Pictured: Unrefined, KC Special, Yours Truly, Bullito
Swedish Summer and Unrefined, both $15 ++
Despite the rich, heavy furnishings and extravagant menu, Astor Bar has a list of light, clean and natural cocktails that can turn a big night out into a guilt-free affair. Recognising that the essence of a deliciously lavish cocktail is its high calorie content, the bar offers a list of low-sugar and organic alternatives. Remove the alcohol altogether and you practically have a fruit salad, right? Not if you’re talking about the organic Swedish Summer mocktail with the crushed biscuit rim, which switches generous lashings of rum for extra rhubarb. It’s perfect for a sweet, pre-party teaser or a naughty little nightcap. Those not convinced this is low-calorie can go for the Unrefined, a refreshing crushed blend of cucumber, lychee and dill crushed with apple juice. It’s elegance with a health kick. The St Regis Hotel, 29 Tanglin Rd (6506 6888). Daily 3pm-2am. Mocktails $15++.
Yours Truly, $10++
Bartini, the cocktail kid on the Club Street block, tempts – then weakens – the senses with its list of exclusive tipples like the Pornstar Martini and Vanilla Rose Cosmo. The taste does not wear off when they’re turned into virgins: British bar manager Barnaby Murdoch can make non-alcoholic versions of all his mainstays and still make you believe these unspiked creations are laced with liqueurs from his top shelf. The reason? Bar – as he is abbreviated – admits he usually finds mocktails lacking a certain swish factor, so he strives to re-create that head-tingling taste. In the case of the Yours Truly, he shakes passionfruit juice, passionfruit syrup, soda and lemon juice together, and accessorises the tall glass with pineapple foam and raspberries. It’s a rich, fruity treat best enjoyed with a laidback game of Jenga at the back of the bar. Or, since your judgment isn’t impaired, with a spot of beautiful people-watching at the street-level tables. 46 Club St (6221 1025). Sun-Wed 5pm-midnight; Thu 5pm-1am; Fri & Sat 5pm-2am. Mocktails $10++.
KC Special, $10++
If a party’s what you are after, this bizarrely decorated yet stylish Club Street newbie will have you anchored. The friendly bar manager and trainer KC Rahmat can whip up virgin versions of any cocktail, but the nimble shaker-upper is most impressive when given the green light to make up his own recipe. The KC Special in particular is a real palate-pleaser, a chameleon-like drink whipped up by the bartender that changes according to the drinker’s preferences. Rahmat will dispense more zing if that’s what you crave: at our time of visiting, it was a smooth and exotic shaken fusion of orange juice, soda, cherries, lime and a drop of vanilla essence. The flavours meld effortlessly like the soul of a good fruit salad –robust from the citrus and berries, yet mellow from the familiar wafts of vanillin. It’s so much tastier, and much more satisfying, than a regular blended juice. 83 Club St (6220 4083). Mon-Thu noon-midnight; Fri noon-2am; Sat 5pm-2am. Mocktails $10++.
As far as alcohol-free nights on the town go, Kampong Glam has it covered. Dance until dawn with the rocket-fuelled Bullito: a twist on the traditional lime-, brown sugar- and mint-muddled Cuban highball the mojito, this mocktail party drink replaces soda with a generous serving of carbonated Red Bull. The latter’s caffeine and sugar combo guarantees a long night, while the frosty lime and mint flavours complement an afternoon of fresh tapas alfresco at Latin-cuisine specialist Piedra Negra. If, like us, you decide to call ahead to ask about this rager-friendly drink, you might be greeted with denial that it exists. Take it from us though, the Bullito is real – we were sober when we ordered it, and stayed sober to our last trembling sip. 241 Beach Rd (6291 1297). Mon-Thu noon-midnight; Fri noon-2am; Sat 5pm-2am. Mocktails $12.50.