The Magic of Singapore

by Lawrence Ferber
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

As with every time I've visited this cultural and religious melting pot city-state, known affectionately as the "little red dot," the topic of penal code section 377A arises.

Lawrence Ferber

Opened in 2015, Dorothy’s (13A Trengganu St. Tel: +65 6221 6806. dorothysbar.com), and its upstairs balcony still boasts a lovely view of Chinatown. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary in 2020, Lluvia (145 Telok Ayer St. www.facebook.com/Lluvia-141966859205297) brings in the bears, cubs, and chasers (and friends) for karaoke fun, flirting, and drinks. Party promoters Hypertainment (www.facebook.com/hyper.com.sg), meanwhile, throw circuit-style events throughout the year at various nightclubs, which are listed on their Facebook page.

Flavours Bar Singapore

Photo: Home of the Blue Spin

During this trip, I became captivated by the local craft cocktail scene, which is so dynamic that other Southeast Asian countries’ bars, restaurants, and hotels are enlisting its mixologists and owners as consultants. Although Singapore’s taxes on alcohol are insanely high (a bottle of Tanglin Mandarin Chili Gin, from the country’s first craft gin distillery, runs $80, while mixed drinks often ring in at $20 or more) the cocktail culture is world class, with a whopping 11 venues featured on 2019’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

Two musts: the three-year-old Native (52A Amoy St. Tel: +65 8869 6520. tribenative.com), which crafts sense-of-place libations with Singapore- centric ingredients (turmeric, dragon fruit, pandan leaf) combined with foraged exotica like ants (yes, ants), while the Bugis’ neighborhood’s two-year-old Atlas (600 North Bridge Rd. Tel: +65 6396 4466. www.atlasbar.sg) entails a sprawling, art deco fever dream come to life, with 1,000+ gin bottles filling its eye-popping, gilded 15- meter-tall Gin Tower (locals can join its Juniper Society for special gin-driven events).

May Wong's Cafe Singapore

Photo: Home of the Blue Spin

Gin lovers should also visit local distillery Brass Lion (40 Alexandra Terrace. Tel: +65 6954 0602. www.brassliondistillery.com), which opened in 2018 and offers a 45-minute tour on weekends, inclusive of a three-gin tasting flight. While bottle-seekers can save a bundle when buying booze at Changi airport’s Duty Free, they’re typically sold out, so you might want to plunk down here and chomp on a wooden stick to help with the tax sting.

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