An evening at an upscale restaurant is always something of an event: One that entails getting all dressy (and sometimes putting on airs.) And while an evening out is a welcome reprieve from the dreariness of lockdown, sometimes all one isn't to see and be seen, but a quiet night out at a sophisticated bar.
Newly opened bar Club 5 brings with it glossy, stylised interiors with none of the pretences. Located in the historic Parkroyal on Beach Road, the Roaring Twenties-inspired bar is filled with accents that would make Gatsby himself envious: Dramatic Art Deco doors, plush velvet chairs, and sultry music dominate the amber-lit space. But despite its sophisticated interiors — and carefully curated menu of reinterpreted local favourites as bar bites and cocktails — the restaurant brings with it an air of laidback intimacy.
While Club 5's interiors might take a leaf from Jay Gatsby's book, its menu brings with it a distinctly Singaporean flavour. The menu is segmented into three themed sections that are inspired by the storied areas surrounding Parkroyal's Beach Road perch: Bugis Junction, which brings with a slew of heady, smoky drinks, Arab Street, which features drinks led by spices both local and exotic, and Beach Road itself, which draws on the area's colonial heritage.
The Boogie Street (left) and the Nasi Lema'rgarita.
Expect to see creations like Boogie Street, a smoky combination of London dry gin sour, mezcal and agave syrup, all served in a vintage couple glass. And despite the pointed name, the Nasi Lema'rgarita presents a layered — and surprisingly tasty — take on the traditional dish. The drink brings together homemade coconut tequila with spicy pandan syrup, which itself is infused with chili padi that's made in house. Served on the side is a dish of peanuts and anchovies: Each sip of the cocktail is meant to be paired with a salty, crunchy bite for a multi-sensory experience. Teetotallers aren't left out, either: Each of the three menus come with a range of non-alcoholic cocktails, like Calm Waters, a refreshing, spiced blend of Thai ginger beer, galangal and pineapple.
As for bar bites, Club 5 offers a range of addictive dishes, like the wagyu satay with a hazelnut dip, deep-fried soft-shell crab with chilli crab sauce and lamb ribs with mint sauce. Be sure to get a basket or two of their seafood crackers to go with your cocktails: The homemade balado sambal alone is worth the visit.
The (very addictive) deep-fried soft shell crabs.
The bar is helmed by head bartender Ong Jun Han (formerly of Ah Sam Colds Drinks Stall, and the 2019 winner of Campari's annual bartender competition) who is assisted by a tight crew of two other bartenders and floor staff. When we visited, the close-knit team were fresh off their second shot of the coronavirus vaccine, but were ever chipper for to chat and swap stories. The hotel's general manager himself, Paolo Campillo, is said to step in and wait on tables when service picks up.
"We don't want to make themed drinks for the sake of making them themed," says head bartender Ong of the bar's creative menu. "They have to taste good as well — not just be for presentation's sake."
The bar had plans to open as a dance club — a nod to the space's origins as a social dance club in the 80s — but the pandemic has temporarily shunted these plans. Still, it's quite something to imagine what the space will look like with ardent dancers in place of heavy velvet armchairs.
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