Drinking and nightlife in Asia

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Chinatown & the CBD

    Employees Only

    This outpost of the famous New York cocktail bar of the same name has brought a slice of big city buzz to Singapore, along with a dazzling array of innovative drinks. Some of the sting from the eye-watering prices is soothed by the free-pour mixing method; lightweights may be knocked from their perch. A neon 'psychic' sign marks the entrance. It's open for lunch and the modern American eats are worth sampling if you're hungry.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Little India & Kampong Glam

    Atlas

    Straight out of 1920s Manhattan, this cocktail lounge is an art deco–inspired extravaganza, adorned with ornate bronze ceilings and low-lit plush lounge seating. The drinks menu is filled with decadent champagnes, curated cocktails and some mean martinis. However, it's the 12m-high gin wall, displaying over 1000 labels, that really makes a statement – make sure you ask for a tour. Night-time bookings are essential; however, if you arrive before 5pm, you should still be able to nab a table. Doors open in the morning for coffees, and European-inspired bites are served throughout the day and well into the night. The afternoon tea (3pm to 5pm, from S$56) is also worth stopping in for. Dress to impress; no shorts or slippers after 5pm.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Kuala Lumpur

    Suzie Wong

    Push aside the heavy curtain at the end of a clubby bar to discover the wild goings-on at this old Hong Kong–style speakeasy cocktail bar. Expect a glamorous drag cabaret, live music and handheld fireworks to accompany the popping of champagne corks and swilling of drinks in carved-out coconuts. If you're lucky enough to find a seat, be aware that there will be a hefty minimum table charge on Friday and Saturday nights. The noodle stall just outside the main entrance is another fun touch for a pre- or post-party supper.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Singapore

    Manhattan

    Step back in time to the golden age of fine drinking at this handsome Mad Men –esque bar, where long-forgotten cocktails come back to life. Grouped by eras of New York, the drinks menu is ever changing; however, waistcoated bartenders are only too happy to guide you. Sunday brings freshly shucked oysters, and an adults-only cocktail brunch (S$150) with make your own bloody Marys. Number 1 on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017/18 list, this is not one to miss.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Wan Chai & Northeast Hong Kong Island

    Second Draft

    Tall windows wrap around a magisterial sweep of wooden bar at this Tai Hang neighbourhood gastropub, the sort of civilised joint where everybody knows everybody. A curated line-up of local beers favours the faultless Young Master brewery (450ml pours around HK$80), or go for an organic wine, paired with creative nibbles such as edamame with crispy chicken skin. On weekends, it's also a breezy spot to stop by for lunch or single-origin coffee.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Dongdaemun & Eastern Seoul

    Daelim Changgo

    Hands down the most stunning converted changgo (warehouse) venue in 'Seoul's Brooklyn', Daelim Changgo is the ultimate synthesis of Seoul's obsessions for cafes, design, art and selfies. Choose from single-origin coffee, draught beers and wood-fired pizza and find a spot in either of two cavernous former workshops to sit and marvel at the funky wall art, sculptures, and interior garden complete with buzzing neon flowers.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hong Kong

    Quinary

    Consistently voted one of the world's top 50 bars, Quinary is a sleek, moodily lit cocktail bar that attracts a well-dressed crowd. Its gifted mixologists create homemade infusions of spirits and the Asian-inspired cocktails are delicious, theatrical marvels. Signature creations include the Quinary Sour (whisky, homemade liquorice syrup and bonito flakes) and the Instagram-killing Earl Grey Caviar Martini with whipped air.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Chinatown & the CBD

    Operation Dagger

    From the cloud-like light sculpture to the boundary-pushing cocktails, extraordinary is the keyword here. To encourage experimentation, libations are described by flavour, not spirit, the latter shelved in uniform, apothecary-like bottles. Sample the garlic-infused Free 6lack, or the textural surprise of the Hot & Cold. Head up the hill where Club St and Ann Siang Hill meet; a symbol shows the way.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Colonial District, the Quays & Marina Bay

    28 HongKong Street

    Softly lit 28HKS plays hide-and-seek inside an unmarked 1960s shophouse. Slip inside and into a slinky scene of cosy booths and passionate mixologists turning grog into greatness. Cocktails are seamless and sublime, but note the large pours as they can send you flying. House-barrelled classics, hard-to-find beers and lip-smacking grub seal the deal. Email findus@28hks.com for reservations.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Gangnam & Southern Seoul

