close shave bar

New bar Close Shave brings you up and personal with sleek bartending in a barbershop

What do you go to a barber for? For a haircut? A shave? Or perhaps, a drink? On the off-chance that the last possibility appeals most to your sensibilities, introductions to the clandestine new speakeasy at Boat Quay, Close Shave, are in order.


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Singapore’s bar scene currently seems to have an affinity with hidden bars. Some hidden in plain sight. Others clandestinely obscured from sight. Many behind guileful facades of mama shops and vending machines.

Inserting itself into the third niche, Close Shave is tucked away on the second floor of a shophouse. The red and blues of a lighted barber pole guide the way, marking the spot along North Bridge Road, faintly illuminating a dark stairwell that ends on the second floor.

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The stairs were originally meant to access The Mezz by Sultans of Shave —a renowned local barber outfit— before it officially expanded its dealings and converted parts of its real estate into a more serious drinking den.

Divided into two distinct sections separated by a common corridor, the barber took up the left while the bar filled up the right with trimmings and ambience reminiscent of a Ginza-style speakeasy.

close shave review

Here, everything flows through the counter, intimately sized and surrounded by tall bar seats filled with pensively sipping guests, while the bartenders twirl their spoons and shake their tins with precision.

Commanding the operation is Head Bartender Ian Ng, an adroit professional who had cut his teeth at some of the top Japanese-style bars in Singapore including Last Word and Shin Gi Tai. 

Clean & Tidy

ian ng bartender

Close Shave’s mixology is worked onto a canvas of hairstyling as the team weaves hairy details into the debut menu, an anthology of some of the most inimitable do’s that have been immortalised by popular culture.

Names such as David Beckham, Marge Simpson, and Lara Croft occupy the ten personalities featured but how would one choose their poison?

close shave abbey road

That’s expounded in the introductory spiel, which leads to a rather unique way to alleviate decision paralysis — through a whimsical personality quiz on a QR code.

As decided by the arcane personality quiz, my first order manifested as the “Abbey Road” ($24), Close Shave’s homage to the scruffy mullet rocked by Beatle Paul McCartney.

close shave tomb raider cocktail

English influences come through in this drink as its vibrant and tangy profile carries faint scents of black tea, along with accents of strawberry jam that suggest memories of scones. 

Lara Croft’s ponytail then takes the stage with the “Tomb Raider” ($24) which pays tribute with a sexy amalgamation of dry and sweet vermouths that combine with chocolate for sparks of complexity and an underlying robustness.

The classics cut it

best negronis singapore

At Close Shave, the original creations represent panache but the classics embody finesse — at Ian’s hands, many Classic Cocktails (from S$20) come to life with elegance.

Sagacious barhoppers would understand that Ian’s tenure at Shin Gi Tai brings a certain kind of assurance for quality Negronis — it’s a bar with a legendary reputation for its signature drink.

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As expected, Close Shave’s rendition easily ranks amongst the best Negronis in Singapore with the smoothest most bodacious cocktail, where the Campari and house-blended sweet vermouth’s idiosyncracies are flawlessly balanced.

Beyond just Negronis, Ian’s Japanese bartending roots also ensure a more-than-solid litany of classics — with icons such as the Godfathers, Daiquiris, and New York Sour also textbook in execution.

close shave classic cocktails

The New York Sour, in particular, came exceptionally well crafted — plush in mouthfeel, elegantly balanced, and stained with just the right kind of port piquancy. 

So if you’re an admirer of Japanese bartending ethos, Close Shave will satisfy the demands for deftly executed classics. Or if you’re an enthusiast for novelty, the concept might very well tickle your fancy.

Either way, Close Shave is a solid new addition to the bar scene and a hidden gem that will charm barhoppers with its sleek bartending and intimate ambience.

Close Shave


  • Address: 13 N Canal Rd, #02-01, Singapore 048826
  • Hours: (Mon–Sat) 6pm–12am

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