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 set within three ground floor units of Chinatown’s heritage shophouses is a 3,600 square feet mecca for Anglophiles. 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.
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 8 metre cocktail bar rotates to reveal the Ultra Lounge – a dark boudoir lined with the ultimate symbol of English lux – leather Chesterfield sofas, each specially reinforced for activities of a rhythmic nature (dancing guys, get your minds out of the gutter). It’s an intimate area where guests to The Monarchy looking for a different vibe can party with live celebrity acts, hot dancers and live DJs.
Co-Founders Robbie Hoyes-Cock and Steve Yallop (a name familiar in high society circles) led 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 the doors reminiscent of 10 Downing Street, The Monarchy experience begins right in the passageway thanks to the series of specially commissioned paintings which celebrate British monarchs past and present, not just House Windsor but also Houses Normandy, and 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 8 metre black granite cocktail bar spanning the two halls is what makes this English cocktail bar undeniably one of Singapore’s finest Anglophile experiences.
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, who 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 (at least to this author), 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’s 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 where 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 my whisky sour) will have a “Monarchy interpretation” – 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; it is confident that 2019 Bar Awards will include The Monarchy in one way or another thanks to the legacy they have begun on the burgeoning Singaporean bar scene.
Some of The Monarchy’s special cocktails include:
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 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.