Of all the bars we were planning to visit in Singapore, Atlas may have been the one I was most excited for.
Grand in every sense of the word, Atlas is an art deco masterpiece, boasts the world’s largest gin collection, and features cocktails you simply won’t find anywhere else in the world.
When we told our Uber driver we were going to the Parkview Square building, we asked to verify he knew what it was.
I mean after all, as I understood it, it was a random office building just outside the heart of Singapore.
“Oh yes, we all know it here. We call it Gotham.”
As we pulled up to the building it was easy to see why.
The building looked straight out of 1920s Gotham City – a bold art deco building, that didn’t look anything like its modern glass counterparts found in the rest of the city.
When you walk into the building, the grandeur of the place is breathtaking. Stunningly high ceilings, two balconies on either end of the bar, and the centerpiece: a 3 story tall collection of gin and rare spirits.
If The Great Gatsby were a cocktail bar, this would be it.
When you plan a trip to the complete opposite side of the world, there’s a fine balance of timing you have to decide upon.
For this trip, we had 8 bars on our list:
- The Other Room
- Tippling Club
- 28 Hong Kong Street
- Operation Dagger
So do you schedule your visit over a weekend, knowing you’ll be fighting crowds every step of the way – but get a better sense of the bar’s true atmosphere? Or do you go mid week, early in the day, and try and chat up the bartender as much as possible?
We almost always opt for the latter – and that’s what we did for this trip.
Our reservation at Atlas was 4pm on a Monday afternoon, and while it certainly wasn’t crowded, it definitely wasn’t empty either.
We sat at the bar, and immediately met Sim the bar manager, who was awesome. He answered all of our questions, gave me a lesson on how to make their signature martini, and even gave us a tour of the rare spirits, gin collection, and showed us the 3 bottles of champagne that had been sitting under water for over 80 years and were discovered in a shipwreck.
Drinks at Atlas Singapore
Obviously the first drink I had to try was the Atlas Martini – which I knew from the first sip would become one of my favorite martinis of all time.
It was a harmonious symphony of Ford’s London Dry Gin, blanco vermouth, orange bitters, and the secret ingredient? Champagne vinegar.
These ingredients give the Atlas martini a slightly sour, briny punch that is accented perfectly by the expressed lemon over the top of the drink.
Most martinis will punch you in the face, hard, but the Atlas martini felt more refined, and more accessible for the non-martini drinker. This was verified by my wife Tate’s response of “well, I don’t hate it as much as most martinis.”
That’s a win in my book.
She opted for the classy and refined Cafe Royal Special. A lovely champagne cocktail with gin, sloe gin, pineapple, and sweet vermouth. It was unique, balanced, and delicious. The brittle it was served with might have been the highlight – we could have had an entire plate of those.
The more bars you visit, the more you really learn that each has its own personality. Some are fun and playful, some creative, others theme heavy – but with Atlas, the best way I can describe it is precise. The cocktails erred towards more straight forward European ingredients like sparkling wines, vermouth, and obviously gin.
But everything about the bar and the drinks there felt like it was done with purpose, and the quality and refinement showed.
In the mood to splurge on something you may not see otherwise? Then check out their vintage martini menu.
Want to know what a martini tasted like in 1920? Well here, they’ll serve you a martini from each decade made with ingredients from each decade.
So a martini with gin and vermouth from the 20s? You can do that. They have vintages for every decade from 1910 through to the 1990s.
Or in the mood for a 1940s negroni? They have that too.
I’ve seen more and more bars doing a vintage cocktail program, and while spendy, it’s a super unique experience. The negroni variation I had on my first visit to Bar Ben Fiddich in Tokyo is still hands down one of the coolest cocktail experiences I’ve had.
Final Impressions of Atlas Singapore
In the end, Atlas lived up to every expectation I had for it.
It’s a gin lovers paradise, and even if you’re not typically a gin connoisseur (as is the case with Tate), they’ll have a cocktail for you that will make you like gin.
Or they’ll have something else for you entirely.
As is to be expected, Atlas is on the expensive side, but in the grand scheme of things due to favorable exchange rates against the US Dollar it felt like a downright bargain at times.
Most of the cocktails on the list came in around 25 Singapore Dollars – right now this is just over $18 in USD. Which, I mean is still very expensive for a cocktail, but compared to the $22 martini at Connaught Bar, which tips the scales at $28 USD, our whole Singapore trip came in surprisingly under budget.
Of all the bars we visited in Singapore, Atlas was hands down one of the favorites, and it’s no surprise why it’s both in the top 10 in the world’s best list, as well as in the top 10 of my personal list.
It was unfortunate that it was the very first stop on a night with 2 other bars to hit (which ended up being 3). We felt the need to pace ourselves, and so we didn’t get a chance to explore the menu as much as we would have liked.
But if you’re visiting Singapore and could only go to one bar I think I’d have to give the nod to Atlas. While the drinks at 28 Hong Kong Street may have been the most creative and consistently good across the board, the combination of beautiful atmosphere, unparalleled drink quality, and “instagram worthiness” of the whole experience, would give it my recommendation.