hay Dairies goat farm). 28 HongKong Street gives more of a speakeasy vibe, where you’re more likely to be inhaling its signature mac n cheese balls with clever cocktails that reimagine the classics.

While the city’s most long-standing bars certainly didn’t disappoint, some of its newer or lesser known venues are at the top of my list when it comes to discovering the burgeoning innovation in Singapore right now. While its sister bar Native might be the original (and definitely worth a trip), Analogue from Vijay Mudaliar is one of the best bars I visited last year. Continuing Mudaliar’s commitment to sustainability, it’s fully plant based and its 3D-printed bar, made from 1,600kg of plastic bottles, is a showstopper. The char siew mantou aubergine buns are the snack to order while working your way through ingredient-bending cocktails (and a strong non-alcoholic list too).



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If you fancy some impromptu dancing and Highballs, head to No Sleep Club where the staff behind the bar are as effortlessly cool as the atmosphere; while you’ll find agave- and rice spirit-focused Cat Bite Club round the back of a coffee shop in Duxton, bringing Mexico and Southeast Asia together with its takes on classics (the Meow Now Brown Cow is excellent). And do try and get to The Elephant Room on Tanjong Pagar Road, where ingredients and inspirations are a tribute to the Indian community in Singapore: flower crab distillate, biriyani tincture, ghee sake – it’s a ride.

Origin Bar
Origin Bar at the Shangri-La

Where to stay in Singapore

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels in Singapore and attention to detail is generally excellent. The view from the Marina Bay View suites at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is hard to beat, with your bath’s octagonal window framing the sights of some of Singapore’s most famous landmarks (and waking up to those vistas via remote-controlled blinds is breathtaking). Once you can peel yourself away, breakfast at its Colony restaurant is a must, as is a dip in the spectacular pool and dinner in the hotel’s Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Summer Pavilion. Be sure to start or end your night at the award-winning Republic bar too, where Singapore’s independence is celebrated through 1960s-inspired cocktails and some seriously special vintage spirits.

For shorter stays, book yourself into the Mondrian Singapore Duxton. If you can nab a corner room, you’ll get optimal floor-to-ceiling views and the location is perfect for a trip to the Maxwell Food Centre and the surrounding bars (in fact, it’s ideal for zipping around Singapore’s hotspots easily). The rooftop pool is rather special too.

Breakfast at Tiffanys cocktail
The Breakfast at Tiffany's cocktail at Republic, a variation of a Martini that contains Maraschino

If you’d prefer to be slightly removed from the hustle and bustle, then the Shangri-La Singapore is your spot. Located just a short walk from the Botanic Gardens, this hotel has everything you’d expect from this iconic brand. The Tower Wing Junior suites all come with characterful individual furniture and a kitchen if you fancy a cosy night in during rainy season. The hotel is huge but service still feels personal and the biggest draw for drink lovers is Origin Bar, which is worth a visit even if you’re not staying. Inspired by classic train travel, cocktails have been cleverly developed and the team has access to some serious equipment for delivering them. Look out for some of best garnishes in the game too.

Warehouse bar
The Lobby Bar at The Warehouse Hotel

If you’re a lover of boutique hotels, The Warehouse Hotel will appeal. Perched on the bank of the Singapore River in Robertson quay (and housed in a restored heritage building), this industrial-style hotel is simultaneously slick and chilled. Rooms come with high ceilings, tactile furnishings and clever layouts, with smart glass partitions and practical sections dividing the spaces deftly. Its Lobby Bar punches above its weight too, with a serious and international spirits and wine selection, and a small but perfectly formed cocktail list (and excellent glassware). The hotel’s Po restaurant also turns out modern Singapore classics – congee at breakfast is a beautiful thing.

Atlas bar
The spectacular gin tower at Atlas Bar

The ultimate drinking destination in Singapore

No drink lover’s trip would be complete in Singapore without taking in the spectacle of Atlas Bar. Housed within the Parkview Square building, it is a jaw-dropping venue: a high-octane 1920s homage of a building (gilded everything, high ceilings, plentiful artwork in the peripheries).

Its unmissable centrepiece is a 26ft high, 1,300 bottle-strong gin tower (mooted as the largest in the world). The selection spans over 55 countries and rare releases are sat alongside cocktail cabinet staples. ‘Gins of the World’ flights are popular, allowing guests to try a selection of favourites picked by the bartenders.

The cocktail list is pretty exhaustive, with the classics forming the basis of the Atlas signatures, as well as twists on familiar formats. Vintage cocktails are, of course, on the menu (choose a gin from the decade of your choice from 1910-1990s to make your Martini) and at the bottom of each cocktail page is something for the more adventurous – from a DIY Martini to bartender’s choice. And if you want to toast the end of an epic trip with Champagne, fear not – you’ve got 250 of those to choose from here too.