More often than not, hotel bars suffer from an incurable case of drabness. So many are stuffy with an air of pretentiousness, or are just plain bring-the-boss, business-attire boring. Yet, at Republic, in Singapore’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, you’ll find no such outdated, chintzy glamor (although you will be going back in time) or snooty dress code.
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Instead, you’ll be transported to the swinging ‘60s. The age of pop-art, rockstars, mini-skirts, freedom, peace&love – a far cry from prim and pompous. At the helm is Manager, Mohamed Rudi, who is carefully keeping things world-class-cool and, in true ‘60s spirit, ensuring everyone is welcome.
Not So Subtle Sixties Chic
“Singapore became a Republic in 1965, so for us it’s a decade worthy of commemoration” tells Rudi. “Hence the bar’s name and sixties theme. It is our homage to now and then – celebrating the ‘60s ideology of freedom, expression and individuality.”
And they haven’t adopted the theme halfheartedly. From floor to ceiling, menu to music, almost every aspect of the bar references the era.
Red leather chairs, venetian stained glass, teak-toned tables and a mother-of-pearl ceiling are inspired by the 60’s chicest interior designs. The walls are lined with vintage posters and old covers of Vogue from which the decade’s most recognizable faces, Che Guevara, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, watch over proceedings. Behind the bar you’ll find a gleaming array of vintage spirits, and crystal glasses waiting to be filled with whatever ‘60s themed cocktail tickles your fancy.
Meet The Manager
Behind the bar you might also find the aforementioned manager, Rudi. An industry old-timer, he has been working within hospitality for over 20 years, 13 of which have been spent at the Ritz-Carlton, “If I remember correctly…it’s been so long!” he laughs.
Just like the hotel bar he runs, Rudi defies expectations. He is Ritz-Carlton standard professional, of course, but not bureaucratic. We talk together about parties past and it’s clear he knows his way around a good time. Essential expertise, we say, for someone whose job is to ensure guests too are enjoying themselves.
Cocktail culture blew up in the ‘60s. Post-war, people were ready to party and the likes of Sean Connery, the height of smooth-tongued sophistication, were sipping shaken-not-stirred martinis on the big screen.
It’s no surprise then that the star of Republic‘s very suave show is the cocktail menu. Divided into 4 parts, you’ll find drinks dedicated to Art, Cinema, Fashion and Music of the era.
In the Cinema there’s Space Odyssey, made with 12 year old Glenfiddich, berries and honey, topped off with Telmont champagne and glitter. Flick to Fashion and it’s The Mondrian, inspired by the Yves Saint Laurent mini-dress with the iconic Piet Mondrian pattern cleverly printed directly onto the cocktails foamy surface.
If you’re with a party, or in the mood for a party, pick a punch bowl. Created with the help of David Wondrich, cocktail historian and author of Punch, these gigantic bowls of booze are heavily researched and true to the era. More proof that the menu here is as much about substance, as it is style. You don’t come in at No.16 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars and No.90 on World’s Best Bars 2022, with just pretty presentation. The drinks need to be outstanding quality.
Vintage Spirits That Give You A Taste Of The ‘60s
Aside from cocktails and punches, Republic also house some seriously special vintage spirits. Gins, bourbons, whiskeys, whatever you like, order them neat or ask the bartender to shake up a cocktail. “Unlike wine, vintage spirits very rarely go bad, so they taste just as good as they did in the ‘60s.” Rudi tells us “Order a vintage negroni and you are literally tasting a time gone by.”
Do be prepared, however, for your eyes to water at the prices. The spirits’ rarity and limited supply mean they don’t come cheap, and it sort of makes some sense. When they’ve all been drunk, that’s it. Finito. So, if you’re willing to bang out the big bucks, it will be worth your while.
There’s more than just drinks, drinks and more drinks on the menu. “You’ll be missing out if you don’t order something from the Republic kitchen” Rudi proudly states.
Dishes from across the globe make an appearance including the humble Yorkshire pudding, tarted up with pulled beef and truffle jam, and chicken corndogs served alongside mac’n’cheese croquettes. Even the house fries get glamified with a dusting of salty-sharp pecorino and smooth aioli for dipping. For breakfast, it’s champagne and congee. “A very good hangover cure”, Rudi promises us, if you’ve been out reveling in the city the night before.
Set In The Past But Looking To The Future
Like any world-class bar, Rudi and the team are working tirelessly to keep things fresh. There’s a calendar of exciting guest shifts where some of the very best bars from across the world takeover for a night. The esteemed Donovan Bar from Browns Hotel in London, L’Antiquario in Naples and Yakoboku in Japan to name a few recent collaborations. Plus, plans are underway for new signature cocktails to hit the menu in the new year.
In the words of ‘60s style icon, Yves Saint Laurent, “fashions fade”, and the pretentious hotel bar may be one of them. But Republic are staying eternally stylish.