Idlewild at InterContinental Singapore was one of the most anticipated bar openings of 2019, and they didn’t disappoint at The Bar Awards Singapore 2019. Their good showing at the party included coming in top four in the Best Hotel Bar category (which ultimately went to Manhattan) and runner-up for Best New Bar (it went home with The Old Man). As they celebrate their first anniversary, their team has gotten stronger with the addition of Danny Dave D’Cecil – the assistant bar manager previously fronted 28 Hong Kong Street and The Monarchy, alongside head honcho Andy Griffiths, who arrived in Singapore from The Speakeasy Group in Australia.
Inspired by trans-Atlantic travel in the 1950s, Idlewild is unabashedly decadent in its design. It’s a stark change when you walk to the unassuming corner adjacent to InterContinental Singapore Lobby Lounge and into the bar. Characterised by plush furnishing and old-world club lighting that adds a dreamy glow, the interior is separated into two distinct sections — the front Parlour and Main Room. While most of the tables in the main room are geared towards live music performances on weekends, raised booths with expensive-looking mother of pearl tables make a good spot for a romantic date.
If booze is your main focus, stop by Idlewild’s Cabinet of Curiosities near the entrance, which sees about 50 rare spirits (and some fascinating trinkets) that you might want to ask Andy about. The travel concept follows through to the cocktail menu as well, where twenty drinks inspired by 10 cities across the Atlantic Ocean await.
We start our journey in Mexico City with Sugarloaf (S$24++), a refreshing but flavourful concoction of pineapple rum and cognac at the base. Shaken with tamarind, lime, and house-fermented spiced tepache (a pineapple favourite in Mexico, the tartness plays off the dark molasses as they use a combination of gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) and brown sugar in the cocktail. A slight saline finish rounds it off nicely.
For the rest of our night, we cross the Atlantic to Dublin for a taste of Dagda’s Harp (S$24++), Idlewild’s take on the classic Penicillin. Although what’s stirred down with Irish whisky here isn’t ginger and honey, we get the overall structure and a more refined taste with local Rachelle the Rabbit mead, creme de cacao, and Peat Monster whisky. For folks who enjoy their gimlets, move south with us to Lisbon, where The Last Crusade ($25++) balances Never Never Triple Juniper Gin with a spiced lime cordial, and black pepper tincture. It’s the sharpest tasting drink we had at Idlewild, but the garnish of salted, dehydrated curry leaves help take the edge off.
The expedition south continues to France; The French Cook is Idlewild’s herbaceous twist on the French 75. Think French Citadelle gin, fresh lemon, Chartreuse Genepi, sparkling wine, and bouquet garni cordial – a classic herb mixture (usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaf) for food in French cuisine. A dash of absinthe and garnish of wormwood jelly kicks thing up on the herbal spectrum another notch.
Those who’d like something other than cocktails, Idlewild has a small, curated selection of white and red wines, and champagnes. For beer, we’d recommend skipping over the Idlewild Golden Ale (S$16++) for one of the imported craft beers on the beverage list instead.
Hungry? Like the cocktail menu, the snacks menu at Idlewild is deliberately international. They’ve got a new Beetroot Hummus served with bread that is smooth and consistent, neither overly gritty nor earthy in flavour. The Classic Fish & Chips (S$18++) will keep those pangs away – they use good cod too, and feel free to ask for more malt vinegar for a more authentically London experience. For a lighter snack, the Atun Chifa (S$18++) is a well-seasoned yellowfin tuna tartare in soy and sesame and served with crispy wonton skins.