If there’s one event in the drinking calendar that we’ve never failed to attend each year, it’s the Singapore Cocktail Festival (SGCF) — easily one of the best celebrations of cocktails in the region to date. As Singapore marks its bicentennial year in 2019, the larger-than-ever lineup returns with award-winning bartenders, brand experiences, bar and restaurant pop-ups, and party beats across nine booze-filled days from 10 to 18 May. Here’s what to expect.

Kick off with ‘Asia’s 50 Best Bars’ awards

Like with last year’s edition, the festivities begins with the Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony on 9 May. The awards ceremony comes as an extension of The World’s 50 Best Bars, and will pay tribute the burgeoning cocktail scene around Asia. 2018 saw a high of 12 Singapore bars making the list, with Regent Singapore’s Manhattan taking the top spot for the second year running.

Three-days of pop-ups experiences and competitions

It’s not a festival proper without a sensational Festival Village, which makes a comeback to the Empress Lawn from 10 to 12 May. Besides playing host to winning bars on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, as well as other local bar stalwarts, visitors will find pop-ups from artisanal spirits brands (think Skin Gin, Codigo 1530, and Maracatu Cachaca) and the ever-popular food street with establishments like Como Cuisine.

Showings to expected in the Festival Village include Singapore’s Tippling Club (No. 7 in 2018) and Jigger & Pony (No. 40 in 2018), From the region are Smalls from Bangkok (No. 29 in 2018) and Keepers from Seoul (No. 47 in 2018). Leading spirit brands such as Four Pillars, Monkey 47, Monkey Shoulder, and Sailor Jerry will also make a return with immersive cocktail experiences.

A new edition this year is the Barstylez International Bartender Championship, where over 60 bartenders from more than 25 countries compete in two categories — ‘Flairing’ and ‘Cocktail’ — to showcase their finest skills.

There are events all around the city too

Can’t make it to the Festival Village? From 10 to 18 May 2019, drink lovers can enjoy special deals and events across 45 cocktail bars and restaurants around Singapore. Whether it’s discounted cocktails, pairing menus, or exclusive bar tours, you’ll want to take advantage of the Festival Cocktail Passport via the Sluggr app.

Participating bars includes usual suspects like Bob’s Bar, Cin Cin, and Smoke & Mirrors, while newcomers Cook & Tras Social Library, Mythz & Myths, and Madame Fan will also be joining in the fun. In the works is the #SGCFBarAcademy, where members of the bar community can engage in an exchange of knowledge and discussion about leading topics on cocktail culture.

The Singapore Cocktail Festival is returning from 10 to 18 May 2019. Early bird tickets go on sale from 1 to 28 February 2019 at $30 (usually $35) for a one-day pass, inclusive of one welcome drink.