What: Smoke & Mirrors
Where: #06-01 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road
Opening hours: Sundays to Thursdays 12pm to 12.30am; Fridays and Saturdays 12pm to 2am.
Marina Bay Sands glistens in the distance, towering over the attractions that hug the promenade. At our feet, football players scurry around the Padang, as the dusking sky casts a gorgeous palette across the horizon. Sinking deeper into our seats at the alfresco terrace at Smoke & Mirrors (owned by the Park Hotel Group), we wonder what took us so long to visit this bar.
As far as watering holes go, there is nothing quite like this in the civic district. Although it alludes to the heritage and cultural significance of the iconic landmark that is the National Gallery — previously the Supreme Court and City Hall — the bar’s design elements, with its rich copper and wood hues, stand in stark contrast to the classical architecture of the building. The centre of attention is the curvaceous island bar in a highly reflective metallic finish, behind which famed local bartender Yugnes Susela and his team carefully assemble drinks.
Susela’s enviable pedigree has seen him train and work in veritable outfits alongside other bar luminaries. It comes as no surprise then that the libation list here is highly favourable to cocktail geeks. There is a handcrafted section proffering original concoctions such as Papaya Daiquiri (Caribbean white rum, fresh papaya and lime, gula Melaka sugar, and charcoal olive oil) and Milo Haze (Barbados 5 Year rum, vermouth, sherry, house-made Milo tincture). But there is also a collection of more abstract drinks translated from the gallery’s art exhibitions — expect tipples like Painting Class, 1957 (pisco, strawberry cordial, edible chocolate paint), and Spring Mountains in Red and Ink, 1986 (gin, lemon, chartreuse, aperol).
The space often plays host to corporate functions and events, so call ahead to ensure that you’ll get a table. The alfresco terrace provides a panoramic view, but if you like a bit more sophistication and privacy for your associates, ask for the indoor seats.
Best bits: A great way to see the city — and its past — over a drink or three.