Once upon a time there was a drink called a ‘cocktail’. The very first interpretation of which was a simple drink that contained nothing more than alcohol, bitters, sugar and water. The best Old Fashioned sticks true to this description, classic versions of which contain nothing more than the above list.
Over the years cocktails have come and gone, but only the very best stand the true test of time. The Old Fashioned has been around for just over 200 years elevating it to true classic status. You may wonder why it has proved to be so popular, whilst I can’t answer that I can tell you why I love it so much.
Firstly, I really appreciate simplicity. I don’t like fuss and I certainly don’t like fancy drinks with a never ending list of ingredients. You can’t really get more simple than an Old Fashioned now can we?
Secondly, I think it’s a good acid test for any bar – in my book if you can’t knock up a decent Old Fashioned it doesn’t bode well for anything else on the cocktail menu.
In no particular order, here’s my pick of the best Old Fashioned cocktails I’ve tried so far in Singapore. It’s all a matter of personal taste so apologies if your favourite isn’t on this list. I can assure you I will continue to add to it as I drink my way round the island.
1. Manhattan Bar (Regent Hotel)
Oh Manhattan. Id’ heard good things about this place, naturally given it is currently ranked 35th best bar in the world, so I was jumping for joy upon discovering it delivers on both style and substance. Opulent furnishings, perfect lighting, bluesy music – this Great Gatsby-esque interior is the perfect setting to nurse an Old Fashioned.
The house version is made using Rebel Vell small batch rye, though other twists on the classic are available. Next time we’ll be checking out how the house aged rye with pedro Ximenez sherry finish goes down for sure. The drink itself is seriously smooth with a perfect blend of bitters and orange. It starts with a pleasing kick of alcohol, which mellows over time.
The obligatory giant ice cube is thrice distilled and branded with the Manhattan logo. It’s super pure and designed specifically to take longer to melt so it doesn’t over dilute your drink – genius. This is an Old Fashioned to be reckoned with, what a drink.
Manhattan: Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore, 249715 | Tel: 6733 8888 | Website
Opening Hours: Daily 5.00pm – 1.00am / Sunday cocktail brunch 11.30am – 3.30pm
2. The Single Cask
The Single Cask is a relative new kid on the whisky block, and boy am I happy it’s moved in to Chijmes. This cute, compact little pocket of a bar is Scotch heaven, spend any length of time here and you’ll be saying ‘Och aye the noo’ in no time.
Our Old Fashioned was made using honey instead of sugar, two varieties of whisky (The Hive – to bring out the honey flavour, and Spice King – to add, well… spice, both Wemyss malts) and was served with a twist of orange and an atomisation of Cask Islay.
Even if you’re not a whisky fan, you will like this Old Fashioned. It was light, sweet, spicy – think cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg – and surprisingly refreshing. The Cask Islay spritz added a subtle peaty aroma.
The Single Cask: #01-25 Chijmes, 30 Victoria St, Singapore, 187996 | Tel: 9134 6051 | Website
Opening Hours: Open Daily 11.00am – 12.00am
3. Spiffy Dapper
As you may have noticed, for me a good Old Fashioned is as much about the setting as it is the drink itself. Which is partly why the Old Fashioned at Spiffy Dapper makes this list. Not only is it a delicious tipple, I love the old school vibes in one of my favourite speakeasy’s.
Yes, I would prefer a little more bitters and a tad more fruity zest, BUT this Old Fashioned still encapsulates everything the drink should be. The first few sips are strong and punchy, there’s a little sweetness in there just to take the edge off. As the ice cube melted it diluted proceedings to make this a thoroughly enjoyable libation right to the very last sip. I had ordered another before my empty glass hit the bar…
Spiffy Dapper: 73 Amoy Street, Singapore 069892 | Tel: 8722 4953 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 6.oopm – 1.00am / Friday – Saturday 6.00pm – 2.00am / Sunday 7.00pm – 1.00am
4. Bar Stories
As you may know, Bar Stories is a bespoke cocktail bar with no menu. Therefore, you never quite know what you’re going to get. The one thing that is pretty much guaranteed is that it’s going to be good. That was certainly true at least of the Old Fashioned knocked up by my friendly bar man Faz.
Using cardamom as a base note, he muddled this with maple syrup for sweetness before adding a dash of bitters and Makers Mark bourbon whisky. Finishing up with orange zest around the rim, the piece de resistance was setting the rind alight right under my nose. My finished drink appeared in a fiery puff of smoke. Not only did it arrive as if by magic, it tasted magic as well.
I loved the ever so subtle cardamom that added a welcome layer of spice, whilst the maple syrup added a smooth caramel sweetness. Poured over a large ice ball this is a clever twist on a classic. I’ll be back for more, here’s hoping Faz can remember how to make it next time…
Bar Stories: 55-57A Haji Lane, Singapore, 189248 | Tel: 6298 0838 | Website
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday 4.00pm – 1.00am / Friday – Saturday 4.00pm – 2.00am
5. Maison Ikkoku
If you want an Old Fashioned made in the old fashioned way i.e alcohol, sugar, bitters, no fuss, Maison Ikkoku is where it’s at. Made with Bulleit bourbon, Angostura, sugar and a twist of orange it doesn’t get any more classic than this.
It’s one of my favourites for two reasons. Firstly the simplicity, why mess with something and get all fancy when it’s this good? Secondly, I love the ballsy punch of bourbon that smacks you round the chops after the first sip. Winner. I also love the quirky sound tracks that invariably play here, I kicked back to some Flight of the Conchord’s-esque french tunes whilst supping this gem of a drink.
