For a city that’s supposedly heavily invested into the arts, jazz bars are far and few between in Singapore. Even the iconic music venue Blu Jaz Cafe had to stop hosting gigs after its entertainment license was suspended last year. Every now and then, a new place pops up to get in on the game — this time, it’s Maduro on the uppermost floor of 40C Harding Road on Dempsey Hill.
The man behind the concept is Peter Ng, a silver-haired first-time F&B owner who spends his days shuttling around brokering deals for prime properties in London. It sounds like a curious, if ambitious venture, until you realise he was one of Singapore’s most sought after jazz pianists during the 80s. He’s also the gracious host of one too many hazy evenings behind closed doors, but it’s a detail known to a select lucky few — rumour has it there’s a hidden door here leading to a private cigar room for his business associates.
Maduro takes over the space previously occupied by ilLido Group’s Room For More, transforming the latter into a spacious living room (Peter calls it a “listening lounge”) lined with mismatched velvet couches, marble-top coffee tables, and the stray leather armchair. At the end sits a baby grand piano, a barebones drum kit, and a double bass on its side. It’s the lush setting he dreamed about — for quiet nights with slow, sultry jazz and more uptempo numbers. Poignant emotions take over, and you’re now at home.
As a live music venue, Maduro already has a steady repertoire of weekly programmes lined up. The 1819 Tuesday Jam sessions feature up-and-coming jazz musicians led by pianist Tan Wei Xiang, while Tiara Friday Club sees one-off star-studded performances by top industry veterans like Jeremy Monteiro and Jacintha Abisheganaden. Saturday’s Best is a weekly residency that’s curated by a monthly artiste-in-residence, adding their own spin to the magic.
But unless you only drink whisky and vino, this place doesn’t offer very much else. There’s a good amount of Scotch, from an accessible Springbank 10 Years (S$280) to things like Glenglassaugh 1978 38 Years (S$3,800) and a ridiculous The Macallan M Black (S$18,000). There are some Japanese bottles too, but they are needlessly expensive. The sizeable wine list includes labels such as a 2016 Luce Della Vite Merlot (S$130), NV Villa M Cuvee Dolce (S$75), and rare Old World treasures like a 2009 Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan Bordeaux Blend (S$3,550).
Otherwise, you will find a tight classic cocktail selection priced at S$22 each — an aromatic G&T with Rinomato added, a Negroni that swaps out Campari for the woody notes of St. George Bruto Americano, and an Old Fashioned that uses Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters. Lending a bit of their rustic French bistro spirit, ground floor neighbour Atout brings up a tasty enough selection of bar bites, like a unctuous Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Pâté (S$15) and the hard-to-dislike Brie de Meaux spread with truffle mascarpone pasta (S$19).
Most Fridays and Saturdays see a cover charge of $30, but thankfully it’s redeemable for a housepour drink. It’s not a bad price to pay for helping jazz survive in Singapore. Think about that as you sink into the colourful background of smoky drams and thoughtful notes.
Maduro is located at 40C Harding Rd, Level 3, Singapore 249548, p. +65 9756 4775. Open Mon-Thu 2pm – 1am, Fri-Sat 2pm – 2am.