The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Cocktail bars proliferated, craft beer took off and more restaurants got serious with their cocktail programs. 2014 was a year of great openings for the Singapore bar scene, but how to wade through them all? We look back on all the best places we drank (and lined our stomachs) at in the past 12 months and give you the lowdown. 

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Bar Before 10pm

It’s not quite a boozy lunchtime retreat, but the earlier opening hours makes this a great hideaway for a quick zi char-inspired drink. Kooky cocktails like the cereal prawn-tasting Golden 933 is perfect for prolonging that lunchtime feeling and are courtesy of head bartender Kino Soh of Bar Stories fame. Plus, we think the Red Dot Museum is best appreciated in the daylight anyway. 

Best New Bar After 10pm

Everyone’s a bit of a late riser at this Asian-French bar. The crowds flock for late-night drinks, perhaps because they’re all busy CBD execs who love work… and a good stiff drink after. We dig the bar’s signature woody scent, the plush custom-made furniture and most of all, the lively barbacks slinging creations like Screaming Tomatoes. Oh, and if you’re peckish, you can’t go wrong with PEP’s sliders and samosas.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Bar for Drinking Food

Let’s face it, everyone’s been here cos it’s swanky, cool and ticks all the right boxes for bar-hopping street cred. The bartenders (nudge, Ricky) are pretty good at convincing you to have “just one more”, so it’s no wonder why the food’s equally punchy. Chef Nick Trosien knows exactly what to proffer hungry, boozy bellies with lobster rolls, house-made kettle chips with foie gras and onions and the addictive NYC hot dogs. 

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Club

After a series of high-profile closures, it’s a relief that clubs are still opening. This one’s the right amounts of glitzy, glam and slightly douche-y: the key ingredients to a good night out. Plus, it’s perched on the 61st floor with killer views of the bay–perfect for Champagne popping.

Best Pop-Up

Um… seven floors of booze? Yes, please. The Ate Group went all out for their anniversary by basically transforming an entire warehouse building into a food-art-shopping-DRINKING extravaganza. Each floor had a different theme and cocktails from places like 28 Hongkong Street, L’Aiglon and Potatohead Folk went for $8-16. Plus, they had the coolest after-party complete with Franken-art, booze and DJ collectives.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Secret Bar That Isn’t A Secret At All

The Secret Mermaid
It seems like Howard Lo has been on a bit of a mission in 2014. The man has opened up Tanuki Raw, expanded Shinkansen and brought this MRT underpass bar specializing in American craft spirits and classic cocktails. It’s not meant to be a hidden find; it’s just coincidentally located in the hardest, most maze-like underpass in all of Singapore.

Best New Bar to Be A Woman In

Sofitel So’s rooftop pool bar was crafted for the ladies. With timber decking, breezy St. Tropez-esque cabanas and a shimmering gold pool, you couldn’t ask for something more decadently lady-like. Wednesday nights here get a little raucous as a hot DJ blares out downtempo tunes and Champagne by the glass go for $10. Did we mention it was Ruinart?

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Rooftop Bar

Props to this bar capitalizing on the lack of rooftop bars in Boat Quay. Who would have thought that among the sports bars and pubs, there would be this classy gem? The oysters are cheap and fresh, the booze decent. Word of advice: stick to the bottled stuff like wines and bubblies and you’ll be having a ball.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Bar To Be A Poseur

Potato Head Folk
The hot Bali transplant opened to much fanfare, which automatically made it the place to see and be seen even if you don’t drink all that much. It helps that the decor is kitschy and artsy, perfect for Instagram photos. Here, all the pretty young things mingle, sip and flirt, blithely forgetting that, at the end of the day, it really just is a burger joint.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Bar That’s Really A Restaurant

It looks like a trendy bar the minute you step in but it’s actually a grill. This is one place where the food and the drinks are equally delish; a balance that’s often hard to find. The rum bar under the deft hands of Aki Eguchi shines, while the grill under Chef Polo pushes out perfectly charred dishes. It’s laidback, if a little too loud on weekends, but that’s all part of the fun. 

