singapore cocktail festival

Singapore Cocktail Festival 2023 Blog: A Festival Village Retrospect

Last weekend, the three-day-long Singapore Cocktail Festival unfolded right at the foot of the iconic Marina Bay Sands, condensed into a 7,400sq m tented festival village made to house guest shifts and brand showcases from all quarters of the world.

singapore cocktail festival 2023

Its ninth edition saw the Singapore Cocktail Festival fight back against the inertia of the global pandemic and finally return to its usual spectacle in 2023 with its iconic village bonanza, the biggest yet.

The bustling event had built up an almost-decade-long story, and every alcoholic in the region knows a pilgrimage down to the village is a mandatory affair — it’s probably the most alcohol-induced conviviality per square metre you’d find on our little red dot.

For a city obsessed with opulence and glitz, the Singapore Cocktail Festival Village was a rare opportunity to see everything stripped down to the bare essence. Just drinks, vibes, and no fancy speakeasy setups.

It was also the chance to see the creme de la creme of the region in action without splashing out on plane tickets. Over 3 days, 6 prestigious bars took to the Singapore Cocktail Festival 2023 headliner bar to strut their stuff, in collaboration with Singapore’s most popular bars.

Day one

jerrold khoo

Singapore Cocktail Fest 2023 day one didn’t start off on a great note. The overwhelming after-dinner crowds piled up into long lines waiting to redeem the tickets at the front booth, burning through quite a bit of time that could, or ought to, be spent drinking.

Once inside though, the night-market-like chaos was just right up my alley. After running into familiar faces (i.e. talented chef and videographer Son) and taking a cursory tour, I headed deeper inside towards the airconditioned main tent

jungle ballroom singapore cocktail festival

At the entrance, my gaze was quickly diverted to one particular booth, the Monkey 47 booth, where former MO Bar head honcho Adrian Besa was stationed slinging out easy-drinking, botanically-inclined tipples.

I grabbed a cup, said my hellos, and moved on to explore the main area which was brimming with excited faces waiting to get their drinks from brands such as Suntory, Jura, and Brass Lion Distillery.

stay gold flamingo fizzy twiggy

Then I also quickly darted to the back to get join in the fervour as Amoy Street’s golden boy Stay Gold Flamingo joined arms with ReCraft from Manila.

We had larger-than-life Jerrold shaking up a storm while sporting some snazzy shades while Jiawei did the more dainty work of meticulously adorning the Fizzy Twiggy with bubbles — which tasted just as good as it did at the actual location. 

Day Two

After a relatively chill first day, my second day started off a bit more potent with a slew of drinks including a funky Montenegroni from the Distilled Spirits booth and my favourite of the whole festival — a surprisingly sumptuous Tomato Suntory Kakubin Highball which came with the most tasteful umami contrast to the lighter highball base.

After knocking back some more poison from Mr Black and a quick smattering of smooth and punchy Bourbon expressions from Elijah Craig, I then proceeded to the headliner bar to get in on the hubbub generated by the collaboration between Republic Bar and Penicillin from Hong Kong (headed by Agung, which some may remember from his The Old Man days).

republic bar singapore cocktail festival

I enjoyed both Penicillin’s White Penicillin for its lush, smokey depth and also Republic Bar’s vibrant Tropicana where vibrant tropical flavours from pineapple, lemongrass and coconut were enlivened with a distinct tincture of Cocchi.

An untimely downpour forced me to station myself under a parasol for the rest of the night but the drinks —and a mighty delicious burger from Employees Only— kept the mood high.

Day Three

analogue maybe sammy

The final day was touch-and-go, with a quick round at the village before heading off for a dinner event. After getting a Suntory Kakubin Highball (credits to brand ambassador Andrew), I waited for the Singapore Cocktail Festival’s final headliner guest shift of 2023 to start.

It was time for Analogue Initiative and Sydney’s Maybe Sammy to take over and the quirky ensemble started it off with a deluge of bubbles wafting into the air — you know the fun times were coming, and the Native hit the spot.

maybe sammy singapore cocktail festival

It was just one drink because I had to pop out and greet some other friends around the village, with Papa Doble folks making a wonderful Ribena-inspired Sunset and Junior The Pocket Bar throwing in some local flair with their Bandung Ais

At the end of the day, the Singapore Cocktail Festival village was, and always has been, more for the festivities than cutting-edge mixology. Let’s be honest, most casual drinkers would prefer their tipples served at an exquisite bar, in proper glassware, and not frugal disposable cups.

But hey, it didn’t matter to me. Plastic cups, decent drinks, and great company turned out to be just the recipe for one hell of a time.

This was a three-day-only event that passed but you can check out other activations that the Singapore Cocktail Festival will be holding around the city.

*This wasn’t an invited tasting, technically. But tickets came from a CityNomads giveaway and a few free drinks were spared from industry friends, so it wasn’t fully paid.

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