Friday nights and Clarke Quay go together like jam in a jar. You don’t have to think of where to park yourself. Just head down to the blockish maze of bars that form The Cannery, and you are bound to settle somewhere. That’s the promise, at least.
But the onslaught of a weekend distorts Clarke Quay into a noisy, pulsating web that borders on claustrophobic. Numerous promoters stand outside each watering hole to cajole you in with flyers, or gestures, forcing you to brush them aside as you’re stuck in the throb of people moving ever forward to the next bar. Top 40 covers blare out every other speaker, deafening your thoughts while you play catch up with your friends. If you’re not there to pre-game before a night at a club, then why Clarke Quay?
Perhaps everything above is hyperbole. Yet, you still can’t contest that The Cannery is a magnet for the masses over the weekend, and that Boat Quay forms a more comfortable alternative. Its just one road crossing away from chaos, into two long stretches of bars that run all the way to Raffles Place. Sure, some of them are duds, and that’s why this guide exists.
Here are all the best bars along Boat Quay to drink at.
Peranakan and Tiki culture are legions apart, but Bee Bee’s unites both with a menu that blends familiar Hawaiian cocktails, like the Mai Tai, with the flavours of Straits Chinese cooking. Opened by the folks behind wallet-friendly Taiwanese bar, Five Ten, Bee Bee’s is the latest entrant in the Boat Quay cocktail scene, and a worthy one at that.
Bee Bee’s, 55A Boat Quay, Singapore 049844, +65 9172 6729
The Container is the al fresco extension to Aribuya, a yakiniku restaurant that has some of the best cuts of wagyu available around town. You get tapas with your cocktails at The Container, but its true selling point are the whisky infusions — the wagyu whisky in particular. The whisky is washed with fat from cuts of wagyu, imparting a full-bodied beefiness to the spirit.
The Container, 78 Boat Quay, Singapore 049866, +65 6532 0365
Beppe De Vito’s Braci is best-known for being a one Michelin-starred eatery, but its rooftop bar is Boat Quay’s best open secret. Head down early to watch the sunset as you sip on Braci’s refreshing take on Italian aperitivos, before heading down to the restaurant for a mod-Italian meal.
Braci, 52 Boat Quay, #05-01/ #06-01, Singapore 049841, +65 6866 1933
The Belljar is a three-storey whisky institution nestled along North Canal Road. Booze bottles, old vinyls and leather couches line the walls of the dim haven, so reminiscent of old-school pubs in London. Come with a keen palate for whisky and be rewarded, as the bartenders are happy to arrange bespoke flights from their vast collection to suit your fancy.
The Bell Jar, 18 North Canal Road, Singapore 049930, +65 9488 9549
If you like your night with a bit of controlled chaos, then this industrial rooftop bar is where its at. Don’t expect award-winning cocktail craftsmanship here, but just a place to unwind over housepour booze, live music, and good vibes.
The Mad Men Attic Bar, 11 North Canal Road, #03-02, Attic Level, Singapore 048824, +65 6222 3529
Ah Sam’s Cold Drink Stall was one of the pioneering bars that established local cocktail culture, and Boat Quay as a place worth your time. The all-things-local bar pulls on your nostalgic heartstrings with its decor, while mixing up some of the most consistent bespoke cocktails around town, best enjoyed with a side of har jeong kai.
Ah Sam’s Cold Drink Stall, 60 Boat Quay, Singapore 049848
Of all the bars along Boat Quay, South Bridge has the best vantage point. It boasts a 360-degree view of the Singapore skyline, allowing you to enjoy nighttime sights like the Marina Bay Sands laser light show as you sip on a crisp glass of champagne. Southbridge also has extensive oyster options sourced from around the world. If you don’t enjoy them raw, the kitchen can cook up your oysters with savoury toppings such as caviar.
Southbridge, 80 Boat Quay, Level 5, Rooftop, Singapore 049868, +65 6877 6965