21 Oct 2015
It wasn’t too long ago that the ’80s was considered retro. But times have changed. Enter Fresh!, a ’90s ‘retro’ bar. Why this era?
According to co-owner Shawn Kishore, 29, “going to a bar for a drink in the late ’90s and early 2000s wasn’t a trendy affair. It was really about enjoying the moment, dancing to the music and having a kick-ass time.” Maybe his older brother told him that. Like many of the young clientele and staff here, Shawn would have been only 13 in 1999. He says the vibe they’re going for here is “kinda like the old Phuture, or Double O” but in a more intimate, sit-down setting.
This cocktail bar at the second floor rooftop terrace of The Sultan boutique hotel is under new F&B collective, Bespoken Concepts, run by Shawn and his partner, Benedict Wong, 29. Both used to be consultants for cocktail bars like the Japanese-style The Horse’s Mouth.
THE LOOK: Think a stuffy old hotel bar that got taken over by a bunch of madcap, nostalgic hipsters. The blaring soundtrack ranges from songs by Britney Spears to gangsta rappers. There's no official dance floor, but the place is roomy enough for you to shake your buns, which you may feel like doing (we did). We like its irreverent, slightly showy atmosphere, and so do most of its customers: exec types in their 20s and 30s, and a few dazed hotel guests. The space preserves most of the room's heritage trappings with the exception of a cartoony mural over the small island bar by local street artist Zero, depicting iconic ’90s pop culture icons like Super Mario and Singapore’s The Ra Ra Show. Also, the menu is done up like a primary school exercise book. How twee. Shawn says to look out for karaoke nights and pop-up barbecues at the bar’s chill al fresco area.
21 Oct 2015
Drinks are devised and served by head bartender and operations manager, Mike Cheong, formerly from W Hotel. The cocktails we tried (all $22) are mainly rebooted classics. The Xin Jia Po Sling (above left) swaps out sickly-sweet Grenadine with hibiscus syrup. In it is also garnet sloe gin (gin infused with plum-like sloe berries), cointreau, herbal Benedictine D.O.M, pineapple juice and, er, Tiger Beer.
The cocktail is frothy, creamy, pleasantly tart and mildly sweet, with a nice malty tinge. But it lacks the fruit-forward flavour of the classic Singapore Sling (we think the fresh and fruity version at Flight bar in MBS is a better reboot). Plus point: the cute Wang Wang rice cracker garnish provides a crunchy, salty-sweet accompaniment. The pre-bottled Kopi Negroni (above right) is a mix of gin, bitter Campari and coffee-infused vermouth. It’s a light, orangey number that’s not bad, but it’s slightly overwhelmed by tart coffee notes.
21 Oct 2015
There’s a very limited snack menu. Like the Chilli Crab Dip ($15), canned crabmeat tossed in a bland but spicy sauce, and served with crackers. It’s mostly heat with very little flavour. Stick to the drinks.
#02-01 The Sultan, 101 Jln Sultan, S199002. Tel: 8828-7084. Open daily except Sun. Mon-Sat 7pm-2am. Last orders 11.30pm (Mon-Thur); 1.30am (Fri & Sat). www.ohsofresh.com.sg