Where to Drink: Flagship, Singapore’s Rock-and-Roll Whisk(e)y Bar

Flagship in Singapore. Courtesy Flagship.
Flagship in Singapore. Courtesy Flagship.

Singapore is a drinking town. With an exploding mixology scene and an ever-expanding roster of distinctive, exciting bars, it’s a guaranteed good time for any craft cocktail fan.

Some of these establishments are sufficiently sophisticated that you feel the need to be dressed for the occasion. But some, while impressive in their own right, are quite a bit lower key. Husband-and-wife team Indra Kantono and Gan Guoyi are the proprietors of five Singapore establishments, including Jigger & Pony, one of the city’s pioneer cocktail bars. If you’re a whiskey fan? It’s their rock-and-roll inspired whiskey bar Flagship you should visit.

“The vibe at Flagship is casual and convivial, accompanied by a killer soundtrack,” says Kantono. “It’s a great fit in the neighborhood for anyone seeking a quality tipple without the fuss. Just a solid old-fashioned cocktail bar.”

There are more than 200 whiskies on Flagship’s list—many of them independent bottlings or limited releases, and around a third of them American. On the back bar, whiskies are helpfully labeled with prices, making the bottle display itself a sort of living menu.

Flagship takes the Old Fashioned as its signature cocktail, offering several renditions of the classic, as well as the option to make an Old Fashioned with any whiskey (or spirit) on the list. “Guests usually starts with a whisky cocktail!” says Kantono. “Beyond that, Flagship is at its core a craft cocktail bar, and we encourage guests to enjoy cocktails with one of the many whiskies available.”

While liquor taxes, and thus drink prices, are quite steep, Singapore is an extremely friendly spirits market—any bottle, whether purchased through a distributor or bought off the shelf in Louisville and carried back to the country, can be legally sold on-premise. So many bars in Singapore have incredible spirit selections, as long as you’re willing to pay.

Cocktails may be the focus, but with its expansive liquor selection, Flagship offers flights, too—currently, delightfully punny airline-themed flights, including “Air France” (three selections from the French distillery Glann Ar Mor) and “EVA Air” (Kavalan whiskies from Taiwan).

And, most recently, an Elijah Craig flight that was a particular favorite of Kantono’s. “I’m really digging the Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig right now,” he says. “I also recently did a flight of the Elijah Craig 20YO and the 23YO. There isn’t much left, though!”

Carey Jones is a San Francisco-based food, spirits, and travel writer. She is the co-author, with her husband John D. McCarthy, of Be Your Own Bartender, to be released in November 2018. She frequently contributes to Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, and many others, and formerly served as managing editor at the James Beard Award-winning food site Serious Eats.