Why should a bar attached to a restaurant as enticingly hip as House feel so, well, gloomy? Camp is poorly lit and awkwardly arranged, and plays a fairly underwhelming sidekick to its sibling restaurant. It’s a mismatch of decor: retro-ish, multicoloured seating sits uncomfortably in artsy, eclectic minimalism. A slow-flashing, sort of Boogie Nights disco board behind an empty, unloved DJ booth calls to mind the vacant sadness of an abandoned fairground. No, that’s too harsh. More like an out-of-action function suite. That’s still too harsh. But, you get the idea. The place needs a hug.
Thankfully, though, the handsomely wrought cocktails here outshine their digs (and, there’s always the lush, downtempo outside patio). A menu that promises to update ‘the classics of yesteryear’ is always prone to cliché but not here: Matthew Bax (Tippling Club) gets away with it with some cleverly inventive presentation. Tiffin Punch ($59, serves four) arrives in a stacked metal tiffin, perfectly balanced with a gin base and a zip of champagne, the smooth sweetness of the lychee playing winning foil to the acid notes of the pink grapefruit. Bracingly spiced, the tartly rum-based Jamaican Black Strap Buck ($18) is a rare find on any drinks list, especially when served in a medicine-brown bottle and paper bag.
Our fave, though, was the delicious Mint Berry Gin Fizz ($19), which, underpinned with gin and packed full of summer fruits, made a lively testament to the bar’s commitment to fresh ingredients. A winner for serious swillers, then, but for look-at-me, stand-around weekend buzz, Camp disappoints. AB
Cocktails from $17.
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