You’ll find many of Singapore’s hottest bars in Chinatown, especially on Club St and Ann Siang Rd, Duxton Hill, and up-and-coming Keong Saik Rd. Chinatown’s Neil Rd is home to a handful of swinging gay venues. Other popular drinking spots include bohemian-spirited Kampong Glam, heritage-listed Emerald Hill Rd (just off Orchard Rd), leafy expat enclave Dempsey, and hyper-touristy Boat and Clarke Quays.
Bars generally open around 5pm until at least midnight Sunday to Thursday, and through to 2am or 3am on Friday and Saturday.
Cocktails Bars & Lounges
Forget the sling. From the sesame-infused complexity of the 'gomashio' at Operation Dagger, to the nature infused ever-changing concoctions at Native, Singapore's new breed of cocktail bars are shaking and stirring bold and thrilling libations. Locavore tendencies shine through in the likes of Jekyll & Hyde's Mr Bean (vodka, Lao Ban bean curd and kaya), while the meticulous dating of drinks at speakeasy 28 HongKong Sreet is testament to a deepening reverence for the history and craft of cocktail making.
Pubs & Microbreweries
Singapore's beer scene is coming of age, with more bars, cafes and restaurants jumping on the craft-brew bandwagon. Even Chinatown Complex is in on the act, home to Singapore’s first hawker-centre craft-beer stalls, the Good Beer Company and Smith Street Taps. In stock is Singapore's own Brewlander & Co beer (www.brewlander.com) which gives Belgian brews a run for their money. It's not the only microbrewery in town either, with brewery-bar hybrids Little Creatures, Alchemist Beer Lab, Level 33 and Little Island Brewing Co. keeping things nuanced and local.
Cafes & Coffee Roasters
While old-school kopitiams (coffeeshops) have been serving kopi (coffee) for generations, Singapore's speciality coffee scene is a more recent phenomenon. Inspired by Australia's artisanal coffee culture, contemporary cafes such as Ronin, 40 Hands and Atlas Coffeehouse are brewing ethically sourced seasonal beans, using either espresso machines or 'third wave' brewing techniques such as Japanese siphons and AeroPress. Also on the increase are cafes sourcing and roasting their own beans, the best of which include Liberty Coffee, Chye Seng Huat Hardware and Nylon Coffee Roasters.
Zouk remains the city's best-known club, and its annual ZoukOut, a massive dance party held each December, attracts 40,000 revellers and A-list DJs. Hot spots include sky-high beat-pumping Altimate and shrine to hip-hop Fleek. Dance clubs proliferate around the Quays area, among them Attica and hidden, techno-pumping Headquarters by the Council. Beyond this, check out Super 0 (www.super0.sg), which runs top-notch pop-up dance parties, usually towards the end of the year. For updated listings, hit www.timeout.com/singapore/music-nightlife.
Deals & Discounts
Singapore is an expensive city to drink in; a fact not helped by a 25% alcohol tax hike in 2014. A beer at most city bars will set you back between S$10 and S$18, with cocktails commonly ringing in between S$20 and S$30.
That said, many bars offer decent happy-hour deals, typically stretching from around 5pm to 8pm, sometimes starting earlier and finishing later. Most deals offer two drinks for the price of one or cheaper 'house pours'. On Wednesday, 'ladies' night' promotions offer cheaper (sometimes free) drinks to women.
Of course, those who don't mind plastic tables and fluorescent lights can always hang out with the locals at hawker centres and coffeeshops, swilling S$7 bottles of Tiger Beer.
Need to Know
- Bars: 3pm to 1am or 3am
- Cafes: 10am to 7pm
- Clubs: 10pm to 3am or 5am
Unless you know someone at the door or get signed in by a member, at the hottest clubs you'll have to join the queue. You can avoid the cover charge for some bars and clubs if you go early.
Service Fees & GST
Regular bars add 17% to your bill: 10% for service charge, 7% for GST. You'll see this indicated by '++' on drink lists.