A stylish bar specializing in cocktails made from Asian spirits and foraged produce.
The buzz: Getting a lot of attention for a signature cocktail involving ants, Native is a cool new bar tucked away on a second floor space on Amoy Street, with a focus not on exhaustive inventories of fancy craft spirits, but rather individually sourced sakes, whiskies, gins and arracks from around South, Southeast and East Asia, a long list of locally foraged ingredients (betel leaves, curry leaves, starfruit flowers, etc) and some inventive mixology.
The vibe: Located up some dark stairs next to Wanton, Seng's Noodle Bar, this two-storey space has a carefully considered speakeasy thing going on: exposed brick behind the bar, hanging lamps and the sort. But there are lots of elegant touches on top of that. Like the spirits, the decor is sourced locally and regionally, too: candles by Singaporean Candles of Light, graffiti by Singaporean artist Rajesh Kumar and ceramics by Ummuramics.
The drinks: At the helm is former Operation Dagger man Vijay Mudaliar, and other than his baffling tendency to want to be called The Chieftain (um, what?), he has a lot going for him, not least of which are his stool-tipping good looks. He's also something of a regional booze fiend. He won the 2015 Singapore leg of the Diplomatico World Tournament with a cocktail inspired by the Japanese occupation of Singapore. His list of signatures is short and focused, with base spirits like Thailand's Chalong Bay rum and Singapore's Paper Lantern Sichuan Pepper Gin. Everyone is talking about Antz ($23), a Brazilian-Thai mash-up involving Thai rum, aged sugarcane, coconut yogurt and other tropical things including, yes, ants. We love its milky, pleasantly grainy texture, and the whole thing is a lot less intimidating than it sounds. Slightly more predictable, though also very potent, is the Pineapple Arrack ($22) with Ceylon Arrack, nearly every bit of the coconut (oil, water, husk) and spices, topped with a piece of pineapple covered in Sri Lankan cinnamon.
Why you'll be back: You'll be hard-pressed to find cocktails like these elsewhere, and the price point hovers well below the $25 mark. The boys are adorable, and it's a respite from the crazy end of Amoy Street.