Imagine flying across the Atlantic in first class during the 1950s. That excitement in the air as you venture into exotic lands amidst glamour and luxury, and the occasional rustling of newspapers all around. Such was the Golden Age of air travel, and it’s an experience that Idlewild wants to recreate. Planes have inspired everything from hotels to restaurants before, so why not a bar?
The exciting new cocktail joint comes tucked away at the corner of InterContinental Singapore. Like the stylish first class lounge of an early-day Boeing 707, Idlewild is wildly decadent in its design. The interior is separated into two distinct sections — the Parlour and Main Room — characterised by plush furnishing and old-world club lighting that adds a dreamy glow. Raised booths with expensive-looking mother of pearl tables make a good spot for a small group or romantic date.
When you enter, stop by the glistening Cabinet of Curiosities near the entrance. The bar already has an impressive holding of over 250 craft spirits and liqueurs, but this particular ‘room’ sees about 50 rare spirits (and some fascinating trinkets) that you’ll want to ask the bar manager Andy Griffiths about. Fresh from his latest stint as Head of Mixology for Australia’s The Speakeasy Group, he boasts titles like Global Cocktail Champion and Brand Ambassador for Angostura in 2011, and a nomination for ALIA Australian Bartender of the Year in 2018.
Griffith’s drinks programme draws from 10 cities along the popular Transatlantic Route, featuring two cocktails for each of them. We start in Mexico with Sugarloaf ($24), a heady blend of pineapple rum and cognac shaken with house-fermented tepache, tamarind, and lime. Complete with a mini ’taco’ rolled from pineapple leather and pickled watermelon rind, it’s our favourite of the night — anything that uses tepache is usually a winner.
The Shaftesbury Theatre ($25) — one of London’s finest entertainment venues — is encapsulated in a cocktail of the same name. Blending London Dry Gin with dry vermouth, Chartreuse Genepi, and black lemon bitters, this herbaceous drink is a classic for the modern age. We then make our way to Paris for The French Cook ($26). There is French gin, chardonnay, and Chartresuse Genepi lightly carbonated to leave a tingle on the tongue, then topped with wormwood jelly, like an absinthe drink you’d imbibe while strolling down Champs-Élysées — preferably on a fresh spring day.
At this point, a four-piece house band (we’re told the vocalist is switched up every month) comes on stage. Led by London-born singer songwriter Janine Annice, the quartet puts out postmodern takes on smooth jazz tunes and some pop classics — Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. It’s the kind of music you want to groove to with a drink in hand, particularly the Passage to Havana ($30), a rich and dry concoction of Cuban rum, Amontillado and Pedro Ximénez sherries, and Foro Amaro for a herbal hint at the back of the throat.
When you start to get peckish, there are tapas-style snacks like Atun Chifa (a savoury yellowfin ceviche on wonton crackers), Duck Rillettes, and Avocado Fries to fill you up from as low as $15. Otherwise, pick your next destination and drink some more. Because few things make a journey around the world this refreshing like cocktails do.
Idlewild is located at Lobby Level, InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Rd, Singapore 188966, +65 6825 1045. Open Tue-Thu 5pm – 1am, Fri-Sat 5pm – 2am. Closed Sun-Mon.