12 bars you need to try around Asia today

These bars will make you believe in the art of mixed drinks again, according to the recently released World's 50 Best Bars 2018 list

12 bars in Asia — just in time for Smile’s milestone 12th anniversary! Help us celebrate all over the region:

Manhattan at the Regent Singapore 

Get a taste of the Big Apple sophistication right at the the tiny city-state of Singapore. Try their signature namesake cocktail, or indulge in boozy milkshakes and other tipples at Singapore’s first adults-only Sunday Cocktail Brunch. Head bartender Cedric Mendoza even concocted a special cocktail for Smile readers, in time for Independence Day in the Philippines.

Level 2 of Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden road; +65 6725 3377; regenthotels.com

The Old Man, Hong Kong

An homage to Ernest Hemingway, after all, the novelist is serious about his cocktails just like the industry legends behind this speakeasy. One of Hong Kong‘s hippest bars, the entire place on Soho is peppered with references to the Pulitzer Prize winner, including the imaginative drinks, which are named after his works. You can’t go wrong with Death in the Afternoon, or the refreshing off the menu, White Lady.

Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2703 1899; theoldmanhk.com

Bar High Five, Tokyo

From the hand carved ice to Hidetsugu Ueno’s attention to detail, it’s no surprise this tiny bar made it to the World’s Best Bars list. Although Ueno-san and his staff can make classic cocktails well, it’ll be a waste of their talent not to try one of the innovative cocktails, like the Harvester.

Efflore Ginza5 Bldg. BF, 5-4-15 Ginza Chuo-ward, Tokyo 104-0061; +81-(0)3-3571-5815; barhighfive.com

Speak Low, Shanghai

With secret entrance hidden in OCHO Bar Tools, and secret passageways connecting all 4 floors (each floor has a different concept) of this speakeasy, it’s almost like being taken back to the Prohibition Era at Speak Low in Shanghai. Order the Wang Lao Ji Tea, a cocktail version of the canned herbal tea you see in Chinese restaurants.

No.579 Fu Xing Zhong Road, Shanghai; +86 21 6416 0133, fb.com/5senses.china

Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei

The modern European fare alone is a reason to visit, another is to enjoy mixed drinks with a Taiwanese twist. Try the Spring Awakening, a Japanese gin and Yakult cocktail that is inspired by the regions micro-climates, and also a grown-up way to enjoy a childhood favorite yogurt drink.

No. 11, Lane 219, Section 1, Fuxing S Rd, Da’an District, Taipei; +886 2 2773 0080; indulgebistrotaipei.blogspot.com

The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Music loves have been flocking to this hotel bar in Bangkok since 1953. Known for live jazz, it’s only natural that Bamboo Bar’s drinks are inspired by the genre too. Try the Thaijito or the Riffin’ The Scotch at one of the Thailand capital’s coolest bars.

48 Oriental Avenue, Bang Rak, Bangkok; +66 (2) 659 9000, ext 7690-1; mandarinoriental.com

Janes & Hooch, Beijing

A modern take on a vintage dive bar, in which the owners take the best things about the good ol’ days and adding elements from the modern urban culture, with hopes to create a unique lifestyle experience. While nobody wants to be the receiving end of a lie, make an exception for their signature Little White Lies.

Building 10, 4 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing; +86 (10) 6503 2757; janeshooch.com

Potato Head Beach Club, Bali

Gorgeous sunsets, and good drinks? No you’re not dead, and this is not heaven, but this is what it probably looks like. As you’re in a tropical paradise, the lemongrass-based gin concoction called Kookabura or pineapple-based arak called Barong Zombie would be a perfect drink for this setting.

Seminyak, Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali; +62 (361) 473 7979; ptthead.com/bali

Junglebird, Kuala Lumpur

This tropical rum wonderland also offers drinks using other spirits, but the sugarcane liquor is king. If you’ve had bad memories from the cheap rum of your youth, this is the place to learn to love it. Order the namesake cocktail that was inspired by a drink in the Aviary Bar in the former Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

15 Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur; +60 3-2011 7715; junglebirdkl.com

Loewy, Jakarta

A 1940’s Parisian brasserie meets bar which means you get home-style comfort food (with a modern twist) with your expertly mixed drinks. Try the Cuban Old Fashioned, which is smoked with a cigar, or the more fun Poprock Martini.

Oakwood Premier Cozmo Lobby, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan E42 no.1, Daerah Khusus Ibukota, 12950 Jakarta; +62 21 25542378; fb.com/LoewyJakarta

Le Chamber, Seoul

To get into this swanky bar, you’ll have to pull the right book, and slide the bookshelf open. Inside, is like a Victorian reading room, except you’ve got Diageo World Class champions making your drinks. Enjoy a dram of one of their 200 whiskies or one of the resident mixologists’ signature creation, Chamber Mule.

83-4 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; +82 2-6337-2014; fb.com/LeChamber.seoul

The Curator, Manila

The Curator (photo by Jorem Catilo)

While this is not on the top 50 list, it’s been recognised this year as one of Asia’s Best, and the only one in the list from the Philippines. The Curator‘s vibe is business in the day with third-wave coffee, and party at night for the cocktails. Seems like an odd mix for this Manila-based bar, but David Ong and the expert team behind the Curator takes their homemade bitters and small-batch spirits as seriously as they do with coffee beans. Try the #StillHurting — regardless if you’re nursing a broken heart or not — or David’s Smile! It’s Independence Day! cocktail made especially for Smile’s readers.

134 Legaspi Street, Makati City, Metro Manila; +639163554129; thecuratorcoffeeandcocktails.com


Written by

Kristine Ching

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