Edgy music goes hand-in-hand with drinking. The guys behind jazz-themed Cool Cats probably knows this, and have launched a cocktail programme with drinks inspired by different eras and figures in the development of jazz music — from its origins in ragtime, to names like Duke Ellington, and places key to the movement like Cafe Society. Highlights include Ways of a Diva, a spirit-forward creation of Mozart dry chocolate spirit, mezcal, and pear; and The Innovator, a drink inspired by the creative stylings of legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis that combines gin, maraschino, and vermouth with butterfly pea flowers and pandan. While jazz musicians of that era were known for diets that mostly consisted of steaks and ribs, Cool Cats offers a different kind of indulgence with Asian-ish treats like wasabi prawns and crispy duck roll; and for a right treat, vintage sturia caviar.
It’s rare to find a fully functional cocktail bar in a Chinese restaurant, even rarer to have one as well thought-out as Madame Fan Bar. Helmed by Davide Boncimino (ex-head bartender of The Other Room, and the winner of Singapore’s 2017 Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition), the bar features drinks that draw on Chinese — as befitting its location — and Asian flavours. Most of the cocktail components outside of the base spirits and liqueurs are made in-house, from infusions to syrups and a wide array of garnishes. Like the best examples of modern cocktails, drinks here are complex but not elaborate, with a focus on flavour. Highlights include something called the (Not) Classic PBJ, a riff on the flavour profile of peanut butter and jelly with peanut butter fat-washed Glenfiddich and the marmalade flavours of homemade caramelised kumquat liqueur. The latter ingredient is itself testament to Boncimino’s attention to detail — the pulp is removed to be cooked down until jammy, while the skin is infused separately to keep all the bright citrus flavours. The drink is then served with the cutest, dim sum-inspired basket of smoked, chocolate covered macadamias for a bonus side snack. Many drinks are also nods to the elements found in the main restaurant, including the Yu Cha, a Martinez-like drink prepared with gin, softly peated whisky, shiso vermouth, and the same slow-roasted Iron Goddess that they serve at Madame Fan.
For a Peranakan restaurant, Godmama’s got a pretty compelling cocktail programme. The newly-opened joint features an outdoor area that’s ideal for quaffing down one of their Nonya-inspired creations concocted by co-owner Christina Keilthy’s son. Highlights include a spin on an Old Fashioned, made with 5-year-old reserve Barbados rum, gula melaka, bitters, and smoked cinnamon. For a truly local tipple, head for the Peranakan Blue, which combines Singapore-produced Brass Lion gin with lavender, butterfly pea flower, and yuzu tonic for something refreshing and easy-drinking. Some of the drinks are also made for pairing with the robust flavours of the cuisine — like their Pacific Paradise, a pisco-based swizzle with fresh, herbal flavours of basil, yellow Chartreuse, and anise to stand up to all those Peranakan spices.
Opened by jazz pianist-turned-real estate broker Peter Ng; jazz lounge Maduro is the culmination of a life spent behind ivory keys and slinging property. It is equal parts nostalgia-tinged and yet timeless — both with its music and drinks programmes. Expect classic cocktails, shimmering bottles of scotch; and respectable, vintaged wine labels. The focus here though, is the music. Every Tuesday sees a younger, edgier sounds and performers; while Fridays — christened Tiara Club Fridays after Shangri-la’s legendary supper club — sees the who’s who of Jazz in Singapore and beyond taking the stage. It’s clear Ng has the rolodex to keep up with the heavily rotating cast of musicians — those that have performed so far include veteran chanteuse Alemay Fernandez, NYC-based jazz trumpeter Alex Sipiagin; and Peter Consigliere, longtime pianist on board the Eastern & Orient Express.
Up next is saxophonist Nicole Duffell, who will be playing Friday, 21 June.
In 1835, Joseph Balestier – the first US consul to Singapore – stayed in a bungalow, together with his wife and son, situated at where Stamford Road meets North Bridge Road. He started his own sugarcane plantation, and eventually, began to make and sell his own rum. Almost two whole centuries later, on the exact spot where the bungalow once stood, now stands The Bar at 15 Stamford. As a tribute to the Balestiers, this nineteenth century-themed bar boasts 160 labels of rum, from both Old and New worlds, as well as 250 labels of wine. The Plantation 1840 – one of their signature cocktails – is made from rum, vermouth, pineapple juice and sugarcane syrup, as a nod to Balestier who had both a sugarcane and a pineapple plantation.
Brimming with stories, the historic bar has more tales to tell — of the Revere bell, the sailor’s home that also stood in this spot. Otherwise, Friday and Saturday nights also welcome international DJs to the bar to end off a hectic work week with drinks and merrymaking.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel, 15 Stamford Road. Tel: 6715-6871.