Five Singapore bars with character
8.30pm. It’s a full house at 57 Chevy, where middle-aged minxes line dance to a live band belting out ’60s classics and bringing the crowd to its feet with Tom Jones covers. Despite the bar's location on one of Singapore's seedier streets, there are no working girls inside. “We had three generations of family come in: grandparents, parents, and kids. It’s a place where everyone knows each other, so you’re never really alone," says Leonard, owner and musician.
86 East Coast Road Singapore. Tel: +65 6348 4854.
Drinkers flock to this modest wooden shack, situated in the middle of a leafy artist commune, for cooked liver, chips, and UK beer (Old Speckled Hen, anyone?). We like its place in history—it was a canteen for British soldiers in 1953—and its décor of rough blue walls topped by a signboard rescued from 1950s. Photos from the era document the bar’s heritage, while an ancient weighing counter stands at attenshun inside the entrance. “It feels old, and calm. In fact, sitting at rickety plastic tables and having a beer amongst the foliage while the sun goes down is strangely therapeutic,” muses Edwin Tam, patron.
9A Whitchurch Road, Wessex Estate. Tel: +65 6779 4859.
Night & Day
Step through the glass door, up a steep flight of stairs and into a dimly-lit part-time gallery/performance space filled with high-backed wooden benches, designer sofas, black and white wall art and a caged well. The doodles on the walls and ceiling are organic, scrawled by local artists (the bar's regulars) who gather for NIght & Day’s live experimental music and jazz sets. And just in case you feel spontaneously compelled to put pen to wall, check with the staff; your artwork must meet certain standards or you'll be denied creative expression. “All the new bars are starting to look alike and they can be anywhere in the world. We wanted a place that is authentically old and authentically Singapore and this place is just perfect,” shares Kiew, bar manager.
139 A/C Selegie Road. Tel: +65 6884 5523
It’s like any other pub… in Thailand, with roving Thai women in skimpy get-ups and a stage on which bands take turns performing pop songs from the Land of Smiles. The fun really begins when a popular Thai tune floods the mics, moving everyone to sing their hearts out to it. “It's cool to be in a place in your own city where people mostly speak a foreign language. There are girls who’ll give some wilder fun, but at the same time, it's not so wild that you can’t bring wifey, daddy, and mummy," says regular Chong Yi Chern.
#02-85/92 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Road. Tel: +65 6295 1611
It's hard to believe that Little Bali was cobbled together from an army-owned squash court and a landfill. After some serious landscaping, the owners sculpted a Balinese temple amid lush foliage, adding embellishments like flowing streams, thatched huts and pavillions artfully garnished by Tiki torches and carved wooden statues. This is the closest you’re going to get to Bali in the Little Red Dot. Head there at sunset to appreciate the full romantic atmosphere—just remember to bring mosquito repellent. Owner Robin Greatbach explains, "We built this to experience nature in association with a place—Bali—that is rich in arts, culture and heritage, which is expressed by the Balinese through their daily living.”
Where: 9A Lock Road, Gillman Village. Tel: +65 6473 6763