Life in Singapore is stressful, so there’s many occasions when I need to get plastered, even on a tight budget (e.g. stressful deadlines, impossible clients, days ending in the letter “y”). If you’re the same, keep an eye out for the places on this list. The money you save might even cover treatments for your cirrhosis:
BONUS: Cheapass Tip for MoneySmart Readers
I’ve mentioned this in another article, but I’ll explain it again here. There is a possible way to get free drinks if your friends get sloshed enough, and your moral compass is more broken than your liver.
Invite a group of friends out to drink with you – the more the better. Try to make it at least six people. Once the venue is agreed upon, be sure to arrive about 40 minutes late. By then, most people would have ordered a few bottles, a whole beer tower, etc.
You can probably leech off the drinks already ordered, without calling for any yourself. If everyone’s sloshed enough at the end of the night, chances are good that no one will notice. For other money saving tips, you can always stay tuned with us on Facebook.
1. Five Izakaya
Five Izakaya is modeled after Japan’s 300 Yen bars, which are basically just alcohol dispensers with walls. The “five” in Five Izakaya refers to the price of the drinks – you know how everything in Daiso is $2? Same concept here. Virtually every drink in this bar is $5.
There are no gimmicks and no happy hours. It’s Asahi, Shochu, Choya, and various types of wine all going at $5 in the bar – anytime you walk in. Even the snacks are $5, probably because you can’t handle a more complex bill by the time you’re done.
One problem though (at the Collyer Quay Outlet, I can’t speak for the others) is the food. It’s wildly inconsistent, and on some days the chicken tastes like pure mouthfuls of salt. But on most days the food is passable (And frankly, complaining about the food in a $5 bar is like complaining about the music in an elevator).
There are three outlets, as described below.
Pros - $5 Drinks, no specific happy hour
Cons - Food can be inconsistent.
Where and When:
16 Collyer Quay, #01-05B / Tel. 6536 8955 / Open from 12pm – midnight on Mon. to Fri. Open from 6pm – midnight on Sat. Closed on Sun. and Public Holidays.
5 Changi Business Park Central 1, Changi City Point, #01-66/67 / 6604 8255 / Open daily from 12 pm to midnight
25 Cuppage Road, Cuppage Terrace / Tel. 6733 8097 / Opens daily from 5pm to midnight
2. Insomnia Bar & Restaurant
Let me get this out of the way: I hate a lot of the clientele at Insomnia. Many of them are younger than me, which is depressing and therefore a personality flaw on their part (send rational retorts to email@example.com).
My point is, the crowd can feel a bit youngish if you’re in the 35 to 40+ age range. The music and ambiance seem catered to the young-bloods too, so the dance floor and conversation may not be too attractive.
That said, the booze is free flow. From 9pm to 11pm on Wednesdays, $20 will get you all-you-can-drink from the bar. And right up till 31st December 2013, you also get 40% off standard drinks via the CHIJMES promotion. Overall, if you want to drink on a Wednesday and you know you’ll be downing a lot more than $20 worth, come to this bar.
Pros – All you can drink for $20. Until 31st December 2013, 40% off standard drinks.
Cons - If you’re over 35, you’ll get the odd feeling that you just gatecrashed a 16 year old’s birthday party.
Where and When:
#01-21 CHIJMES, 30 Victoria Street / Tel. 6338 6883 / Open from 11 am to 4 am on Sun. to Tues. Open from 11am to 5 am from Wed. to Sat.
3. Tanuki Raw
This place is as much about food as it is about drinks. And as the name implies, Tanuki Raw is about raw foods – in particular oysters.
During Happy Hour (5pm to 8pm), this place serves up $10 Martinis. Every martini you buy lets you purchase up to a half dozen oysters at $2 each, and a plate of salmon sashimi at $5. So two martinis means you can buy 12 oysters and two sashimi plates, and three means you can buy 18 oysters and three sashimi plates, etc.
(If you actually intend to down 18+ oysters with alcohol in one sitting, read this article first)
This is one of my default hangouts, so trust me when I tell you (1) the drinks are insanely strong, (2) the Steak Tartare is amazing, and (3) Dennis is an awesome musician – I think he plays on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Pros - Extremely strong drinks at $10 a pop, cheap oysters, good live musician
Cons - Not as affordable when it’s not happy hour, don’t get to pick the type of oysters
Where and When:
181 Orchard Road, #02-03 Orchard Central / Tel. 6646 5949, does not take reservations / Open 11.30am to 10.30pm daily
4. Standing Sushi Bar
Standing Sushi Bar has two outlets in Singapore, each running different promotions. They’re also the parent company of Tanuki Raw. Do note that I’ve only visited the one at 8 Queen Street.
The place at Queen Street comes close to Five Izakaya’s promotion: you can get $5 beers, wines, umeshu, etc. on certain days. This is paired with the chance to buy $3 sashimi plates. I’m told Standing Sushi Bar is related to Tanuki Raw, and their highly similar, cross-selling promotions also suggests it.
The promotions are based on day of the week, as follows:
Monday – $5 beer, wine, hot sake and umeshu, $2 sake, $3 Sashimi plate
Tuesday - 50% off house pour and assorted foods
Wednesday - 50% off house pour and assorted foods
Thursday - Same as Monday
A quick note: When it’s busy, the place sounds like a percussion section fighting a lion dance troupe. It’s noisy as hell is what I’m saying, so you won’t be drinking in peace – if that bothers you.
At the Marina Bay Link Mall, happy hour is from 5pm to 8.45pm. You get $10 martinis, and $5 beers and sake. There’s also a range of $5 foods to pick from.
Pros - Affordable drinks and dinner rolled into one
Cons - At the Queen Street outlet, can get too noisy if you’re trying to conduct business or drown your sorrows.
Where and When:
8 Queen Street, #01-03 Singapore Art Museum / Tel. 6333 1335 / Open daily from 12 pm to 2.30pm, and 6pm to 10pm.
8 A Marina Boulevard, B2-51 Marina Bay Link Mall / Tel. 6334 7038 / Open Mon. to Fri. from 11.30 am to 9pm, open on Sat. from 11.30am to 6 pm, closed on Sun. and public holidays
5. Working Title
That’s not a typo in my header. Working Title is a cafe-bar on Arab Street, which adjoins – nay, is attached to – a hostel.
The place has kind of a hipster vibe, but if you’re not allergic to that it’s a quiet place to talk and drink. The big star here isn’t the ambiance anyway, but the range of exotic booze at good prices. Chocolate beers, fruit beers, various unpronounceable craft or foreign beers, etc. line the racks at prices as low as $8.
That’s great because (1) experimentation is always entertaining, and (2) it’s a fairly low price without anything being on promotion. You don’t have to accept bad house pours, or whatever the bartender squeezes out of his rag into your mug, just to get a good discount.
Overall, Working Title is not the cheapest place on this list. But if you want affordable + different, duck in here for a taste.
Pros – Exotic and unusual drinks, for low prices
Cons - Food is not cheap, some of the clientele may listen to Skrillex
Where and When:
48 Arab Street / Tel. 9734 4187 / Open from 9am to 10pm on Sun. to Thu. Open from 9am to midnight on Fri. and Sat.
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