Located at 56/58 Tras Street, The Monarchy is Singapore’s latest British cocktail bar (with a secret “ultra lounge”). Created by the brains behind the epic Formula 1 after-parties, The Podium Lounge, the Monarchy Cocktail Bar & Ultra Lounge is a 3,600 square feet mecca for Anglophiles set within three ground floor units of Chinatown’s heritage shophouses .
Exuding casual luxury yet punctuated with accents of a royal nature, The Monarchy feels like a quasi-secret gentlemen’s club thanks to its darkened windows and imposing “10 Downing Street” front door, a replica of the British Prime Minister’s home-office entrance.
The Monarchy Singapore – A Cocktail Bar for the Ultimate Anglophile
Beginning as a series of thematic Monarchy nights on the rooftop of OUE Bayfront, The Monarchy Cocktail Bar is the permanent home for the wildly popular party with one kick-ass secret: a hidden wall beside the magnificent eight metre cocktail bar rotates to reveal the Ultra Lounge, a dark boudoir lined with the ultimate symbol of English lux – leather Chesterfield sofas. It is an intimate area where guests to The Monarchy looking for a different vibe can party with live celebrity acts, dancers and live DJs.
Co-founders Robbie Hoyes-Cock and Steve Yallop (a name familiar in high society circles) led us on a personal tour of the venue, with cool aesthetic touches and finishings exuding quintessentially English motifs – the Monarchy and Brit rockers (the other kind of Royalty). Passing through doors reminiscent of 10 Downing Street, The Monarchy experience begins right in the passageway thanks to a series of specially commissioned paintings which celebrate British monarchs past and present – not just House Windsor but also Houses Normandy and the infamous Tudors. There’s even a painting of Lady Di (Diana, Princess of Wales), but she looks more like Bill Nighy (which also raises another question – why isn’t the Brit treasure that is Bill Nighy present?)
Past the corridor, the resplendent eight metre black granite cocktail bar spanning the two halls is what makes this English cocktail bar undeniably one of Singapore’s finest Anglophile experiences. On the day of our visit, it was manned by Hazel, absolutely the coolest bartender we’ve ever met. Waxing lyrical on her joy of the service industry and her perspectives on nightlife, we imbibed on a twist of our favourite Whisky Sour – The Monarchy’s very own “Paint It Black” – a citrusy cocktail named for the Rolling Stone’s hit single.
Bar grub like the Ebi Tempura set is competently provided by neighbouring restaurants like Don & Tori, as The Monarchy co-founder Steve Yallop explains, “The authorities wouldn’t permit us to run our own kitchen because we were looking to operate as a bar rather than restaurant-bar, and those have different operating hours.”
Large varieties of hard liquor, including their own house-blended whiskeys, are shelved in front of a wall of large antique mirrors, perfectly framing the myriad of impressive spirits. Comfortably seated on luxurious leather bar stools, we could observe the subtle shifts and professional flair of cocktail-making. The right-most hall of The Monarchy recalls private British clubs, private booths with a view of the bar and all the comings and goings of its patrons, and more importantly, a tribute to the most English of accoutrements – the bespoke suit. A wall display dominates view of the area thanks to Kevin Seah’s tailoring dummy, topped with his vision of a Savile Row bespoke jacket. If it feels a little “Kingsman”, it is because the tailored suit spells “British gentleman” unlike any other aesthetic symbol on the planet. That said, how good would it have been had Kevin Seah’s display been on the opposite side of the hall where a pull of a coat hanger would reveal The Monarchy’s Ultra Lounge.
The Monarchy’s Ultra Lounge
Residing just behind a secret wall next to the bar, the ultra lounge recalls the ultimate Monarchy experience – the thematic party nights. In essence, The Monarchy is a drinking hole with two distinct and exciting experiences in one bar. During the weekends, that is to say, beginning Friday evenings after 10pm (or the eve of a public holiday), the Ultra Lounge is what gives the Monarchy cocktail bar its keen edge. As the evening matures, a steady pulse of up-tempo music can be heard from the lounge’s custom sound system. The wall panel besides the bar rotates to reveal the ultra-sexy, ultra-intimate secret room with specially reinforced leather Chesterfield sofas and coffee table tops for dancing.
As the evening progresses, international house music DJs will simulcast the lounge’s tempo to the area outside Ultra. Seated in the boudoir bar, a similar set of acrylic paintings continue the theme, but instead of monarchs, you get the coolest Brit celebrities and pop cultural icons. Though we have not witnessed first hand, we hear that Ultra Lounge truly comes alive when the bar’s own dancers start to perform in front of you. Jut how debauched can it get? I guess one would have to make a personal visit to truly experience it.
Overall Vibe of The Monarchy
Fully suited, the staff of the Monarchy vibe “Peaky Blinders”, or specifically the sartorial essence (rather than the criminal enterprise) of the acclaimed Netflix series on the lives of 1920s British gangsters. Kevin Seah, Singapore’s pre-eminent tailor, skipped a trip to Pitti Uomo specially to work on The Monarchy’s project. Referencing the 1920s, that golden age of men’s style, each of the founders, including the bartenders and wait staff, were measured up and dressed in Kevin Seah. Classical Britannia extends beyond the suits and even unto the menus, each stylised like old school Bank of England cheque books printed on old school linen paper (just like the real thing).
The drinks menu of The Monarchy Cocktail Bar is similarly bespoked. General Manager Rob Scott, former Group Beverage Director of Burnt Ends and Rogue Trader, curated a special and unique list of timeless cocktails with a twist. Most old favourites (like our whisky sour) will have a “Monarchy interpretation”, and nothing is what it seems even if tastes alike. Using novel ingredients, Great Britain’s most popular tipples are expressed with Scott’s own Monarchy flavour, re-igniting the imagination of cocktail cynics and veteran bar hoppers.
Some of The Monarchy’s special cocktails include (the two which we personally tried):
- Paint It Black – a twist on “ye olde” whisky sour using only herbs and botanicals rather than the usual citrus
- Stairway to Heaven – a citrusy, refreshing and revitalising (especially in these sweltering climes) vodka-based cocktail which feels more like a shandy albeit a super strong one.
Art and Style of The Monarchy Cocktail Bar & Ultra Lounge
In an exclusive partnership with legendary American artist Alex Wakefield, the artist who became a global phenomenon thanks to his Formula 1 and motorsport themed artworks, Wakefield’s works adorn the walls of The Monarchy Cocktail Bar & Ultra Lounge, each bearing his signature quirk and artistic leitmotif. Wakefield’s uncanny ability to change perspective and use the flexibility of his art is what makes the art of The Monarchy so engaging and appealing.
His art is collected around the world and he is especially proud of his recent three-month exhibition at The Museu do Caramulo in Portugal, where his works were showcased alongside world-renowned artists including Salvador Dali and Picasso. More importantly, they are now available for sale at The Monarchy with prices starting from $12,000 (Dame Helen Mirren and George Michael has been sold).
Additionally, specially-tailored Kevin Seah blazers with The Monarchy monogram will soon be available for sale. Each jacket comes with special privileges including exclusive invites to tastings and other VIP events.
Words by Jonathan Ho.