One is a buttoned down, speakeasy cocktail spot. The other is a cafe with a surrealist lounge. But both share a similar belief in the classics, albeit reinterpreted in distinctly different ways.
Taylor Adam’s speakeasy concept is perhaps the most classically conspicuous. Since the idea became a trend over two decades ago, many cocktail bars still dabble in its elements from bartending styles to the use of ingredients.
At Taylor Adam, the approach takes centrestage. You enter through a mirrored fitting room in a tailor shop. The bartenders are clad in ties and bespoke three-piece suits. The heavy chairs cocoon you in supple leather, the lighting illuminates the only thing that matters in the room: the bar.
In the age of social media, a speakeasy in a Central Business District mall is an interesting choice. Newer bars have also mostly refrained from implementing the concept wholesale. But head bartender Andrew Pang said it was more of an idea. “Like the classic speakeasy, we want to let people know that we can tailor their drinks to what they want.”
The bar continues the haberdashery theme in their preview menu, which is based on tales British Empire soldiers would tell their tailor as they get their uniforms made. These stories are turned into 12 cocktails that span across history.
Over The Sea, for instance, transports drinkers to the civil war between Scotland and England through a gently smoky Old Fashioned, with sea grape garnish offering a crunchy, briny counterpoint. The Mexican Standoff is a confrontation between tequila and chili, but both flavours end up agreeing.
For a journey through the East Indies, opt for the Ceylon Panch. Combining arrack with black tea, five spice, and mulled wine, it’s a highball that tastes like an Asian Christmas. LSD is the closest thing to a psychedelic trip through the UK’s Swinging Sixties, a floral and visually swirling gin sour just like The Beatles’s famous album cover.
Stay Gold Flamingo
Significantly more contemporary is Stay Gold Flamingo. The Amoy Street venue pairs a cafe out front – Flamingo – and Stay Gold lounge at the back designed to break “away from the conventional templates of traditional classic bars, and reflects our vision in an age of community and individual expression,” said Bar Manager and Cofounder Jerrold Khoo.
In their case, classic cocktails are how they start the conversation. The menu is divided in two parts: the first consisting of classic serves plotted around a triangle. An inverted pyramid forms the other part, indicating twists on those drinks.
Drinks are also broken down into base spirit, modifier, and enhancer, with the signature cocktails showcasing how the Khoo and cofounder Bai Jiawei reinterpret the ingredients.
Take their Perfect Sazerac, for example, a spicy number made herbaceous by absinthe. In the corresponding Intro To Absinthe, the absinthe enhancer becomes the main ingredient, giving a coconut and Earl Grey highball a botanic kick. The Wild Fresh Sawa transforms the whisky sour into a bright, perfumed drink, while the Twiggy adds notes of dark berries to the Bamboo.
Classic dishes also get remixed at Stay Gold. Not So Stinky Tofu dials down the funk while adding crunch from pig’s ears. Golden snapper dressed in sambal matah, a Balinese chilli paste, arrives as the most generous fish taco I’ve ever seen. But not all traditions get turned around: mala quail eggs are delightfully creamy and tingly, a time honoured combination that always works.
1 Raffles Place, #01-03, Singapore 048616
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 5pm to 10.30pm
Stay Gold Flamingo
69 Amoy Street, Singapore 069887
Flamingo – Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm
Stay Gold – Monday to Saturday, 5pm to 10:30pm