The Singapore Sling is no longer the only thing that the Republic is known for in the global bartending arena. The island is shaping up to be the new cocktail capital of South-east Asia, with a vibrant bar scene that can easily rival those of London and New York.
However, Singapore now offers a diverse collection of bars, making it more interesting for consumers and a melting pot for innovation.
Chua says: “In the past two years, the scene has blossomed. You can find every kind of bar here – the speakeasy, the local bar, the European kind, the American kind, whisky bars – we have them all.”
Indeed, Singapore has come a long way since the first bespoke cocktail bar – the now-defunct Klee at Portsdown Road – opened in 2008. The bar, of which nightlife operator Timbre Group was the majority shareholder, was a speciality cocktail bar that offered no menu. Drinks were tailored to the customer’s fancy, using only premium spirits and fresh fruit.
Its arrival was a breath of fresh air in a scene dominated by nightclubs and pubs, which offered mainly basic housepours using common spirits.”
“Kino has left Bar Stories earlier this month to work on a new project, Hopscotch, a pop-up cocktail bar set to open next month at the Red Dot Museum.
Soh, who prides herself on using fresh fruit and local ingredients that reflect Singapore culture in her tipples, says Hopscotch will offer a dose of nostalgia that will remind Singaporean customers of their childhood days.
Her drinks will feature sweets popular with children here in the 1980s, such as multi-coloured mini cup jellies sold at neighbourhood mini-marts, and kueh bangkit.
A modern take on the classic Singapore Sling is also something she wants to work on.
Soh, who is single, says: “We’re not pioneers of cocktails like New Orleans but if we do it long enough, we can have our own style and identity too.”