Sundowners, cocktails and unparalleled views of Singapore, all at this rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors inside the historic National Gallery Singapore? Count us in!
The land of landmarks, a cityscape dotted with skyscrapers, a skyline always ready for its next cover-worthy shot, an indecisive weather oscillating between light pours and tropical sunshine and a curious crowd waiting to discover the next gem in the world of food and drinks – Singapore is just the right kind of overwhelming destination that hides surprises on every turn and street. But lucky for the gourmands, you don’t have to look too hard for this tipple-friendly gem that stands right in the nexus of the central business district of Singapore, drenched in an air of panache, history and lots of art.
Dubbed Smoke & Mirrors, this rooftop bar is elegantly nested on one of the most iconic buildings in the city, National Gallery Singapore overlooking the most riveting views of the cosmopolitan city, including the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and the F1 circuit on St. Andrews Road in front of the gallery that hosted Singapore Grand Prix 2022!
Through the museum, inside the bar…
It’s the mind-rousing jaunt through the National Gallery Singapore that makes the visit to Smoke & Mirrors, one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 on the sixth level all the more intriguing. The museum is laced with the city’s history and socio-political heritage inside and outside, built on the combined grounds of Singapore’s two prime icons, City Hall and erstwhile Supreme Court. Free flowing echoes and visuals of Singapore’s national art and collected Southeast Asian modern art resounds at every step of the gallery.
On one end, glistening white marble floors direct attention to the sculptural and abstract masterpieces, while on the other end, perforated ceilings that mimic a light cane canvas navigate the eyes skywards. The destination, however, is Smoke & Mirrors where the mixologists reminisce the gallery’s artworks and paint it through their art of cocktails. Well, not precisely but abstractly, yes.
The Real Art of Drinking
This special cocktail rendezvous is titled, aptly so, The Real Art of Drinking Volume II. As the tour guide described it to us, the cocktail menu is branched into eight categories. Each category features a pair of cocktails guided by principles of art. The concept interprets art pieces through cocktails, paying homage to the artists and their works through a sundry ingredients and spirits that are poured into the glass one after the other. And that’s how, you drink art inside the most notable museum in Singapore.
The Real Art of Drinking Volume II comes in form of a booklet-like menu that opens up to sixteen different concoctions, each revisiting a certain artwork displayed inside the National Gallery Singapore. After sauntering through the spaces and introducing myself with the artworks, I called for a couple of rounds of cocktails, more out of curiosity of how art takes form of a drink than actually craving one, a first of such realisations for me.
Cocktails that taste like art
First was Kaleidoscope, a scintillating red, fruity-looking but punchy-on-the-palate drink made with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Tempranillo Wine, Blackberries, Lemon Juice and Sugar. The cocktail inspired by artist Choy Weng Yang’s work Horizontals I, an oil on canvas painting that deep dives into the charm of multitude of colours and the emotions they convey.
Next in line was Moves like Jigger, a truly tropical-looking drink served in a white coconut shell crafted with Bacardi Reserva Ocho, Bacardi Coconut Rum, Orgeat Pineapple, citrus, bitters and longan. The artwork it is inspired from and simulates is Rhythm of Dance by Ho Ho Ying, which in a close and keen glance depicts a blurred bunch of faces melding into one another draped in an all-white hue, dancing to a silent but joyous rhythym. And this is what the cocktail befittingly carries in it too, a dance of zesty flavours that lingers on in the memory.
What was a rather exciting cocktail in the queue next, called Cha Cha Duet, was served in pairs of two, just like the painting it drew influences from – Tea Drinkers by modernist painter Anita Magsaysay-Ho from Philippines. Her art portrays two ladies sipping on two cups of teas, a cross narration of quiet contemplation as well as a sense of harmony, all of which spills into the dual cocktails seamlessly, one made of Haku Vodka Matcha Distillate and Roku Gin and the second made of Chivas Mizunara Blended Scotch.
If this piqued your curiosity and a trip to Singapore’s most spectacular experiences is on your cards soon, you’ll be thrilled to know that Smoke & Mirrors has kickstarted collaborative guided tours with National Gallery Singapore to bring the visitors closer to the world of art, cocktails and a shared love for creativity that keeps surprising.