Photo: HungryGoWhere Photos
You are never too far from a bar in the city's Central Business District. From those that cater to the post-work happy-hour crowd to the city's top rooftop spots and legenadary bars serving heritage cocktails - the CBD has them all. We walk along Marina Boulevard, Collyer Quay and The Fullerton area to grab a beer, sip a cocktail and sample bar snacks. Here are our top picks.
Late night bar and diner with plenty of choices
The kitchen of this bar and diner is open to orders until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, though that is only half the reason it’s the default choice for night owls looking for some revelry in the CBD. The drinks menu of this Butter Factory sister establishment is extensive, and will please anyone in a drinking group – there are eight beers, seven types of gin – including the Monkey 47 ($18 per glass), 33 whiskey choices (off-the-shelf, single, pure malt and Japanese; $12-$35 per glass) and 30 wines (eight by the glass) to pick from, and we’re merely grazing. Music can take over your conversation, but the entire space fills up quickly, the more popular seats being the indoor booths and the al fresco tables. Personally, we like the sofas overlooking the bay for some light show action
OverEasy | Address: #01-06, One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road | Tel: 64230701 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-4am
Five Izakaya Bar
Five dollar specials in the CBD
“Five dollar specials all day, every day” is the tagline for this bar inspired by Japan’s 300-yen bars. The specials range from drinks such as Asahi draught, sake, shochu, choya, red and white wines and house pour spirits, to portions of bar snacks like chicken karaage (usual price $6.55) and potato wedges (usual price $5.55). The bar is a welcome find in the usually pricey CBD. Sure, the indoor space of this Collyer Quay branch looks like an inefficient assemblage (it’s set against a unmountable giant steps that is a hazard if you try to venture up – authorization given only to the musicians), which is why the crowds spill out onto the sidewalk. Unlike many establishments, this isn’t just hype - that this Collyer Quay bar has expanded to two more locations is testament that this concept works, anywhere really.
Five Izakaya Bar | Address: #01-05B, Hitachi Tower, 16 Collyer Quay | Tel: 65368955 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-12am, Sat 6pm-12am
Waterfront views and signature cocktails
A preferred spot to view the Marina Bay waterfront and Singapore skyline, their tables for special occassions (National Day fireworks, NYE, CNY and more) are sold out weeks in advance. Lantern gets its name from Clifford Pier’s historical Chinese name - “Red Lantern Pier”. We like visiting them even on on quieter weekdays and sipping on their signature cocktails, either the Merlion (Tequila, young ginger, honey, lime and soda, $22) or the Red Lantern (tequila, watermelon, cucumber and lemon, $24) - time it right and you could be watching the Marina Bay light & sound show from this unbeatable view.
Book a table here | Address: The Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay | Tel: 63338388 | Opening hours: Daily 12pm-2am
A gastrobar with a fine pedigree
The owners behind Kinki, Bedrock Bar & Grill and Fat Cow, have once again applied their winning formula to this corner outpost of One Fullerton. With an interior that harkens the classic public house and gentleman’s bar, it doesn’t buy into the current industrial-chic design fad, which makes for a refreshing change. Drinks, too, are far from run-of-the-mill – a list of “Pelican” cocktails includes the eponymous Pelican ($20) – a refreshingly fruity concoction of vodka, apricot, orange liqueur, raspberry and sparkling wine; or the Brasilican ($16), which is a cachaca, basil, lime and kumquat mix. They’re the work of award-winning mixologist Richard Gillam who once held court at Swissotel’s City Space. Food-wise, like its fish-munching namesake, it’s all seafood here. We recommend the potted prawns ($14), fried squid 9$18) and crab cakes ($22) for pub grub but if you want something filling try The Pelican Platter ($128), which is a smorgasbord of the freshest catch (raw oysters & clams, steamed whole lobster, crab, prawns and mussels).
Book a table here | Address: #01-01 One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road | Tel: 64380400 | Opening hours: Mon-Thu & Sat 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-2am
A good wine selection and breathtaking views
270 degree views, while sitting inside a stunning gazebo-like structure high up on the top-floor of the CBD's Ocean Financial Centre - that is Zafferano for you. This is the CBD bankers' after hours drink spot for good reason. Their wine list is impressive and largely Italian. Available by the glass is everything from an affordable Prosecco Astoria Lounge ($15) to a Tignanello 2011 from Toscano ($46). The restaurant serves excellent and sophisticated Italian fare, so this is also a great spot for pre-dinner drinks.
Book a table here | Address: Level 43, Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay | Tel: 65091488 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm, Mon-Wed 5.30pm-11.45pm, Thu-Sat 5.30pm-1am
Kinki Rooftop Bar
Sexy and edgy Japanese inspired bar
Graffiti walls with Godzilla crossing’ road signs, red Asakusa-type lanterns and a menu of Japanese-inspired drinks give this rooftop bar a gritty, after work booze-up vibe to it. Not where you’ll take a first date (thought you might nab an impromptu one here), the happy hour (one for one on Monday-Friday 5-8pm, Saturday 6-9pm) keeps this spot buzzing with a flow of woe-betide CBD-ers. The slightly overpriced bar bites menu with everything from a sushi platter, nachos and okonomiyaki suddenly becomes a good idea after you start seeing double of the impossible-to-miss Marina Bay Sands. Order up a umeshu-based Kinki original cocktail. Our pick would be the Nippon Chi Chi ($18). Tropical in taste but potent, it’s made with rum, coconut, cream, yuzu umeshu and splashes of orange and pineapple juice.
Kinki Rooftop Bar | Address: #02-02 Customs House, 70 Collyer Quay | Tel: 65333471 | Opening hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-late
Classic cocktails given an innovative twist
Few bars are able to pull off what Catalunya has: to actively sell and be known for a drink using blue cheese – we won’t tell you more but do try the Lola. While drinks at this sexy, light-filled space (interiors done by AvroKO) are on the pricey side, you do excuse them (a little) when you’ve tried cleverly twisted drinks such as the Green Day (a Tiki-style rum drink made with Sagatiba Cachaca and green tea, $20) and The Missionary Julep, a modern twist on the Julep mojito (22). Their Wednesday Ladies Night one-for-one promotion sees the spot packed. For a quieter vibe, go on a Sunday where you can (pardon the cliché) drink in the view. What to drink? Hands down, it has to be the Reversed Gin and Tonic ($28). Created by Catalunya’s Dario Nocentini, they’re limited to 50 a week. Why? Because they make their own tonic with cardamom, red pepper, cucumber and a few other secret ingredients. The healthy splash of Martin Miller’s gin is icing on the cake.
Catalunya | Address: The Fullerton Pavillion, 82 Collyer Quay | Tel: 65340188 | Opening hours: Daily midnight-2am
A drink at Singapore's highest point
Ride the elevator up to level 63 of One Raffles Place building to have a drink at the world's highest al fresco bar. Great as a night spot and for sundowners, 1-Altitude is one of those places where the drinks don’t matter, you can drink in the 360 degree views and that‘ll be enough. Since you are there, order one of the 'sky high' (read: potent) cocktails, like the Graveyard, which is a heady mix of gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whisky, brandy and stout ($28), if you aren’t into mixing your drinks (we aren’t), Altitude has a dependable selection of wines, whiskys, beers and more.
1-Altitude | Address: #63-01, One Raffles Place, 1 Raffles Place | Tel: 64380410 | Opening hours: Mon-Thur 6pm-2am Fri, Sat and Eve of PH 6pm-4am, Sun 6pm-1am
THERE IS A LOT MORE TO DRINK (AND EAT) IN THE CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT. READ HERE FOR PART TWO.