Cheers to the new bar on Singapore’s Boat Quay – a stretch that’s been seeing something of a cocktail movement ever since George Abhishek Cherian opened up Spiffy Dapper in 2013 (he’s now moved to a larger space on Amoy Street). That was shortly before Sam Wong launched his speakeasy Ah Sam’s Cold Drinks Stall a few doors down, and then, there is Skinny’s Lounge, Nick Haas’ one year-old American KTV parlour.
Like the others, Bee Bee’s – which officially opened a month ago – looks older than it actually is. Call it rustic or old, but it is an area with undeniable character and plenty of history, as attested by the cobbled streets and chipped stairs running up to the bar. It also helps that owners Bryan and Shawn Kishore (the same duo behind Taiwanese street food joint FIVE TEN) together with their team painted, decorated, and set up the space without professional help. The imperfection and casualness is appealing – purple paint-splattered walls, authentic Peranakan tiles (purchased from the Peranakan Museum, no less), old-school posters, modern industrial lights, and tables with pipes for legs.
The designation Bee Bee’s is a reference to the name of their mother, a Peranakan matron whose influence is apparent in the menu. Fronted by Bryan, you’ll find Tiki-style cocktails elevated with Asian spices commonly used in Straits Chinese cooking. And the huge draw? They are mostly priced at a very affordable $15 nett, a huge steal considering the generous pour and quality.
Try the Mai Tu Liao (a cheeky Hokkien colloquialism for “don’t wait any further!”), a twist on a Mai Tai that utilises gin, orgeat syrup, egg white, lime, chives, mint, and a dash of cranberry bitters. It’s a beautiful marriage of tropical fruitiness and Asian flavours – I mean, how often do you taste chives in a cocktail? On the sour side is Sorry Not Sorry, inspired by the mix of red dragonfruit and soursop – a ubiquitous drink in many a hawker centre. Bryan then adds in cachaça, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and kaffir lime leaf for a very unapologetic and spicy cocktail.
If you’re itching for a kick, order the Respite, a short but effective concoction of bourbon, crème de cassis, rosso, and chocolate bitters. It’s soothingly chocolatey and perfect to close off the night (or open it, we won’t judge). Be warned for it packs a punch – just like the container it’s served in. There’s also the Dark as Selva, named after a regular who loved a stiff drink made with ginger. As you may have guessed, it’s a take on the classic Dark ‘n’ Stormy highball, which traditionally uses ginger beer. Sometimes you just want something soothing. The spirit-forward Amboire will do well, with herbal and floral notes from bitter gentian liqueur, elderflower, and aromatic rum base, like a wise dignified Peranakan elder that everyone admires.
At nine drinks in total, including other creations like the jackfruit-endowed Flora Nangka, Fresh (juice with rum!), the grape-y Murmurs in Purple, and Sombong, a light tipple with melon, pineapple, and pandan, Bee Bee’s cocktail list is on the small side.
Mixology-wise, this spot isn’t quite at the standard of Employee’s Only or 28HKS, but for casual fun drinks at fantastic value and quality, Bee Bee’s hits the nail on the proverbial head – or that of the random flamingo float at the corner.
On the food front, you’ll find some Peranakan-inspired snacks – well, three of them. Conceptualised by Chef Shawn Koh, there is a spicy Tuna Tartare Bruschetta ($7, like poké on toast) spiced with ginger flower and basil, Auntie Mary’s Bruschetta ($6) – topped with tomato, burrata, and seasoned with intriguing Peranakan spices, and the Babi Braised, which you’d be familiar with if you’ve been to FIVE TEN, where Shawn helms the kitchen. This fatty pork lunch bowl is a hot favourite, and here, it is served with spicy achar and onsen egg on a bed of Japanese short-grain rice.
Bryan has a great (and pretty young) team backing him at this swaggy Boat Quay shophouse, ready to zest up your life with its great menu of cheeky Tiki cocktails. And what better than its Peranakan twist to spice up your night?
Bee Bee’s is located at 55A Boat Quay, Singapore 049844, p. +65 9172 6729. Open Mon-Sat 5pm – 12am. Closed Sun.