Enviably located at the Customs House along the waterfront, this 130-seater modern Italian restaurant-bar boasts a spectacular view of the architectural behemoth that is Marina Bay Sands and of fireworks that go up over the promenade on special occasions like National Day and New Year’s Eve. The pavilion it inhabits is almost half a century old, and they’ve retained the tall vaulted ceilings for an airy and relaxed atmosphere. Dotted with lightbulbs, the interiors feature sleek but casual dark wooden panels and caramel coloured seats.
With an all day dining concept – including brunch on the weekends – it makes sense that Caffe Fernet has more than a few tipples designed for daytime imbibing. Perfect for Singapore’s tropical climate is the fun and uncomplicated Coconut Frose (S$15), an alcoholic slushie made with gin, coconut, pineapple, and prosecco. What you read is exactly what you’ll taste, we just feel the need to mention that it’s available by the pitcher (S$68), making it great for sharing – as are the spritzes like the Bee’s Spritz (S$18/S$85). The boozy mix of gin, amaro, and prosecco gets a lovely lift from the Taiwanese pepper and lemon infused honey that’s also a natural sweetener.
Want something refreshing but with more depth? Try the Chai Sbagliato (S$17/S$78), where chai-infused vermouth (just for 24 hours) joins Campari and prosecco in this cocktail that’s inspired by India’s most popular beverage. The finish is rather short, and the last flavour that lingers is a combination of Campari’s signature bitterness and the spices in the chai.
One can’t visit an Italian bar without having at least one Negroni, and we made it count with the La Viola Negroni (S$22). The vibrant hue is achieved by using purple sweet potato that’s blended with vodka and brown sugar, then strained before going into the stirring glass with Campari and Botanist gin. The leftover dregs are dehydrated and used to garnish the drink, thereby also minimising the waste that goes into this cocktail. Those looking to taste sweet potato might be slightly disappointed as it comes across more as an aroma (and the colour, of course).
We rounded things off with the Batanga (S$22), Caffe Fernet’s tequila take on the Cuba Libre – but there’s no cola here. Instead, the bar team infuses the agave spirit with ingredients like coriander, cinnamon, ground coffee, citrus peels, and nutmeg to achieve that distinct flavour of cola. The herbaceous quality of tequila managed to peek through the spices, making this one of the more distinctive drinks at the bar.
We should probably mention it’s worth eating at Caffe Fernet. Aside from their signature Mafaldine Cacio e Pepe (S$26), we recommend the Calabrian chili heated Ahi Tuna Tartare (S$21) and the aromatic Chicken Piccata (S$36) if you’re hungry. For something smaller, the prosciutto-wrapped Grissini Breadsticks (S$19) with goat’s milk butter are incredibly addictive.
Happy hour starts early here (3pm-7.30pm), with cocktails starting from S$12 per class and $56 per pitcher. Wines go for S$13 a glass.