The truth is you can’t spit without hitting about five bars in the crowded Telok Ayer neighbourhood (and that isn’t even because spitting in Singapore is illegal!). Located in the Central Business District and adjacent to several busy corporate neighbourhoods, Club Street has become a flourishing scene of partying and networking. This Telok Ayer neighbourhood is certainly helped by the fact that some of the roads like Club Street and Ann Siang Hill are closed to traffic Friday-Sunday nights to encourage the revelry. Here’s our round-up of the best bars to spend your hard earned cash in Telok Ayer.
Freehouse is committed to serving good beer and good food. They have 16 beer taps that are constantly rotating (be sure to ask for a sample!) as well as an extensive list of bottles from craft breweries all over the world. Hidden in the upper part of a shophouse, you have to look carefully to find Freehouse – just look for the stairs that lead to beer heaven. Besides beers, they also have a menu of modern takes on Asian traditional food like the Kimchi Bulgogi Dog and Masala Mushroom Baos.
Singapore is no stranger to hidden bars like 28HKS and The Library, but Operation Dagger may be Singapore’s best example of that category. Hidden away in plain sight in an unmarked basement on Ann Siang and with no social media accounts, this bar was pretty much unknown until it made its debut in spot #21 on this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars list. Operation Dagger is a true bespoke cocktail bar with bartender Luke Whearty at the helm with drinks like the Egg; a yolk that has been sealed overnight with dark rum and sugar and served with egg yolk liqueur, smoked star anise, and a touch of salted caramel.
Cocktail lovers in Singapore were thrilled when one of Manhattan‘s most famous bars announced that they would be opening a location in Singapore. The best way to find Employees Only SG is to look for a pink neon sign that reads ‘Psychic’. Here you will find an unmarked door, covered by a curtain. When you enter, choose to turn left and have your fortune read, or make your way into the bar. To be sure the Singapore location held to the same standard, Steve Schneider, owner of the NYC location, has moved to Singapore to teach his apprentices how to make cocktails using the free-pouring technique. Employees Only SG puts an equal amount of effort into their food prep: tuck into a delicious steak tartare or some bone marrow poppers to go along with your drinks.
With several media offices located in China Point Square just above Club Meatballs, their clientele is usually a mix of young professionals who work in media and tech. This bar, with its outside tables and friendly staff, can be a refreshing break from some of the more elitist bars in the area. As the name suggests, their main culinary offering is a selection of meatballs in different sauces that go perfectly with a few afterwork drinks. Try to get here during happy hour, daily from 4pm-8pm, when house pour spirits are just $8++.
The China Square location of Folks Collective is housed in a vintage shophouse. With an air of nostalgia, accompanied by delicious Thai food, Folks Collective is a great place for when to go for when you want to enjoy al fresco dining and drinks without the threat of inclement weather. Meals and cocktails are served at their communal tables, and the décor of the restaurant itself is inspired by a former train station turned into a Bangkok night market.
The Screening Room is part boutique theatre and part rooftop bar. Opened nearly a decade ago in 2007, they were one of the first bars to open in the area as Telok Ayer became the go-to destination for great bars. The theatre is delightfully cosy, giving the feeling of being at once in someone’s living room and a bar. Enjoy a glass of wine and some tapas while you watch a film. Afterwards, head upstairs to the alfresco rooftop bar and enjoy sweeping views of downtown Singapore.
To find B28, look for The Club Hotel, but don’t go in! Instead, look for the double doors in the alley to the side of the hotel. When you enter the bar, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the past, greeted by shelves of whisky and live jazz performances. B28 was the first bar in Singapore to specialise in the independent bottlers and distillers of Scotland. Not sure where to start? The manager is a certified whisky expert and offers regular tasting flights to help customers better understand the traits of each unique bottle.
Tiger’s Milk just had their official opening last month and has already been recognised for being one of the best new cocktail bars in Singapore. This Peruvian bar and grill adds something new to the mostly European and Contemporary cuisine found in Telok Ayer. Along with authentic ceviche in a homemade sauce, they serve other traditional Peruvian food like anticuchos (grilled meat on a skewer) and causa (a layered starter, often with potato and tuna).