ATAP Bar 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 8/10
Singapore has become like a second home to me. Mum was born and bred there, and that’s where my immediate family on my mum’s side reside. The last time I visited was 3 years ago. This time, I was in town for my cousin’s wedding, and would have only 5 days to eat/drink as much of my favourite foods as possible, as well as show ShakerFries around as it was his first time in S’pore. Challenge accepted!
I did a lot of research of where to go out before hand, and came across a cool place called Atap Bar on Instagram. Now, it’s not what you think! After shisha joints became banned in Singapore, a lot of young muslims found it difficult to find a place to ‘hang out’ during the evenings. Enter Atap bar. Atap bar (atap meaning ‘roof’) is the first halal, speasy rooftop bar, serving the best mocktails in town! It’s only been open for a few months, is entirely Muslim friendly, and all it’s drinks are concocted using herbs, fruits and spices with a local twist. I read online that it can become fairly busy, and as I knew a big party of us would be visiting, I decided to book before hand from the UK for a Monday night.
When we arrived on Arab Street, almost all the restaurants were closed or closing, after all, it was a Monday night (10.30pm). I read that the way to enter Atap bar, was to ask downstairs for the ‘secret entrance’, so I popped into ‘Working Title’ (a halal cafe FYI), and asked if they could let me in to Atap bar. They had a set of keys and unlocked the door to a narrow corridor. I was seriously confused at first. The signage wasn’t very clear but luckily the man who unlocked the door kindly told us that Atap was located on the fifth floor.
My parents and The Adopted One were staring at me by the time we climbed to the third floor. ‘Where have you brought us?’ my mum asked. It did look a bit strange, as on each floor there was either a hostel or some other sort of strange establishment. I was starting to doubt that I was in the right place, but then we reached the fifth floor, and it was like we had been transported to a completely different world.
Straight away we were greeted warmly by the beautiful Muse, who showed us to our reserved table on the terrace. It was stunning. Suddenly we were surrounded by brightly lit skyscrapers, and had a breathtaking view of the city. The rooftop bar wasn’t busy, and so Muse was kind enough to show us around this cosy establishment.
All the herbs and spices used in the mocktails were grown in house on the far wall of the terrace. The decor and theme of the bar was centered around old school Singapore, something that my mum could relate to and understand more than any of us having grown up in Singapore. The walls were brightly painted, and parts of it were decorated with old straw mats which were used for prayer and to line the floors when eating back in the day. At the back of the small bar, was another room, decorated with old family photographs and swinging floral chairs, with a beautiful view of the Sultan Mosque.
After having a look around, we had a look at the menu and chatted to Muse and the manager Alexy. The menu again was centered around Singaporean drinks and flavours, and each drink had its own story or Singaporean folk legend associated with it, all of which were explained in the menu. Muse asked us all what flavours we usually like, and what perfume scents we prefer. It seemed like these were strange questions, but this was actually so that she could match us to our perfect mocktail from the menu!
The name of this drink was from a 1964 classic Singaporean movie, based on 3 brothers with 3 distinct personalities. For that reason, Tiga Abdul is a mocktail which encompasses a range of three main flavours: sweet, sour, and spicy. It’s ingredients include mango juice, chilli, ginger beer, lemon juice, egg whites and demerara. It sounds like a strange combination, but this zesty drink had a beautifully spicy kick right at the end, and was definitely different to anything we had tasted before.
Out of all the mocktails we had ordered, this was the ‘play it safe’ mocktail. That being said, this did differ from your classic Cuban mojito, as this drink instead incorporated some local fruity twists, encompassing elements of lychee, probiotic tea, gula melaka, fresh lime, mint leaves and soda. The overall taste of this mocktail was sweet, minty and mildly sour, and was generally liked by everyone.
