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Inside Jigger and Pony – a hidden gem in Singapore named ‘best bar in Asia’

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Looks will be deceptive. The glossy Singapore hotel lobby I’m standing in is somewhat vanilla in appearance, however it harbours something fairly thrilling.

To 1 side is a small, dark passageway that leads to what’s officially Asia’s best bar, Jigger and Pony

The establishment earned this coveted title on this 12 months’s World’s 50 Best Bars awards, which ranks the creme de la creme of cocktail bars across the globe.

Jigger and Pony – a jigger being the hourglass-shaped measuring device utilized by bartenders – is ranked twelfth overall.

Ailbhe MacMahon pays a visit to Singapore’s Jigger and Pony (above), which has been named ‘The Best Bar in Asia’ within the 2022 World’s 50 Best Bars awards

It is a toast-worthy achievement for the pair behind it, husband-and-wife team Gan Guoyi, who has a hospitality background with Singapore Airlines, and Indra Kantono, who previously worked with the U.S management consulting firm Bain & Company.

When it launched in 2012 it was based on Amoy Street in Singapore’s Chinatown, but as business boomed, it relocated to the Amara Singapore hotel, where it still resides today.

Step through the passageway to the bar and also you’re led right into a dark, moody space with slick, jazzy music reverberating through speakers. Chic Singaporean couples and groups of friends chat in crescent-shaped booths, while a protracted counter in the center invites communal seating – an unusual touch for an intimate cocktail bar. The decor is suitably sophisticated, with numerous velvet, mid-century lighting fixtures, peach drapes and soft orange swivel chairs.

Golden light spills out from the bar, where staff wearing formal grey waistcoats and ties are hard at work shaking and stirring elegant concoctions.

Jigger and Pony – a jigger being the hourglass-shaped measuring device used by bartenders - is ranked 12th overall by the World's 50 Best Bars awards

Jigger and Pony – a jigger being the hourglass-shaped measuring device utilized by bartenders – is ranked twelfth overall by the World’s 50 Best Bars awards

Jigger and Pony is based in the lobby of the Amara Singapore hotel Step through the passageway to the bar and you're led into a dark, moody space with slick, jazzy music reverberating through speakers

Jigger and Pony relies within the lobby of the Amara Singapore hotel. Step through the passageway to the bar and also you’re led right into a dark, moody space with slick, jazzy music reverberating through speakers

Once I’m ushered to my table, Senior Bartender Adrian Foo tells me that there are loads of elements at play in making the bar so successful story. He says: ‘It’s all concerning the hospitality, it’s concerning the drinks, it’s about [the] ambience. At the identical time, [it’s about] how we treat our guests, not only as customers, but we treat them more like a friend. Every thing comes together.’

Menus are presented in a glossy magazine ‘menu-zine’ format, crammed with detailed descriptions of the drinks. You possibly can take one home for 18 Singapore dollars (£11).

Flip to the primary page and also you’re presented with a cornucopia of unconventional tipples, from the Sweet Potato Opera (Hendrick’s Orbium Gin, sweet potato and cacao liqueur) to the Corn Colada (Bacardi Reserva Ocho Rum, corn, butter, lime and egg white).

The decor is suitably sophisticated, with lots of velvet, mid-century light fixtures and peach drapes

The decor is suitably sophisticated, with numerous velvet, mid-century lighting fixtures and peach drapes

Menus are presented in a glossy magazine 'menu-zine' format Flip to the first page of the menu and you're presented with a cornucopia of unconventional tipples

Menus are presented in a glossy magazine ‘menu-zine’ format. Flip to the primary page and also you’re presented with a cornucopia of unconventional tipples

Above is Ailbhe's cocktail - the 'Soy Milk Punch', a medley of Japanese Ki No Bi gin, soy milk, lychee, oolong tea, and red wine

Above is Ailbhe’s cocktail – the ‘Soy Milk Punch’, a medley of Japanese Ki No Bi gin, soy milk, lychee, oolong tea, and red wine

They do not come low cost, with each drink priced at 28 Singapore dollars (£17) – though alcohol in the town tends to be expensive. To experience the bar on a budget, there is a comfortable hour from 6pm where select cocktails are priced at 18 Singapore dollars (£11).

A waitress points out the drinks which can be longstanding favourites amongst patrons – the Yuzu Whiskey Sour, with bourbon and ‘yuzu marmalade’; the Madame President, featuring orchid and melon liqueur and a ‘Campari lollipop’; and the Crimson Bullet, which is a tequila, mescal, and beetroot mix.

I tell Adrian what I like in a drink (gin based, barely sweet) and he recommends I try the ‘Soy Milk Punch’, a medley of Japanese Ki No Bi gin, soy milk, lychee, oolong tea, and red wine.

It arrives chilled, with a blood-red layer resting on a translucent base. Adrian tells me I shouldn’t mix the 2 layers together, but fairly sip them as one. It gets full marks from me – you get an initial hit of spiced red wine followed by a dose of sweet, floral syrup.

To experience the bar on a budget, there's a happy hour from 6pm where cocktails are priced at 18 Singapore dollars (£11)

To experience the bar on a budget, there is a comfortable hour from 6pm where cocktails are priced at 18 Singapore dollars (£11)

Describing her cocktail, Ailbhe (above) says: 'You get an initial hit of spiced red wine followed by a dose of sweet, floral syrup'

Describing her cocktail, Ailbhe (above) says: ‘You get an initial hit of spiced red wine followed by a dose of sweet, floral syrup’ 

The bar can be known for its punch bowls, which supply 15 to twenty servings a pop. The Chatham Artillery punch bowl, for example, priced at an eye-watering 330 Singapore dollars (£198), is a mix of yuzu-infused bourbon, rum, cognac, green tea, and Louis Roederer Champagne. Wines, beers and non-alcoholic cocktails are also on offer, and the bar bottles up certain cocktails to take home.

Drinks are paired with little complimentary dishes of chicken-flavoured crisps, while sharing-style plates of pistachio and hummus dip or blue crab with smoked leek are also on the menu.

As I leave, the atmosphere is amping up and the tables are full. Since being named the very best bar in Asia, Adrian reveals that Jigger and Pony hasn’t seen an enormous surge in business, however it stays a favorite amongst Singaporeans – and a hidden gem for travellers.

The World’s Best Bar Awards says that Jigger and Pony ‘has all the time done things a bit in a different way’. I’m inclined to agree. The drinks are imaginative, the staff are experts, and the setting is suave as will be.

The most effective bar in Asia? That I am unable to confirm, however it’s definitely value going out of your solution to visit.

Finnair flies from Heathrow to Helsinki as much as five times a day, and from Helsinki to Singapore every day. A return flight from London Heathrow to Singapore starts from £578 in economy class, £1,201 in premium economy and £2,595 in business class. Visit www.finnair.com/gb-en. 

The World's Best Bar Awards says that Jigger and Pony 'has always done things a bit differently'

The World’s Best Bar Awards says that Jigger and Pony ‘has all the time done things a bit in a different way’

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