First published on 9 Apr 2010. Updated on 23 Apr 2010.
Run by Dheeraj Chandna, this amiable trade veteran’s shop is neatly divided into electronics and alcohol, and stocks imported Indian rum and Sri Lankan toddy (palm wine). Want something less pricey? He’s got a cheaper alternative to almost all your favourite spirits without skimping on taste (or so he says).
Chandna also has an absurdly large repository of knowledge on alcoholic home remedies. ‘If you have a dog or cat who suffers from a blocked urinary passage, instead of bringing them to the vet and paying $400, you give them Johnnie Walker Black Label,’ he claims. ‘Two spoons twice a day, third day [snaps fingers], they’ll be up and running.’
He also recalls a method for curing gout. ‘You put seven raisins in Gordon’s Gin and after seven days, you consume all seven. Not just one customer says so, many customers.’
Offering the sort of personalised service you’d expect at a high-end boutique wine cellar – including helping beleaguered party planners and wedding organisers decide which drinks are better for different events – Chandna has been running the show for 12 years. He proudly serves everyone, from Russian shipmen (‘They buy Absolut Vodka, their favourite brand’) to prominent members of the local art scene.
Watching Chandna interact with his regulars, we enquired whether he was worried about losing out to big business. ‘No,’ he replies firmly. ‘I’m quite happy here, because I have a good bunch of regular customers. I take care of my customers.’
And apparently, they take care of him in return. ‘I don’t drink at all. Zero,’ he explains, so he relies on the regulars to offer him recommendations – whether it be for cooking, medicine or drinking tips he can pass on to others. 232 Serangoon Rd; 6293 7944
Eng Hin Hoe
This was the first shop of its kind on Serangoon Road, and has the biggest range of drinkables and medicinal spirits around. The bottle-stocked façade of this liquor/medicinal shop may spark some curiosity and lure you in, but beware of the less than warm welcome you’re likely to receive – as well as what appears to be a no-fixed-price policy. 226 Serangoon Rd
Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop
This tiny 70-year-old liquor shop resembles an alchemist’s lab and makes the average hole-in-the-wall outlet look as conspicuous as the Taj Mahal. Draped across its shopfront – glass-front cabinets filled with knick-knacks – is a shiny paper sign that spells out ‘Happy Birthday’. The wall-to-wall shelves house dozens of obscure liquors and absinthe in different colours. Between Serangoon Rd and Belilios Ln
Kian Heng Liquor
Here you’ll spy some truly esoteric French cognac hidden among a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks. This spot’s worth a peek just for the completely random juxtaposition of liquor with hawker facilities. Kopi with your whiskey, sir? 49 Chander Rd
First appeared as 'Bottling things up' and 'Licensed to distil' (TOS Apr 2010)