Drinking alone gets an unfair bad rap. Rather than the domain of sad, friendless losers, we think it’s actually a lost art of self-affirmation that should be practiced not at home in front of the couch, but in Singapore’s sexiest bars. (It’s also a great chance to chat up cute bartenders.) So channel your inner James Bond, Don Draper, Samantha Jones, Holly Golightly and go to town.
Sure, it’s packed to the gills almost every night of the week, but one of Singapore’s most famous bars (and a proud member of the World’s 50 Best Bars list) has an uncanny ability to make solo drinkers feel welcome, thanks in part to the friendly crew, the beautiful crowd and all the informal milling about in between tables. If drinking alone for you means finding new people to talk to, it will probably happen here. In the meantime, order up one of their potent and inventive signature cocktails, some of their truffle mac n’ cheese balls and survey the room benevolently.
Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
No one will bother you at this hidden, retro-themed bespoke cocktail bar, tucked away above a convenience store in otherwise raucous Boat Quay. If you come early in the evening, you might even have the place to yourself. Tell the bartender your preferred spirits and flavor profiles, and they’ll whip something up for you. Their classics like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans are tasty and strong, too. Sip them alongside traditional eats like Hokkien mee and char kway teow. 60A Boat Quay, 6535-0838. Open Mon-Thu 6pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 6pm-3am.
Hotel bars were made for drinking alone (thanks, Bill Murray circa Lost in Translation!) and you’ll never look cooler than when you do it at our favorite one: think dramatic light fixtures, sculptural wall hangings, Peranakan touches and good service. And if you’re feeling chatty, you’ll have good company at the bar with kindly head bartender Tom Hogan or Bannie Kang, who both push out consistently strong and good signature drinks. Try something from their new menu full of takes on classics, The Revivals. 1/F Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Rd., 6431-5315. Open daily 5pm-2am.
The Auld Aliiance
With plush, leather seats that line their cocktail bar, The Auld Alliance is a great place for those who just want to nose their whisky in peace. This place stocks well over 1,000 Scotches on its lofty shelves covering every distillery in Scotland from affordable drops to truly astonishing bottles like the Mortlach 70-year-old, the world’s oldest whiskey (distilled in 1938). The bar also has a number of whiskys from Japan, the US and Ireland, Armagnac, over two dozen absinthes and an impressive Champagne selection. #02-02A Rendezvous Hotel, 9 Bras Basah Rd., 6337-2201. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am; Sun 5pm-midnight.
With its dim interiors and dark wooden furniture, Bukit Pasoh’s cocktail bar is the perfect retreat if you’re a recluse. So careful and theatrical is the Ginza celeb bartender Daiki Kanetaka’s whole schtick, it’s clear the purpose here isn’t to socialize and chat with your buddies but to watch him as he struts about in white double-breasted suits and deploying surgically precise techniques while underlings hand him towels. If not for the theater, come for the focus on sherry, Armagnac and calvados and the bespoke cocktail service. 2 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 8141-5741. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am.
You’ll want to dress up for a date with yourself and some solid classic cocktails at this stylish and hidden speakeasy on Bukit Pasoh. You’ll have to walk through a concret corridor and up a short flight of stairs before you reach this retro-opulent space.The decor is upscale speakeasy, with marble top tables, a geometric stained glass bar facade and retro-chic glassware.The house cocktail, The Gibson ($24), is a smooth mix of Hendrick’s, Monkey 47 and Dolin vermouth. It comes with a house-pickled onion, of course, along with a quail’s egg and smoked radish. Also intriguing is the potent Crimson Bullet ($24), with Don Julio white tequila, Alipus mezcal, fennel-y Kummel, beetroot and lime. Drinks mostly hover around $22-25, except in the Reserve section. $90 Sazerac anyone? Come early to have the place to yourself. 20 Bukit Pasoh Road., 9114 8385, Open Tue-Sun 5pm-late
The Horse’s Mouth
Imagine you’re an Asian action movie star brooding over your next big plan at this underground bar. (It even comes with a secret entrance through a ramn bar.) Whether it’s using sake or other Japanese ingredients, the muted space is a backdrop for inventive concoctions. Even the interiors are subtle and discreet with splashes of color coming from the origami-like cascades by the wall. And if you’re feeling hungry, order a bowl from Uma Uma Ramen upstairs. #B1-39 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Rd., 6235-1088, Mon-Thu 6pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 6pm-1am.
If you just want to be left alone, this is the place. Unlike other speakeasies in town, Oxwell and Co.’s hush-hush basement cocktail bar is serious about its secrecy. Their website is decidedly minimalist, and their Facebook page has no pictures or updates. All the more reason to feel extra cool when you’re down at the bare-walled, concrete-floored space, knocking back kooky cocktails from their omakase flight. Don’t miss the Egg, made with salted egg, vanilla and caramel. #B1-01 7 Ann Siang Hill, 6438-4057. Open Tue-Sat 6pm-late.
The Secret Mermaid
One of the best things about this bar is its hidden, hole-in-the-wall approach. If alone doesn’t have to mean quiet, you’ll like doing your solo drinking among the cozy bustle here. This space is a casual Japanese eatery Shinkansen by day and a liquor retail store and cocktail bar by night. This hidden hangout specializes in rare, small-batch, handcrafted spirits, specifically gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. For cocktails, there are classics like the Spiced Blueberry Mojito, Salted Caramel Old Fashioned, or the Sangria Sour. #B1-08 Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay, Open Mon-Fri 5-11pm.
Pretend you’re Gabrial Garcia Marquez and hunker down for 100 years of solitude at this South American bar, with leather booths, hanging copper lamps and a focus on mezcal, cachaca, rum, pisco and tequila. The best time to come here would be before dinner where you’ll get to enjoy cheekily-named cocktails like the Cusco Puta with pisco, strawberry, capsicum, chili and lime, alongside caipirinhas and pisco sours. The kitchen dishes out empanadas, a few ceviche and heartier offerings like cubanos. Things get busy later at night, in case you feel like looking up from your drink and chatting someone up. 42 Hongkong St., 8799-7085. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-1am.