Best Trend We Want To End

Barrel-aged cocktails
It had its moment of oaky glory but when everyone started doing it, there are too many things that could go wrong. Barrel aging cocktails is a hard science to master with all sorts of temperature fluctuations and different wood temperaments in a humid climate. There’s a reason wood-barrelled wines are only aged in temperate climates. Besides, we’re over it.

Best New Bar in a Mall

Singapore’s not the type of place to open a cocktail bar in malls, just yet. Cue The Horse’s Mouth and Kuvo and we might see a new trend emerging. This place feels like an all-day dining restaurant but their cocktail bar is still pretty cozy. 

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Interior

Operation Dagger
3,000 lightbulbs and counting. This subterranean bar was painstakingly put together by Luke Whearty and team to great effect. The rest of the place is kept bare but the huge crawling centerpiece does the space justice. Just don’t go if you have a tyrpophobia (the fear of clustered holes).

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best Cocktails Under $20

​Probably one of the most important categories in this increasingly expensive city. Cocktail mastermind Dario Nocentini (formerly of Catalunya) does the cost and cocktails justice. So what if you’re just stopping by to get your fill of “cheap” cocktails while everyone around you is eating? Because who can resist cocktails named El Vermouth de Dali ($15.50) with bourbon, chocolate, Aperol and homemade vermouth bitters. Skip the tapas and get your fill of tipples, we say.

Best New Wine Specialists

Vida Vino
For starters, it’s on Keong Saik Road, which automatically ups its cool factor. This Spanish tapas and wine bar has a complex list of wines that are sensibly available by the glass. We also love the fact that bottles start at a comfortable $58 and that descriptions don’t take wines too seriously, just be prepared to be a little confused.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best Outrageously Priced Cocktails

If we could trade our liver in the black market to sustain a lifetime of cocktails here, we probably would say yes. Although the Ginza-style bar is uppity and stiff, there’s no shadow of a doubt that they make solid drinks. It has some of the best Old Fashioneds in town, but with a minimum spend of $60 (just be warned, they don’t tell you right off the cuff) count that night out as an investment. Plus, $60 only really gets you two drinks here.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Beer Bar

Nickeldime Drafthouse
​Between the ever-changing taps of craft beer and takeaway growlers, we can’t decide what we like more. Not only is it hard to fine craft beer on tap, it’s even rarer to find 15 of them with names like Stone, Anderson Valley, Buxton Brewing and Lost Coast. If ever you feel lazy, just get a takeaway growler (all 2L. of it), pick a beer and consume in your PJs.

Best New Bar Snack

Truffle veal cheek baos from Anti:dote
Too bad we only had to pick one item because we would have willingly picked the entire menu at this hotel bar. Chef Carlos Montobbio isn’t afraid to experiment and take risks (it’s no wonder, with training from Spain’s El Celler de can Roca) and this one pays off. It’s decadent, fluffy and oh-so-tender with earthy aromas mingling with meaty goodness, caramelized onions in Madeira and foie gras., The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best Boozy Food Pairing

Corner House
You can’t go wrong with classics, just be prepared to pay the price. Located in the middle of the Botanic Gardens, this place is luxe and lush. While the Discovery menu is terrific, opt for the four-course option ($98) and share the dishes among yourselves. The wine list is a treasure trove of over 600 bottles, so it’s best to pick the sommelier’s brain when it comes to wine pairings. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

, The Singapore Booze Awards 2014

Best New Live Music

Bob’s Bar
We would’ve picked something a little cooler, but this place does jazzy standards justice. Although, it’s a bit of trek to get to Sentosa’s Capella Hotel, once you do, it’s breezy and easy. There are tons of plush armchairs, loungers and stools so get a fresh-pressed mojito and let soul crooner Jeremy Monteiro and his Latin jazz band take you to Cuba and Brazil.