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Best Singapore rooftop bars
The boom in Singapore’s rooftop bars has tipplers elevator-hopping to drink, and drink in the view
Never mind Singapore’s heat and humidity or the risk of heavy downpours, the recent boom of rooftop bars has tipplers and teetotalers eager to risk the weather to drink in the view: pink and orange sunsets over a sea of skyscrapers, the day winding down in busy Chinatown, night lights and laser beams painting shapes and figures in the sky.
Here are the best al fresco spots to enjoy Singapore’s spectacular skyline.
Hands-down, 1-Altitude has the most comprehensive view of the city.
At 282 meters above sea level atop the OUB Building, this world’s highest al fresco bar has an unobstructed view of the city from the heart of the financial district.
When it rains and when winds pick up, this entirely open-air space furnished with day eds and colorfully-lit chairs is closed for safety reasons, so check the weather before heading over.
What to drink: Chocolate Sidecar (cognac, lemon juice and creme de cacao), S$16
OUB Building, 1 Raffles Place; +65 6438 0410; www.1-altitude.com
Sitting atop the 1924 art deco corner shophouse that is The Scarlet boutique hotel is this fourth-floor bar and restaurant frequented by yuppies drawn to romantic enclaves.
And no wonder, this rooftop overlooking Chinatown’s red tiled roofs is a largely private, turned-down space with daybed coves and tables shaded by trees speckled with warm Christmas lights.
The Mediterranean-influenced menu also caters to the amorous; an oyster platter for two, Champagne and grilled meat; it’s all been thought out.
If things get too hot, couples won’t have to leave this sanctuary, they can just head downstairs and get a room.
What to drink: Golden Passion (Passion fruit juice, peach schnapps, Absolut Mandarin), S$16
33 Erskine Road; +65 6511 3326; www.thescarlethotel.com
Halo Rooftop Lounge
This semi-circular space’s metallic façade and slate-colored tiles add some military style to the sunny yellow-lit bar with orange stools.
Army buffs will like this seventh-story observation deck at Wangz Hotel: this outdoor watchtower space is not just airy, it also has bird’s-eye view of the surrounding residential flats.
Halo’s Tiong Bahru location may mean it’s a little removed from the hustle of downtown and the bustle of the business district, but come Sports Night the atmosphere is as good as any other.
Go during happy hour (Monday-Saturday: 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Sunday: all day) when it’s two-for-one wines, draught beers and house pours.
What to drink: Chocolate’s Dreaming (rum, Kahlua, Bailey’s, chocolate syrup, milk, whipped cream), S$16
231 Outram Road; +65 6595 1388; www.wangzhotel.com
You can’t really land a chopper on this massive roof -- the "H" is made of decorative light boxes that double up as seats -- but don’t sweat it.
If you wanted your ’do messed up and your grooves stifled by throngs of people, you would have been partying on the other side of the river, at Clarke Quay central.
Instead, you get to raise your unobstructed elbows with Helipad Iced Teas and sway to the gentle Singapore River breeze.
If you arrive earlier on weekdays (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), beers and house pour spirits are S$5++ per glass, and wines are two-for-one. Now that would definitely make for a nice landing.
What to drink: Helipad Iced Tea (Bacardi 151, Blue Curacao, lime juice), S$18
#05-22 Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen St. +65 6327 8118; www.helipad.com.sg
Kinki Rooftop Bar
After more than a year since this colorful graffiti-slicked Japanese restaurant’s opening, its rooftop space is finally open.
Step past the red lanterns at the entrance into an equally vibrant post-nine-to-five world of cocktails with distinctly Nipponese twists –- umeshu, pickled plums and yuzu sake count as typical ingredients alongside vodka, rum and liqueurs.
Dishes like sushi, temaki and okonomiyaki topped with smoked bacon make for good finger food, while enjoying the cool catchment breeze of Marina Bay and the surrounding business district skyline.
What to drink: Spicy Hachimitshu (vodka, honey umeshu, wasabi gomme, fresh lemon, Japanese cucumber), S$16
#02-02 Customs House, 70 Collyer Quay; +65 6533 3471; www.kinki.com.sg
KU DE TA
Singapore’s youngest architectural icon, Marina Bay Sands (MBS), is the only structure standing 200 meters high in its immediate vicinity.
This means KU DE TA, its party bar, has spectacular views into the city and out over the waters that hug our tiny isle, and of Marina Bay Sands' infamous infinity pool.
Arrive at sunset to reap the full experience, it’s a transition from sharp to gleaming views with a breathtaking sunset.
If you're unable to tear yourself away from the fancy night lights, stave off hunger pangs with the platter of five wagyu mini burgers and the chopped tuna tartare and flatbread while enjoying the nightly laser show.
What to drink: Lady Be Mine (Martini with lychee, rose water and apple juice), S$20
Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, 1 Bayfront Ave. +65 6688 7688; www.kudeta.com.sg
La Terraza Rooftop Bar
This fifth-floor roof space is extremely limited so make sure you call ahead to reserve as many of their seats as you can.
You’ll still be rubbing sweaty shoulders with the largely expat community who regularly hold private events at La Terraza, but that is part of the squeezy space’s charm -- at some point, even the most introverted member of the group will have to speak.
Of course, the well-mixed selection of international drinks and draft Hoegaarden will help lubricate conversations.
What to drink: Mojito, S$17.70
Roof, The Screening Room, 12 Ann Siang Road; +65 6221 1694; www.screeningroom.com.sg
The fifth floor of The Fullerton Bay Hotel won't give anyone vertigo, but what Lantern lacks in altitude it makes up in finesse.