    Club Octagon

    Voted number seven in the world's top clubs by DJ Mag in 2018, Octagon is one of Gangnam's best for serious clubbers. High-profile resident and guest DJs spin house, trap, hip-hop and techno in a warehouse-sized space over its powerful Funktion 1 sound system to an appreciative crowd here to party till dawn.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in New Delhi

    1911

    The Imperial, built in the 1930s, resonates with bygone splendour. This bar is a more recent addition, but still riffs on the Raj. Here you can sip the perfect cocktail (₹1000) amid designer-clad clientele, against a backdrop of faded photos and murals of maharajas.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in South Delhi

    Piano Man Jazz Club

    The real thing, this popular, atmospheric place with proper musos is a dim-lit speakeasy with some excellent live jazz performances.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hong Kong

    Old Man

    If Ernest Hemingway was still alive today, the chances are he’d love this tiny no-sign speakeasy named after his novel The Old Man and the Sea with a neo-cubist portrait of Papa himself looking down approvingly from behind the bar. The atmosphere is friendly rather than pretentious and the mixology is exceptionally creative, with elements like gruyere, sous-vide pandan leaves and nori dust (cocktails HK$100). Try to get a seat at the communal table in front of the intimate bar to see the bartenders work their magic: the strip down the middle is iced, to keep your drinks cool. The entrance isn't advertised – look for the steps heading down into a dead-end alleyway off Aberdeen St.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Chinatown & the CBD

    Native

    This hidden bar in hotspot-heavy Amoy St is the brainchild of bartender extraordinaire Vijay Mudaliar – formerly of Operation Dagger – and his concoctions have everyone talking. With spirits sourced from around the region – such as Thai rum and Sri Lankan arak – paired with locally foraged ingredients, expect the unexpected and be prepared to be wowed. The Peranakan, a modern take on the Nonya dessert kueh salat made with jackfruit rum, laksa leaves, candlenut and pandan, is the draw card here; however, the sweet and spiced Pineapple Arrack follows closely behind.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Kuala Lumpur

    Three Little Birds

    Top-tier coffee bar and micro-roaster Three Little Birds is manned by the pioneers of third-wave coffee culture in KL: Michael Wilson and wife Amirah Mohammad of Artisan Roast, as well as coffee geek Joey Mah. The trio takes a focused approach to roasting, catering to drinkers who are not only here for a quality cuppa but also a serious education on coffee. The cafe mostly uses beans from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Kenya for their coffee, and single-origin chocolate from Papua New Guinea for their chocolate drinks.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Harajuku & Aoyama

    Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience

    Tea master (and former bartender) Sakurai Shinya's contemporary teahouse is a must-visit for anyone hoping to deeper their understanding of o-cha (Japanese tea). The course includes several varieties – you might be surprised how different tea can taste – paired with small bites, including some beautiful traditional sweets. Come in the evening (¥500 cover charge after 7pm) for tea cocktails. Reservations recommended. Purchase loose tea and beautiful teapots and cups at the attached shop (open until 8pm)

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Chinatown & the CBD

    Tippling Club

    Tippling Club propels mixology to dizzying heights, with a technique and creativity that could turn a teetotaller into a born-again soak. Sample the Dreams & Desires menu before ordering by chewing your way through alcohol-infused gummy bears, which give a hint of what's to come. Our pick is the champagne-based Beauty, served with a cherry sorbet lipstick. The best seats are at the bar, under a ceiling of hanging bottles. The adjoining restaurant is highly regarded, though painfully priced.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Singapore

    Other Room

    You'll find this hidden drinking house, a throwback to a bygone era, behind a secret door in the Singapore Marriott lobby – ring the doorbell for entry. Peruse the 50-page drinks menu and settle in for a night to remember. Award-winning mixologist Dario Knox takes spirits seriously; the American oak-barrel-aged spirits in different finishings are where to begin. Night owls will rejoice at the late closing time by Singapore standards.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Beijing

    Bear Brew

    Run by two affable, aproned Chinese bears (who speak excellent English), this gay-friendly hutong hangout pours a host of house creations such as a 24-hour cold brew with Coke, a ‘dirty’ (espresso shot dumped on iced milk) and the usual range of espresso and pour-over coffees. The rooftop terrace, with its poetry-inspiring views of the White Dagoba Temple, is glorious on a sunny afternoon.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Bangkok

    Moon Bar

    An alarmingly short barrier at this rooftop bar is all that separates patrons from the street, 61 floors down. Moon Bar claims to be among the highest alfresco bars in the world. It's a great place to meet, greet and generally hang out with friends old and new. The hoppy house beer, called Banyan Tree IPA, is a must-try. Save your shorts and sandals for another locale.