Republic at Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is that sort of place, except that it’s right in our own backyard. Still, the new hotel bar demands that you make a grand occasion of your visit, even if you’re coming from one of the suites upstairs.
What used to be Chihuly Lounge is now an exquisite three-part space consisting of a reception, lounge and bar “designed to evoke the warmth, intimacy and elegance of a private residence”. This is, of course, an understatement. The design team at New York-based tonychi studio, who’s also behind Colony and Summer Pavilion at the hotel, has given each chamber a wholly different look and feel to suit its purpose. The bar is a handsome, scarlet-hued space with slick burgundy leather seats, dark wood flooring, mirrored surfaces and a ‘60s rock-and-roll vibe. The lounge next door, separated by a moveable partition, is decidedly more feminine, with three spectacular floral-imprinted chandeliers, walls adorned in blue herringbone fabrics and mint green leather seats. Afternoon tea is served here during the day. Those checking into the hotel will now be ushered to the new black-marbled reception reminiscent of a posh residential library, stocked with books and old-world wines.
There’s a sense that the overhaul is a natural progression. “The dawn of Republic creates symmetry and balance between the East and West wings of the hotel, with Colony restaurant alluding to that period in history when Singapore was part of the British Crown Colony, through to its next major milestone with the formation of the Republic of Singapore in 1965, anchoring the hotel experience with a deep sense of place,” explains general manager Peter Mainguy.
With all due respect, Chihuly Lounge will not be missed. The drinks and bites live up to its stunning premises, and you’ll soon forget what it was before. Abiding with the ‘60s theme, the cocktail menu pays tribute to the influential hallmarks of the era as it highlights the flavours, ingredients and expressions from four cultural epicentres: Singapore, England, US, and Italy. From Great Britain there’s the vodka-based Mini Skirt with Pimm’s No. 1, limoncello and cranberry pineapple cordial to honour the 1960s fashion statement. American artist Andy Warhol makes an appearance in 15 Minutes of Fame, a lovely, brunch-worthy flute filled with Farmer’s gin, cacao blanc, champagne, verjus, apple and lavender bitters. Repping Italy is the Valentino Red, a tropical-fruity sipper made with gin, lychee, watermelon riesling, peach and jasmine soda.
All of these are expertly crafted for both aesthetics and balance, but it’s the Singapore offerings that make me coo with glee like a kid in a candy store. City Circuit is essentially a Singapore Sling, only less cloyingly sweet and a lot more palatable than the original, thanks to the addition of champagne. Mythical Beast, an ode to the Merlion, is a perky, citrus-dominant gin-based beauty with a faint, almost imperceptible tinge of saltiness at the finish. It also comes embellished with a gorgeous laser-cut-like feather made out of parmesan — a high point of Republic’s sublimity. My top drink of the night is the Timeless Beauty, a clarified milk punch with zesty pineapple undertones and round, silky mouthfeel.
In case you’re having the munchies, the snacks are bar bite goals — nothing preposterous; just fun, fried and unstoppable. Think pork toast smothered in hoi sin sauce, whitebait seasoned with five-spice and smoke, and dessert ‘fries’ of buttery breadsticks served with raspberry jam (ketchup) and vanilla custard (mayonnaise).
Lest I forget, there are also four “vintage” concoctions in the price range of $125 to $148, should you be in the mood for something special. I was, unfortunately, not privy to them at the opening, but judging from the lot of I’ve had, I’d imagine they are just as ravishing. Hopefully the guys at The World’s Best agree.
(All images: Republic)