Photo: Zui Hong Lou
After 7pm over the weekends, Chinatown’s hippest enclave – Ann Siang Hill and Club Street – close its roads to vehicles to cater to all sorts of pedestrian merriment. And boy is there revelry: when choices range from rare whiskey and well-made cocktails to cult-followed craft beers, you know there will be some form of drink-fueled debauchery. We’ve put together an honest list of 17-and-a-half establishments – and some grub recommendations too – worthy of everyone’s patronage, starting from the top of the hill:
On Ann Siang Hill
No kids and plenty of big cocktails
Located on a sequestered corner on the outskirts of Ann Siang Hill, one of PS.Café’s five outlets is a bar-cation of sorts for those looking for a quieter respite. Infamous for its no-children policy and an unfortunate accident of a female tourist falling off its open-air balcony and into a coma, the charming café sits right up there with the age-old adage: there is no such thing as bad publicity. If you are willing to shrug it off as a matter of unfortunate circumstances, its reliable European fusion fare and cocktail menu of 24 (not including the three sangrias, 11 wines by the glass, nine bubblies and nine beers) will meet you halfway, in massive portions. We recommend their well-balanced negroni that’s not too sweet or too bitter.
PS.Café | Address: 45 Ann Siang Road | Tel: 97970648 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-midnight
Jazz, and over 100 labels of whiskey
Over 100 labels of whisky occupy the shelves of this intimate, 35-seat jazz-led basement bar, and you can have most of them by the nip from $10. Mixing these premium malts – like the discontinued sherry casked Ardmore 1977, the rare Glen Grant 1965 and the vintage Macallan 1965 (all ranging from $10 a nip to $7,000 a bottle) – even with water, is frowned upon here. Classical jazz numbers stream from the speakers, the in-wall television, and on stage — the latter whenever the sultry tenor saxophonist Nicole Duffell is in town (performances usually start after 10.30pm). Complimentary pork sandwiches (made near the bar) are served from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Warning: this is also when the room starts to smell funky.
B28 | Address: Basement, The Club Hotel, 28 Ann Siang Road | Tel: 90263466 | Opening hours: Tue-Sat 5pm-2am
Le Carillon de L'Angelus
$10 wines even Parisians approve of
It’s difficult to find affordable French wines anywhere outside of France, so this one’s a definitely keeper: house wines from regions such as Chablis, Sancerre, Bordeaux and Cote du Rhone go for $8 to $10 during happy hour from 4pm to 8pm. Helps that the vibe – French movie posters on the wall, a quaint basement with a pool table, snooty garcons – and the bite-sized French fare and fresh salads pair well. Note: champagne by the bottle are relatively affordable here too – while Mumm and Perrier-Jouët go for $78++ and $88++ respectively, the Billecart-Salmon and Moët & Chandon can be had at $108++ per bottle. There is also always a bottle on promotion: this is currently the Jean Veselle – a choice of the brut, rose, semi-rose or semi-sweet rose – at $68++ per bottle
Le Carillon de L'Angelus | Address: 24 Ann Siang Road | Tel: 64230353 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri noon-1am, Sat 6pm-1am
A Chinese club that’s Tippling over
This hipsterifically tacky-Chinese-themed shophouse bar-restaurant by Ryan Clift – chef, TV host and founder of Tippling Club (Drinks International’s ‘World's 50 Best Bars’) –reinterprets Southeast Asian flavours and delivers them in robust tapas style, drinks included. While its small dishes are punchy (and filling) enough, the savoury cocktails blend Asian spices and herbs with premium liquors well. The spiced rum-based Pirates of Malacca ($18) is an invigorating marriage of scotch and chartreuse.
BOOK A TABLE HERE| Address: 23 Ann Siang Road | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-midnight
Boutique champagnes, wines and whiskey
With close ties to Lollapalooza (its owners started guerrilla-style underground supper club, Lolla's Secret Suppers, in 2008), expect the selection to be hand-picked and boutique: from Legras & Haas champagne ($30 per glass) and Isole e Olena dessert wine ($130 per bottle) to Paul Bara vintage champagnes ($172-$280 per bottle) and Glen Garioch 1986 Vintage whiskey ($66 per shot). Note that this industrial chic, warehouse-styled space, adheres to a no-reservations policy, except for lunch. When you do get a spot, seats at the 13-seat open kitchen-bar counter are the ones to hanker for so you can watch all the action. There's also a 22-seat communal table in the basement.
Lolla| Address: 22 Ann Siang Road | Tel: 64231228 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-2pm and 6pm-midnight
The Screening Room
Intimate setting for wine and rooftop meat market with cocktails
Trip straight down to Mamounia Lounge in the basement or up to the La Terraza bar on the rooftop. The former’s a cosy space that serves Moroccan, Turkish and Iranian fare (from $24) and wines ($16 per glass; from $88 per bottle) from Australia, Italy and New Zealand, to name a few. At the sometimes breezeless rooftop (bring a handheld fan if you must) the selection of cocktails is standard, but the locale has continued to be a favourite for those looking to pick up.
Book a table here | Address: 12 Ann Siang Road | Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm and 6-10pm
Oxwell & Co.
Cloying cocktails from the pipe
We are holding our breath in anticipation of the day Gordon Ramsay berates his former right-hand man Mark Sargeant for the blasphemy of offering poor cocktails on tap. Yes, drinks are an acquired taste, and there are a few who swear by Oxwell’s offerings. Not us – the gastrobar’s gin and tonic, sangria, and Cuba Libre (each $12) is overly sweet, and piped from a keg that has been christened as a diabetes catalyst. Still, it’s packed to the rafters and out onto the sidewalk on most weekend nights. You be the judge.
Oxwell & Co. | Address: 5 Ann Siang Road | Tel: 64383984 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-1am, Sat & public holidays 4pm-2am
With a finger on Singapore's nightlife pulse, Zul Andra has been writing about the country's burgeoning drinks and party scene for the past 3 years. He currently writes for inSing.com, Esquire, The New Paper, Juice magazine, Red Bull.sg and Diageo Bar Academy. His work can also be found in Travel+Leisure, Time Out Singapore, Scoot and SMILE in-flight magazine, NYLON, ZIGGY and I-S. By night, he's the publicist at Feedback Asia, a Singapore-based booking agency, and occasionally throw parties and DJs at kyō, Loof and Gem Bar.