Cocktail bars are perfect for first dates. For starters, there’s alcohol in the mix, which is a great way to calm those first-date jitters. Then there’s the warm lighting and background chatter to set the mood. And unlike dinner dates, which are usually at least a couple of hours long, cocktail bar dates can be as short or long as you want them to be. Getting on like a house on fire? Order another round of martinis. Zero chemistry? Get the bill and split.
But there are 5 cocktail bars in Singapore that we think are especially awesome for any kind of first date, whether it’s with a guy you met on Tinder or an old classmate who asked you out from out of the blue. On top of serving some of the best cocktails on the island, they’re intimate yet unfussy, making them perfect for that first date.
A good cocktail bar doesn’t just serve top-shelf tipples, but transports you to another world. Idlewild at the InterContinental takes this a little more literally than most, fashioning its interior after the glamour and luxury of first class air travel in the ’40s with dark wood and gold accents, dreamy mood lighting, and velvet, lots of velvet. The air travel theme extends to the drinks menu, which features 20 signature cocktails inspired by 10 cities along the popular Transatlantic Route: Dublin, Rome, Lima, Lisbon, New York, Casablanca, London, Paris, Mexico City and Havana.
Our pick? The French Cook, $26, a blend of French Gin, fresh lemon, chardonnay and lightly carbonated Chartreuse Genepi.
Tip: For a little more privacy, get a seat at one of the raised bay window booths. Oh, and there’s live jazz music on Wednesday to Saturday nights, if that’s your thing.
Idlewild is at InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road.
Like Idlewild, MO BAR is a classy hotel bar with a super stylish interior—think tastefully mismatched sofas surrounded by an array of modernist sculptures and paintings (even the ceiling, a grid of etched metal plates, is a sight to behold). It also has a travel-themed cocktail menu, but with a focus on the flavours and aromas of Asia.
The highlight from the 14-drink selection is Mother of Dragons, $26, a fruity mix of strawberry, aloe vera and cachaça (a kind of white rum from Brazil) that’s almost too pretty to drink.
Tip: If you’re there on a Wednesday night, you might want to opt for the free-flow Ruinart Champagne & New Zealand Pacific Oysters at $68++ for two hours. A bottle of Ruinart can easily set you back over $100 and, let’s be honest, two hours is more than enough for you and your date to polish off a bottle of champers.
MO Bar is at Level 4 Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Smoke & Mirrors
This is the most atas bar on this list, in more ways than one. Perched on the rooftop of National Gallery Singapore, it offers panoramic views of the Padang and CBD skyline. Throw in the slick wood-and-copper interior and some of the most inventive cocktails on the island, and you’ve got one killer date spot. The drinks menu features classic drinks with experimental twists, and is split into six categories of different flavour profiles like “Fizzy & Elegant”, “Fruity & Punchy” and even “Savoury & Umami”.
A standout is The Japanese Gang is Still Alive, $25, a version of whiskey sour infused with black sesame and rice vinegar.
Tip: Why not check out one of the exhibitions at the National Gallery first before drinks?
Smoke & Mirrors is at #06-01 National Gallery Singapore.
The Old Man
Walk along the bustling Keong Saik road and you’ll come across a pineapple lamp in front of an unmarked door. Push past it, and you’re transported to The Old Man, a new cocktail bar here that pays homage to novelist and cocktail lover Ernest Hemingway. Loosely Inspired by the author’s Havana estate, the space is awash with tobacco-brown decor punctuated with pops of tropical green accents.
The drinks are named after some of his famous works, and highlights include Islands in the Stream, a refreshing blend of pink grapefruit and salted gin. The best part? Each and every one of the bespoke cocktails on the menu goes for just $17 each.
Tip: If possible, grab a seat at the I-shaped bar, which has a chilled metal plate running down the middle that keeps your drinks cool.
The Old Man is at 55 Keong Saik Rd.
When it comes to picking a cocktail joint for a first date, you want a spot that’s small and cosy or it won’t have an intimate vibe. Junior fits that bill and then some. It’s probably the tiniest cocktail bar in Singapore with just 10 seats, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in charm, with tropical ferns covering the ceiling and intimate two-seater booths bathed in soft mood lighting. The bar takes on a new concept every six months or so, the latest being the Tiki-centric Pacifica.
We’re in love with the Hua’ai Tai, a savoury blend of fresh carrot, cachaça, corn, and miso.
Tip: It can be tough to get a seat here after 8pm, so we suggest heading down before then.
Junior is at 43 Tanjong Pagar Road.