Given its name, you’d be forgiven for thinking 13 Wives is a bit dodgy, yet thankfully there’s no mischievous polygamy going down here, a watering hole just off the Kallang River. Unlike many of the swanky rooftop bars that all seem to mimic each other’s vibe and share the same trendy recipes, this tucked-away gem is not playing copycat with any of them. The cocktail menu is presented in ‘The Little Black Book’, a mini-journal filled with handwritten scribbles profiling each of the owner’s muses – women who’ve had an impact on his life thus far, and for whom he has named a carefully calibrated cocktail.
After taking a seat at the outdoor bar, set up behind hipster café Loysel’s Toy, managing bartender Eugene was eager for us to try what he saw as our best-fit cocktail. We confirmed no allergies or dislikes, and let him run with it and were both pleasantly surprised. A passionfruit mojito – on the menu as ‘Jasmine’ – arrived with generous dollops of fresh passionfruit floating alongside mint leafs in a fulsome bath of rum. While not as innovative as some of the drinks to come, this recipe was seductively smooth and flawlessly prepared.
It was upon witnessing the preparation of our next drinks that we began to feel like we’d wandered into a mad scientist’s laboratory: a sprig of rosemary was torched, and the smoke captured in his shaker infused with gin and tonic; slices of ham were also carved for a Bloody Mary.
This mixology maestro is still only 21 but already has extensive experience behind the bars at Villa Bali, The Arena, supperclub, The White Rabbit and, most recently, Haji Lane’s Bar Stories. Gazing upon the vintage 1950s sweetheart poster that hangs on a white caged wall in this unpretentious, treeen-circled setting, we wondered how long it would be until more outdoor, off-the-beaten-track deck bars pop up around the city. Alexandra Karplus