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Long-awaited cocktail bar Barbary Coast is now open

The dual-concept bar inspired by the Californian Gold Rush is one of the most ambitious openings this past year.

Every modern cocktail bar starts with a story. In the case of the recently-opened Barbary Coast, it’s the California Gold Rush of 1849 – where one drank to celebrate a windfall, or to console oneself on a fruitless day. Consequently, two types of establishments arose to meet market demand: the deadfall, a cheap, no-frills place where getting drunk was the main order of business – never mind the quality of alcohol or ambiance; and, at the other end of the spectrum, the ballroom.

(Related: Barrel-Aged Cocktails)

After the story, you sprinkle on some pedigree. The two main talents behind Barbary Coast are Celia Schoonraad and Michael Callahan, both industry veterans that have close to four decades of experience between them. Callahan’s also a prime figure in Singapore’s cocktail scene, having played important roles in the founding of bar powerhouses like 28 Hong Kong Street.

The concept

Barbary Coast is split into two concepts, with Deadfall occupying the ground floor, and Ballroom upstairs. 

  • Deadfall


    Deadfall

    Named for those above mentioned no-frills bars. The vision here is, thankfully, methanol poisoning-free and far beyond. The main draw here is a series of very well-priced pre-batched cocktails, sold by the names of colours the same way historical deadfalls did. While the original 19th century versions of these drinks were often nothing more than sweetened, colored alcohol, BC's are miles (and over a century) ahead. The "Pink" is a bone-dry, strawberry redolent vodka soda; while their "Red" features Buffalo Trace bourbon, beer syrup. Angostura, and beer.  To let the premixes sit out in Deadfall's alfresco bar, most of these are formulated to be shelf stable, and produced using the lab-grade equipment they've got hidden in the back – the "Green" features coriander Arquitecto tequila, Cointreau redistilled with grapefruit, watermelon syrup, and something called "stablised lime". The food also requires mentioning. The very, very good house nachos come with bottomless cheese; while their TTW Sando – "Tater Tot Waffle" sandwiching pastrami or smoked ham – is a dangerous siren call for the inebriated. Bonus: they're dog-friendly at Deadfall; and Callahan's pooch sometimes hangs out there, 

16 North Canal Road. Website

(Related: Meet Paul Gabie, the man shaping Asia’s best bars)