Singapore: Multicultural Magic
Photo: © MO BAR AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL, SINGAPORE
ALTHOUGH SINGAPORE was not officially an independent republic until 1965, its history as a hub for international trade can be traced back to the Middle Ages because of its strategic location on the Melaka Straits. By the 19th century, when under British rule, it had evolved into an alluring destination appealing to affluent travelers.
At that time, the Raffles Hotel (reopening later this year after an extensive remodel) appealed to discerning globetrotters with its exclusive features like electric lights, powered ceiling fans and The Long Bar. The bar occupies a hallowed place in cocktail history as birthplace of the Singapore Sling, a fruity gin cocktail that invited women guests to join the previously men-only party. In September 2018 The Long Bar reopened with updated versions of the Sling and its other cocktail staples.
In the same spirit, bars at newer luxury hotels evoke the pleasures of jet-set travel. The Six Senses Maxwell and Duxton properties’ lounges tap into eclectic influences, from literary heavyweights to Chinese herbal medicine. The Mandarin Oriental, Singapore’s MO Bar built its menus around exotic Asian destinations, while InterContinental Singapore’s Idlewild celebrates the golden age of air travel. At The Capitol Kempinski Hotel, The Bar at 15 Stamford dedicates itself to the world’s finest rums, delivering complex signature cocktails and flights with chocolate pairings. LAVO, boasting postcard views of the city, sits atop the Marina Bay Sands — one of the city’s most recognizable buildings.
Neighborhood bar fans will find gems everywhere, from stately “shop house” districts to business towers and ethnic enclaves Kampong Glam and Chinatown (all LGBTQ+-friendly). While some are justifiably ranked on the World’s 50 Best Bars and Asia’s 50 Best Bars lists (28 HongKong Street, Tippling Club, Atlas), others are worth checking out for funky menus and wholly original décor (Employees Only, Jigger & Pony, The Old Man, Native).
Restaurants stirring Singapore’s rich ethnic melting pot also must be sampled. Candlenut, Folklore and The Coconut Club elevate dishes from Singapore’s diverse ethnic groups into unforgettable culinary experiences. Informal sit-down places Keng Eng Kee and Jumbo Seafood allow customers to dine like a local without hawker market crowds.
The most interesting fashion statement pieces to wear out on the town may be found at Design Orchard. The intimate emporium showcases fashion, jewelry, accessories, fragrances and, yes, cool stuff for the home bar and living room from up-andcoming designers. You can unearth other chic, one-off boutiques along Haji Lane in the Kampong Glam neighborhood.