Raffles @ Geylang Serai
This drink also contained some sweet, sour and mildly minty flavours, including ingredients such as elderflower presse, lemongrass paste, mint leaves and ginger ale. Named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who founded Singapore in 1819, this drink is based on a famous and well-liked English Victorian elderflower drink, which is said to have been introduced by Sir Thomas Raffles to the Geylang Serai settlement, which was once filled with lemongrass plantations. For this reason, the two main ingredients of this drink includes a cultural fusion of lemongrass and Elderflower, and consequently tasted extremely fragrant.
This was one of my favourite drinks, and is based on a Indianised kingdom which lasted from 1293 to 1500. It is designed for those with a more adventurous palette, as it encompasses a fusion of several spices. The main ingredients used in this drink, were based on those spices used during the Majapahit rule: chai tea, cinnamon, star of anise, chai tea, nutmeg, and lemon juice. This drink was served to the table with a sprig of thyme and a large glass cover. The waitress used a lighter to light the sprig of thyme before covering the drink. This was to allow the rosemary fragrance to infuse, injecting a fragrant, smokey kick into the mocktail. This drink definitely was an acquired taste, but I loved it, as it was sour and somewhat bitter, but also had a hint of sweetness.
Named after a traditional folk song, Ewah Blue was quite a fruity drink, with a sour tinge added by the sparkling passion fruit, and a hint of mint. I wasn’t overly blown away by this drink, and I think it was my least favourite purely because it lacked an overall ‘punch’ of flavour. The main ingredients of this drink were passion fruit, fresh lime, muscovado, mint leaves and sparkling passion fruit.
Di Tanjong Katong
This drink is named after a romantic Malay folklore song. It’s flavourful, sweet and sour ice blended mocktail. Much to my uncle’s dismay, this drink did appear to be quite girly, and was a bright shade of (unsurprisingly) blue. This was however, one of my favourite mocktails, and it included a variety of fruity, tropical flavours. The main ingredients included lemon juice, rainbow sprinkles, peach, passion fruit, tropical fruit juice and orange syrup.
Straits of Temasek
This drink was not too dissimilar to the classic pina colada but with a ‘twist’. As well as encompassing the classic flavours of coconut and pineapple, this drink also included chendol jelly, gula melaka and nata de coco, giving it a Singaporean (or should I say Tamasek) twist. I would say this mocktail was up there as one of my favourites, purely because I love pina colada and I also love chendol, so the flavours of this drink were just perfect for me!
Saving the best until last, this is Atap bar’s best seller, and also my favourite from the 8 mocktails which we tasted. This mocktail is named after an irregular verse form of traditional malay poetry. It consists of two main elements: an overturned bottle of butterscotch beer and ice cream shake. It tasted sweet and buttery, similar to a cream soda, and was not only beautifully presented but tasted heavenly! The main ingredients of this mocktail were apple cider vinegar, demerara, cinnamon, fresh lemon juice, butterscotch beer, and vanilla ice cream.
Once we received our drinks, we were offered a selection of all school board games along with a famous childhood iced gem biscuit snack. Mum’s face lit up as she took a trip down memory lane, and in the end we decided to play the ‘Happy Families’ card game, the rules of which one of the waiters kindly explained to us.
The service at Atap overall was amazing, and the atmosphere and the views were spectacular. We even got to meet the mixologist who invented the recipes for the mocktails on the menu, and had the chance to give some feedback (my suggestion was to create a drink based on my all time favourite drink, Iced Milo!). All of us agreed that the concept of Atap bar was novel. After tasting some of the sickly sweet mocktails served up in fully halal restaurants in the UK, Atap bar really provided a new perspective and definition to the term ‘mocktail’, and made us realise that a non alcoholic drink can be more than just a bunch of syrup and soda. I really hope a similar concept of a ‘dry bar’ is adopted somewhere in London. The overall vibe from the staff was so overwhelmingly warm and we all had such a great time. The prices were fair, with each mocktail costing around $13/14 Singapore dollars.
If you are ever in Singapore, be sure to check out Atap Bar! It really is a hidden gem. Also, remember to pre-book to avoid disappointment!
Address: 48 Arab St, Singapore 199745
Phone number: +65 6298 8721