28 Hong Kong Street has recently been developing something of a buzz in the drinks world of Singapore…With no signage out front and PR that is deliberately discreet, it’s very much a place you hear about word of mouth…which is exactly how I came to hear about it….
After making a post dinner reservation for 10.30pm, the 4 of us arrived.
Arriving at the door, the entrance is deliberately private, akin to that of a New York lounge. Basically you have to get past the immaculately stylish and well-spoken host to even step inside the main room. The place oozes privacy. Once you’re ‘really’ inside, the game changes. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and you can find a whole range of people there. This is a place you can come in a group of friends, or just as easily a discreet date. In a way, it’s quite social if you want it to be.
Which reminds me, no photography allowed.
Ok, drinks: the staff tell you upfront that 28 standard is an American/’Gentleman’s pour. Basically, a standard shot in Singapore is 30ml. Here, the standard is at least 45ml. (Massive grin – only 2 places in Singapore do this as far as I know).
I know what you’re thinking – ‘this all sounds very nice but I’m sure they charge exorbitant prices for drinks?’ Well, guess again! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the prices on the drinks they were offering. They are expensive, but the quality and service make it worth every penny.
As my friends well know, my (spirit)poison of choice is Rum and after being served up a very generous Ron Zacapa 23yr for $20, I was then encouraged by Desiree (from 28) to try the 12yr Zaya Rum ($18)….and it was superb. Smooth, toffee and orange sweetness. I had to compliment her on her recommendation. Now I think about it, no Bacardi or Havana Club to be seen on the menu. This pretty much applied to all spirits. They offer an astonishingly good selection – Bourbons, Single Malts, Rums, Agave-based, Vodka etc. And none of the generic, commercial standards. You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into the menu selection.
Also ordered were a few ‘old favourites’ – the ‘Old Fashioned’, a notoriously difficult drink to make well with a rather lengthy process. Now in most places where might find this delight, there are usually only 1 or 2 options..Not here. To quote Thea (from 28 Hong Kong Street) – ‘We can make an Old Fashioned from anything you like’. Sweet. Myself, I decided to go traditional and order one made with Templeton Bourbon, one friend ordered with Laphroig, and yet another with Balblair! Each was excellently made (easily the best i’ve had in Singapore) and each of the different varieties showed true form to their natural taste.
NB – An Old Fashioned is pretty labour intensive, better to order them at off-peak times
Whilst they do have a sexy, innovative cocktails menu, their ‘normal’ spirits’ list can be made any way you like. To paraphrase, you pick the liqueur of choice and they take care of the rest.
By the end of the night we’d made friends with basically all the staff and aside from being delightful and personable they totally knew their liquor. None of this “excuse me, I’ll go ask the manager”. Service was tip top. Moreover, you get the impression that they treat all their customers with such attention. It was really something special.
Would I recommend 28 Hong Kong Street? Hell yes! But don’t expect to come here and be served up your standard drinks. This is a boutique spirits paradise. Best for a post-date romantic drink to get some privacy, or just some unique and well mixed drinks with a small group of close friends.
To reserve a table call 6533 2001. Reservations HIGHLY recommended. They get booked quickly.
Update from March 2016: It’s been 4 years since 28 Hong Kong Street opened its doors. It’s since won the Bar Awards best bar, best bartender and best bar food. It’s won our own City Nomads 2015 Awards for the same. Translation: 28 Hong Kong Street is still one of (if not THE) best bars in Singapore.