It's sexy with a Mediterranean flair; slinky with a five-meter-long bar counter; and splashy with a gorgeous mosaic pool as a centerpiece and tucked-away skyline facing whirlpools for private midnight dips.
What to drink: Red Lantern, S$24 (a Don Julio Tequila concoction with watermelon, cucumber, lime and a splash of cointreau.)
The Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay Road; +65 6597 5299; www.fullertonbayhotel.com
Unlike its poised queenly neighbor, The Raffles Hotel, Loof is eccentric and, apart from its caged trees, close to being flagrantly wild.
This third-story nook nestled among office buildings is where creative types -- and suppressed creative types -- go to kick back on low leather loungers of all forms and sizes.
When crowded, this 150-seat space can get a little stuffy. We blame the clear plastic tarp shelter for the lack of ventilation, but hey, that solves the rain dilemma.
While no one will fault you for bringing your own fan, you’d likely not need it, as the variety of martinis that Loof is known to serve should cool you down considerably.
What to drink: Krispy Clean Cucumber Martini, S$16
331 North Bridge Road; +65 6338 8035; www.loof.com.sg
Officially, this 10th-story rooftop bar with the sparkly close views of Raffles City and The Esplanade over its infinity pool is open only to the hotel’s guests occupying one of their 40 rooms.
But the general lack of service staff stationed up here means commoners like us can slip in unnoticed.
Fingers crossed then, that you get to this cozy timber-paneled al fresco roof early enough to snag one of the few Dedon love seats or the leaf-shaped sunbeds –- the stools at the bar, as you can expect, will do your wagon adventures no good.
Our advice: keep to your sneaky selves and BYO standard drinks from the bar on the ground floor. There isn’t a large selection of cocktails, but really, you’re here for the adrenalin.
What to drink: Mojito, S$16
41 Seah St. +65 6403 6000; www.naumihotel.com
Bar manager Akihiro Eguchi came out tops in this year’s Diageo Reserve World Class 2011 Singapore National finals with his Crown Jewel concoction: freshly distilled rosewater, pomegranate juice, simple sugar syrup and Tanqueray No. 10 gin.
Making a special request that he recreate this cocktail shouldn’t be the only reason to take a couple of nips here. Located among the shiny thorn-like caps of the Esplanade, it is the perfect vantage point to take in the ever-changing Singapore skyline, has a nice angle of the Merlion, as well as fireworks on red-letter days.
During competition off-seasons, strapping martinis made with fresh ingredients are the specialities of Orgo’s herd of Japanese mixologists.
What to drink: Pomelo & Basil Martini, S$18
#04-01 Esplanade-Theaters on the Bay, Roof Terrace, 8 Raffles Ave. +65 6336 9366; www.orgo.sg
It’s a good thing Prelude has its back against the bustle. This open-air minimalist bar at the mouth of the Singapore River is unruffled by the CBD's surrounding pomp.
Not that this is an entirely dress-down spot, as relaxed CBD sophisticates make up most of this dark-wood and canvas deck-chaired space’s clientele.
The lush potted foliage and laidback playlist stays close to the buoyant atmosphere, and the comfortable yet cultivated offering of the Japanese Baird Brewing Company artisan craft beer vindicates your undoing that top collar button.
Shame it’s not open on Sunday.
What to drink: Merlion Punch (passion fruit, white peach puree, pineapple juice, vodka), S$15
Rooftop, The Waterboat House, 3 Fullerton Road; +65 6538 9038; www.boathouse.com.sg
Ta.Ke at Studio M
This is no place for a quiet cocktail.
The expansive bamboo-themed cocktail bar that shares its 150-seat space with a sundeck with private cabanas, lap pool and gym and is filled with conversation-starter furniture pieces, so expect much to chat about.
Anyone stuck for a topic can start with the gaudy armchairs and work their way to the spindly dollhouse stools. French-influenced tapas and Japanese-inspired cocktails make up the menu.
What to drink: Choya C (rosehip tea with choya, sugar and lemon juice), S$15
3 Nanson Road; +65 6808 8888; www.studiomhotel.com/take
It’s a lounge, it’s a club, it’s a bar.
Roosted on top of boutique hotel The Club, this three-in-one Ann Siang Hill space has views out onto the buildings of Chinatown.
It is as swish as you would expect it to be, with a separate side entrance, resort-style umbrella coves and swish vibrant interior design. The pre-club older-yuppie clientele jigs to the classic/rare/broken/minimal/tech grooves of resident DJs Brendon P (formerly Zouk), Ramesh K (Centro) and Jean-Baptiste.
The only downside: climbing up (and later down) three flights of stairs to get to the bar.
What to drink: Confucius says Beauty (Absolut Vanilla, crème de cacao, frangelico, butterscotch, Chocolate syrup, milk), S$16
28 Ann Siang Hill; +65 6808 2188; www.yingyang.sg
Zsofi Tapas Bar
This Dunlop Street stalwart’s rooftop area straddles two shophouse spaces, both of different elevations.
That is hardly a problem. Sitting up here is much like sitting on the private roof of a house overlooking the Mediterranean, except the view here comprises of surrounding aluminium roofing and tiles.
Ever the gentle and responsible bar, Zsofi offers a free portion of tapas off its dozen-strong, mainly vegetarian menu, with every alcoholic drink, so you won’t be partying on an empty stomach.
What to drink: Any of the draft, bottled beers or sangria –- it’s the free tapas per drink that you’re here for.
68 Dunlop St. +65 6297 5875; www.tapasbar.com.sg