With a motley collection of jaded HDB flats, quaint shophouses and humble old-school eateries, Little India is definitely one of the most diverse and colourful neighbourhoods in Singapore. Located on the fringes of this charming district is Hotel Vagabond – a swanky boutique hotel that is luxury property chain Garcha Hotels by Satinder Garcha’s latest establishment.
Designed by the internationally-acclaimed Jacques Garcia, Hotel Vagabond adds an air of opulence and swag to the streets of Little India. This same lavishness can be found at the diminutive Bar Vagabond, which sits directly next to restaurateur Loh Lik Peng’s fabulous specialty meat restaurant 5th Quarter.
Interior of Bar Vagabond
The minute you make your way past the grandiose velvet red curtains and rows of premium spirits, a golden baboon statue will immediately catch your attention. Also, tipplers who appreciate prestige will be pleased to know that the bar is conceptualised by drinks collective Proof & Co and helmed by resident bartender Shahrul Ariffin.
Split into two segments, the contemporary section of the bar menu features cocktails with innovative and progressive elements, whereas the retro portion of drinks are mainly dark spirit-based with sophisticated flavours. We started our imbibing sessions light, going for the cheeky-sounding A Certain Shade of Green ($18) – containing a floral blend of St. George terroir gin, kiwi, matcha, lemon, absinthe, and chrysanthemum.
The tantalisingly spicy Katana ($20) was quite a revolutionary – and savoury – take on the popular Bloody Mary, with a combination of Death’s Door gin, tomato, wasabi, soy, and avocado. Another drink that was wonderfully impactful on the palate was the intensely potent Amélie ($21) – a seductive union of pierre ferrand cognac, dry curaçao, strawberry, maraschino, and angostura bitters.
Alas, the Viva La Vida ($18) failed to scale the same heights. Tasting overly strongly of cucumber and salt, the mixture of artenom 1580 blanco tequila, kinda d’or, watermelon, lemon, and chili salt was disappointing.
Cocktails aside, patrons who wish to have a glass of wine can order it by the bottle or glass. Beer geeks aren’t left out either, as Vagabond Bar has a list of imported craft beer labels such as the British Brew Dog Punk IPA ($14), the American Evil Twin Hipster Ale ($14) as well as the Japanese Hitachino Nest ($16).
Bar Vagabond may be an ambitious outfit with loads of creativity and passion, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes the top watering hole of choice for discerning cocktail connoisseurs. Nevertheless, with such promise shown in its early stages, the sky’s the limit for Hotel Vagabond’s fledgling bar.