Maison Ikkoku: 20 Kandahar Street, Singapore, 198885 | Tel: 6294 0078 | Website
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday 4.00pm – 1.00am / Friday – Saturday 4.00pm – 2.ooam
Rum is what the team at Sugarhall do best so no surprises here then that the Old Fashioned is a rum based affair.
Made using 12yr old El Dorado, demerara sugar and nutmeg tincture, this is up there with Maison Ikkoku for brilliant simplicity. Who knew that three ingredients could taste so damn good!?
Firstly, this rum is incredible. It’s thick, spicy and reminded me of a fruit cake, I loved it. The demerara creates a deliciously dark, caramelly syrup which is just a treat to drink. A lightly toasted cinnamon stick to garnish adds a subtle layer of spice that also brings out all the fruity notes in the rum.
It’s been the best selling drink on the menu every single week, without fail, since the bar opened. Having tried it myself I can absolutely see why.
Sugarhall: 102 Amoy St, 069922 | Tel: 9732 5607 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 6.00pm – 12.00am | Sunday closed
7. House of Dandy
If you want to feel instantly cool just walk into House of Dandy. This gentleman’s den is an opulent lounge perfect for Old Fashioned drinking.
I began with a classic Old Fashioned, the team here keep it interesting by using a few unusual additions whilst still remaining true to the essence of the drink. Mine was made with a 12yr old Balvenie, Angostura, Bokers Bitters, brown sugar and home made oak tincture.
This produced a really distinct but quite delicious smoky note. I drank the entire glass far too quickly. As I was enjoying myself so much I opted for a second version that veered off the traditional path and into tequila territory.
Yes. You read that correctly. A tequila Old Fashioned. Highly original and one of the most surprisingly brilliant drinks I’ve had in ages. Created using Ocho tequila, Perique Tobacco liqueur, pink grapefruit and Spanish bitters this is a drink for people with balls. It’s smoky, it’s strong, and you’d never know it was tequila.
Have one of these and you’ll never neck a shot of the stuff again. If you’re looking for something completely outside of the Old Fashioned box, this is it.
House of Dandy: 74 Tras St, Singapore, 079013 | Tel: 8661 2340 | Website
Opening Hours: Daily 5.00pm – 12.00am
I can never seem to have just one drink when I visit L’aiglon. It happened again this time when I went to refresh my memory on their Old Fashioned’s.
The first version I tried used rum infused with mushroom as the alchohol component. Strange but true. Oyster and shitake mushrooms to be precise, more on that later. My old friend Gula Melaka was used instead of sugar for sweetness, alongside Peychaud bitters. The mushrooms produced a really unique mouth-feel, it’s unusually smooth and earthy. The sweetness from the Gula Melaka is also quite intense. For something a bit different, this is definitely worth a try.
My second drink was closer to the classic – house blend bourban, bitters and Fernet Branca. Another delicious drink whipped up by the super friendly bar staff. I love this bar, and I love their Old Fashioned’s.
L’Aiglon: 69 Neil Road, Singapore, 088899 | Tel: 9012 6913 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 6.00pm – late / Sunday closed
B28 is one of my favourite whisky dens in Singapore. Partly because it feels as though I’m walking on to a Mad Men set upon entering, and partly because I just can’t get enough of their Old Fashioned’s.
This is another bar serving it the classic way, no frills, no fuss. Just a fine whisky, sugar and bitters. Live jazz music provides the perfect soundtrack whilst you sit back and relax. Classy bar, classy music, classy drink. B28 I salute you.
B28: 28 Ann Siang Rd, The Club (Basement), Singapore, 069708 | Tel: 9026 3466 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 6.00pm – 2.00am / Saturday 8.00pm – 2.00am / Sunday closed
10. Jigger & Pony
If you want a classic Old Fashioned at a great price, check out the Happy Hour at Jigger & Pony (daily from 6-8pm) where you can pick one up at $14. It’s good too and delivers on everything you’d expect; an initial boozy hit, orangey notes, and a satisfyingly heavy glass.
If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, we recommend giving ‘The Godfather’ a try. This is loosely based on the Old Fashioned and contains Monkey Shoulder whisky, amaretto and chocolate bitters. Served with a stick of white chocolate it’s impossible to order just the one.
Jigger & Pony: 101 Amoy Street, Singapore, 069921 | Tel: 6223 9101 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 6.00pm – 1.00am / Friday – Saturday 6.00pm – 3.00am / Sunday closed
11. Long Chim
I’m throwing a curveball into the mix. Yeah, that’s right, sometimes we all need to break out of our comfort zone. Let me introduce you to the Roti Fashioned at Longchim, a unique twist on a classic Old Fashioned.
On paper, this drink sounds sounds all wrong. Banana whisky? Condensed milk? Mango bitters? I had visions of a horrifyingly sweet cloying concoction that would prove nigh on impossible to drink. Let me assure you, however, in reality this is one awesome cocktail.
The instant boozy hit is present, the milk – far from being cloying – actually creates an incredibly smooth finish with just a touch of sweetness. OK, it’s not a classic Old Fashioned but all of the essential elements are there, it’s surprisingly sophisticated and really darn good.
If loving this cocktail is wrong then I do not want to be right.
Long Chim: #02-02, Atrium 2 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore, 018955 | Tel: 6688 7299 | Website
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 12.00am / Saturday – Sunday 5.30pm – 1.00am