The Chinatown and Outram Park districts are shaped by a number of idiosyncratic neighbourhoods that also double as food and beverage meccas for our island. One of them is Duxton Hill, a snug street framed by shophouse buildings that shelter a diverse ecosystem of different dining and bar experiences.
The juxtapositions are as striking as they are fun to uncover — you can find a bar serving up cocktails crafted with ingredients found in traditional Chinese medicine just adjacent to a Scandinavian hotdog joint that pumps out kicker negronis, and much, much more.
Should you find yourself thirsty in the area anytime this week, or are in the midst of planning an evening there, we’ve rounded up a guide to our favourite bars in Duxton Hill for a drink or two.
Praelum has consistently remained one of our favourite wine bars for good reason. Though the establishment boasts a wine cellar with a whopping 1,000-over bottle count, the premises are bright, airy and unpretentious enough for you to enjoy, even learn about wines without feeling like a sommelier in a suit might shove jargon down your throat. The by-the-glass list is also refreshed weekly, keeping customers constantly excited for what Praelum has to offer.
Kilo Kitchen is better known for its food, but the intimate restaurant also offers a bar that serves up drinks in an atmosphere far more relaxed than its sister and local nightlife hotspot, Kilo Lounge. The cocktail menu is lined with signatures inspired by global cultures, so you can expect to be spoilt for choice between a makgeoli-inspired cocktail, a spicy margarita and a seven-day house-infused sangria.
Few concepts offer a good time as reliably as a Mexican bar, especially one open by the Loco Group. Lucha Loco is the brand’s popular Duxton Hill outpost, offering Mexican cuisine and a garden bar where you can while away the evening over tacos, house-brand beers, and agave spirits.
Bars teeming with a healthy selection of champagnes and proseccos are a-plenty in Singapore, but one with an equally admirable selection of cava is hard to come by. Bar-celona is one, if not the only Spanish bar with a broad selection of its native sparkling wines to accompany the beefy tapas menu offered. Don’t pass up this joint even if bubbly is not your jam as Bar-celona also has a lengthy list of still Spanish wines too.
On the surface, Latteria brands itself as an Italian restaurant and mozzarella bar serving up the widest selection of the soft cheese we’ve ever seen in Singapore. Push aside the food menu and peruse its beverage counterpart, however, and the restaurant reveals that it is also a trove of artisanal Italian beers, including the likes of Menabrea and Otus Pils.
SG Taps is a laidback craft beer bar and bistro with a distinctively Japanese slant. 10 craft beers rotate on the draughts regularly, while the food menu features some intriguing hybrid dishes that meld local hawker staples with Japanese classics. Enjoy a pint of Hitachino as you munch on some yong tau foo oden, slurp on mee sua somen, or dig into a warming bowl of laksa ramen.
Apart from rampant opportunities for people-watching and top-notch Thai food, Fung Kee Hotdogs is one of the best gifts Orchard Towers has bequeathed unto us. The Scandinavian hotdog diner has opened its sophomore outlet in Duxton, though its opening in a classier neighbourhood doesn’t mean it loses any of its signature soul. Still available with its moreish hotdogs and sandwiches are their classic cocktails made in-house, including the negroni we can’t get enough of.
Singaporeans have a special brand of scorn for restaurants that try to “elevate” or put unnecessary spins on local favourites, but Xiao Ya Tou is one of those mod-Asian joints that have managed to get away with serving unagi eggs benedict and truffle duck fried rice, because they’ve mitigated our ire with good food. Beyond the dishes, the restaurant also has a bar that pushes out Asian-inspired cocktails, like vodka Milo Dinosaur.
Restaurant Jag’s dining menu is a love letter to French fine dining, especially ingredients from his native Alps, and its sister bar’s concept mirrors that ethos. Named The Lounge Bar, this 23-seater room offers guests a cocktail menu grounded in herbs from Savoie and French spirits — perfect for an aperitif before dinner or a nightcap right after.
Six Senses at Duxton is rooted in a holistic approach to living, and that comes reflected in Yellow Pot’s offerings. The healthy Cantonese restaurant has a cocktail selection of drinks crafted with ingredients familiar to traditional Chinese medicine, including chrysanthemum and teas. It makes an evening sat by the bar feel less sinful, we think.