Boat Quay gin bar with British-Indian grub
If stuffy spirits and cocktail bars got you turning away from them out of discomfort, then the raw industrial vibes and casual approach towards mixology that this bar takes will be a welcome breath of fresh air.
The first thing you’ll notice about beGIN is its location. Found above Boat Quay British pub stalwart Penny Black, the same owners have converted the upstairs space into a somewhat hidden away (save for a pink neon sign that reads “Gin this Way”) alcove for lovers of the juniper-flavoured spirit.
Grab a seat by the bar or on one of their coloured stools, but whatever you do, you’d want to flip out your phones for photo ops. Most of their concoctions are made with obvious sensory impact in mind. Start with their signature Jagmohan ($25), that’s actually a platter that comes with three items: the drink, fried crisps with chutney, and a saucer of dry ice puffing up whiffs of mixed spice for a lasting olfactory sensation.
The most visually pleasing drink has got to be the Lavender ($25). The purple coloured cocktail comes to you in a bell jar filled with smoke, and unveiling the glass tube sends lavender aromas every which way; again for impact on your senses of sight and smell. Then there’s the Koko ($23), a non gin-based drink, made with cocoa-infused rum, that catches flames in a dehydrated orange cup seated atop the drink.
Interestingly, beGIN also offers a neat Gin Flight ($28), where you get to taste four gins—Zeer Oude Bols Genever, Hayman’s Old Tom, Tanqueray London Dry and Hendrick’s. The flight is meant as a walkthrough of the historical stages of gin, starting with the traditional genever, up to the modish Hendrick’s Gin. We reckon a fifth locally-distilled Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin outta make its way into the flight.
The British-Indian bar bites menu is a great choice; not only is it unique, but fits in with the whole English theme downstairs and up. Everyone who enters gets papadums as a complimentary snack, but you’ll want to enhance that with a Royal Catanee ($4) platter of three dips that ranges from mild to punchy flavours. For something more filling, the Samboo-sa Pasties ($11 for three pieces) are luxed up versions of curry puffs, filled with chicken marinated in a tantalizing spice mix.
Unlike what its name suggests however, beGIN is a great place for ending, and not starting, the night—stiff drink and papadums in hand. Either that, or just spend your entire evening here, and easily fill up on plates of chaat.