For when you want to get your drink on without having to dress up for it.
Don’t get me wrong; I like my fancy cocktail bars as much as the next girl, but most of the time, when I’m dying for a drink, I’d prefer to head somewhere where I don’t feel under-dressed wearing sneakers and jeans and not have to think about whether I want a floral-infused gin with a hint of juniper. While it’s common knowledge that alcohol in Singapore never comes cheap (unless you’re really okay with drinking in kopitiams all the time) … these are some options that won’t break the bank.
1. Ice Cold Beer
This veritable institution at Emerald Hill has seen me through good times and bad for more than 10 years now. I’d even go as far as to say that this is one of the best dive bars out there: Not only can get pints of draught beer for $11 nett (always delivered ice cold, of course), they also serve up decent pizza and to-die-for prawn paste chicken AND have an awesome playlist mostly made up of of 90s Britpop and rock tunes. This place fills up FAST on practically any day of the week, so you best be there by 6.30pm to score yourself a table.
Ice Cold Bar is located at 9 Emerald Hill.
2. Lot, Stock and Barrel
Okay, so this bar seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. Its indoor seating area looks and feels like a Chinese KTV bar, oh who am I kidding … it is one. So don’t be surprised when you walk in and find regulars belting out songs by A-mei, Stefanie Sun and Jeff Chang at any given time. But it’s also decked out in Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson posters, and has a non-Chinese live band playing some nights that does renditions of Guns ‘n’ Roses hits and “Summer of ‘69”. Honestly though, it would be mean to nitpick because their Happy Hour deals are pretty irresistible. Jugs of Tiger beer go for $22, and the chirpy service staff are always on hand to make sure your glasses never stay empty. Oh, and they don’t mind if you tabao chicken rice from the shop down the street to enjoy on the premises.
Lot, Stock and Barrel is located at 30 Seah Street.
3. Amber Nectar
Hands down the cheapest place to enjoy ice cold pints of craft beer at Robertson Quay. Specialising in German beers such as Hofbrau and Schlenkerla, pints of these go for $8 from 5pm to 8pm. They also have awesome monthly promotions. For instance, for the month of January, you can enjoy two pints of Crew Republic IPA for $20 nett! It’s also one of the few places in Singapore where you actually want to sit outdoors, thanks to the airy and spacious courtyard. Service is prompt and friendly, and music runs the gamut from Ellie Goulding to Destiny’s Child. A great place to tank up before you head somewhere else to continue the party.
Amber Nectar is located at 11 Unity Street, #01-10/11.
4. The Cider Pit
This place is not fancy. Like, really really not fancy. Service can also be a bit of a hit or miss depending on who’s around. But those are really just minor points when you consider that they have hands down the best selection of (mostly) English beers and ciders this side of Singapore, and most won’t cost you more than $12. My all-time favourite is the slightly sweet and complex Old Empire IPA.
The Cider Pit is located at 328 Joo Chiat Road.
5. Crazy Elephant
In my opinion, Crazy Elephant is the ONLY place in Clarke Quay worth visiting. This live blues joint has stood the test of the time, having been around for more than a decade. That’s really no small feat for an area that sees an usually high turnover of bars and clubs (remember that gimmicky hospital-themed restaurant that was there eons ago?). Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that their beers are relatively reasonable in price (for Clarke Quay, at least), and that they have cornered the market for live blues and rock ‘n’ roll. The band that plays there has talent in spades, and they’re usually rocking out to a full house of appreciative listeners.
Crazy Elephant is located at #01-03/04 Clarke Quay.
6. Cuscaden Patio
Of course, no list of dive bars is complete without a mention of Cuscaden Patio, which is, perhaps the diviest dive bar of them all. As a poor 19-year-old a lifetime ago, this was the place to go to get sloshed on a dime, especially on Tuesdays, because that’s when jugs of San Miguel are just $10. Its indoor seating space is within the very dingy grounds of Ming Arcade, and it’s crazy to think that a long time ago, authorities closed an eye to indoor smoking. Lots of people also come here for their famed chicken wings and Patio rolls, which are basically cocktail sausages wrapped in flour batter and then deep fried. I don’t believe they’ve renovated in all these years, so it still maintains that ol’ rough and tough vibe that I’ve come to know and love.
Cuscaden Patio is located at #B1-111 Ming Arcade.
7. Bar Bar Black Sheep (Cherry Avenue)
Business has slowed in the past few months, leading to the unfortunate closure of the western food stall here, which is a pity because they served up a fantastic tiger prawn aglio olio pasta and the best damn fish & chips outside of the UK (according to some English people we know). You can, however, still look forward to North Indian delicacies such as butter chicken, fish masala, and tandoori chicken, accompanied by assorted naans. The generous portions, coupled with the friendly service, are what keeps us coming back for more. For beers, Kronenbourg and Tetley’s are on tap, but they also have a decent selection of ciders including Somersby and Brothers. In our opinion, this is the best Bar Bar Black Sheep outlet of them all because the food is reliably good.
Bar Bar Black Sheep is located at 879 Cherry Avenue.