Hidden Haji Lane shophouse bar offering bespoke cocktails with an Asian twist
Behind a nondescript wooden door that would otherwise be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of touristic Haji Lane, is where you’ll find an undiscovered gem in the bespoke cocktail scene.
Tucked away up a flight of dimly lit stairs, be transported back to 1950s Singapore as you take a seat in one of their (two) cozy booths surrounded by shelves of antique furniture and potion-esque flasks. And it is here, with the windows barred, a retro electric table fan blowing, and oriental music from decades ago faintly playing in the background that you’ll begin on a one-of-a-kind journey.
Helmed by the founder of The Spiffy Dapper, George Cherian, this hyper-local bar was built to be the creative R&D wing for local distillers Tanglin Gin. But where on-trend bars such as Barbary Coast and The Old Man are progressing towards using cutting edge, advanced technology, Oriental Elixir creates an unmistakable dichotomy with their relaxed, old school vibe.
All cocktails ($25 nett) here are bespoke, meaning the same drink is never made twice. Now you could request for a standard old fashioned, but surely there’s no fun in that. Instead, let George or Johnny (the other resident bartender) know what you normally like to drink, your preferred flavour profile, and they’ll concoct something special up for you on the spot. The aim really is to explore flavours more in-depth instead of focusing on the presentation of the cocktail; this leads to a bit of an experimental situation where you’ll witness homemade amaros, bitters and infusions make its way into your drink.
Shimeji Gin: Hon-Shimeji is dried using a dehydrator for 48 hours and infused with Tanglin’s White Orchird Gin for a week
In their quest to reconcile and pay homage to Singapore’s melting pot of identities, their cocktails tend to embody our different cultures to reflect the intricate weaving of our social fabric. Think Octopus, Shrimp, Goreng Pisang or Laksa Leaf Infused Gin and syrups with familiar flavours such as Bak Ku Teh, Tteok-Bboki, and even Marmite.
The possibilities are endless, and we mean it when we say expect the unexpected. In true vintage fashion, drinks are similarly served in glasses worthy of being a collector’s item, like many of the other furnitures on display—some of which actually originate from the Sungei Road Thieves' Market years ago.
Octopus Infused Gin, Bon Cabe Lvl 15 Syrup and Fresh Lemon
Laksa Leaf Infused Gin with Pani Puri Syrup, Fresh Lime, and Egg White
The bar counter is open for your viewing pleasure, and you’re welcome to go behind the scenes where the magic happens to inspect some of the mind-boggling and unique elixirs. It's a great way to spend the evening hidden away from the rest of the world, catching up with your friends over a fun, refreshing cocktail or simply admiring the handcrafted decor in this small, homely and unpretentious bar.
With its limited seating capacity, perhaps you'll find yourself striking up a conversation with a stranger to trade stories or experiences that similarly transcends time, space and cultures.