Hidden speakeasy bar inspired by the opium dens and clan associations of colonial-era Singapore
(L: Self-Help Drink / R: Chasing The Dragon)
December 18th, 2023
Recently opened (October 2023), Chandu speakeasy bar can be found behind a nondescript façade marked only with a gold handle in the shape of a round moon at the rear of The Roberston House in Singapore’s historic River precinct.
An intimate cocktail bar with a design drawing inspiration from opium dens and clan associations, Chandu, which means opium in Malay and moon in Hindi, grants guests a peek into colonial-era Singapore when it was a flourishing entrepôt. Beneath the shiny veneer, this period also saw a rise in vice-related activities, from secret societies to opium abuse, which are elements that play an integral part in Singapore’s colonial history.
Positioned as a secretive den where Dr Murray Robertson, a prominent Municipal Councillor during British colonial Singapore, entertains “less than savory” characters such as triad leaders in covert gatherings, Chandu incorporates a similar, “if you know, you know” approach within its inner circle, fostering an aura of secrecy and exclusivity.
At Chandu, the beverage program primarily focuses on cocktails with a tale and market-to-glass specialties. Chandu’s double meaning of “Moon” is used as a play on the menu where some drinks are indicated with half-moon and hollow moon symbols, showcasing the Alcohol by Volume (ABV). Drinks indicated with a half-moon represent drinks with half ABV, whereas those with a hollow moon represent drinks with zero ABV, catering to guests with varying preferences.
Standout cocktails include Chasing The Dragon – a combination of Dr Robertson’s Gin, Silver Needle Tea, Dragonfruit, White Grape Cordial, and Praline; and Self-Help Drink – crafted with Mackintosh Blended Malt Whisky, Snow Pear Juice, Ginger, Chrysanthemum, Licorice, and Longan.
Other drinks on the menu include Always British, containing Butter Toast Plantation Original Dark Rum, Pandan, Dr Robertson’s Brew Coffee Liqueur, and Coconut Sorbet; and Trader’s Punch, containing House of Cane Rum, Dr Robertson’s Chai, Pineapple, Spices, and Clarified Coconut Cream. Prices for the cocktails range from S$20 to S$26.
Light snacks are also available at Chandu.
(images credit The Roberston House)