Inspired by the vibrancy of local Asian flavours and founded on the idea of sustainability, NATIVE stands out from Singapore’s brimming cocktail scene. From locally-sourced ingredients to drinks with ants, this is a cocktail bar unlike any.
Since it’s conception in 2016, NATIVE quickly rose in popularity among both tourists and locals. Gaining a reputation for its unconventional and innovative lineup of cocktails, the bar has continuously placed on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars; recently gaining the 12th position in 2019, while previously placing 13th and 47th in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
Behind its immense success, however, is a meaningful mission and a great story. A brain child of renowned bartender, Vijay Maudaliar, NATIVE was built with the intention of promoting local flavours and local ingredients.
Maudaliar previously worked at one of Singapore’s most popular bars, Operation Dagger, which also centers around promoting sustainability. However, Maudaliar’s true shining moment was when he was announced the winner of the 2015 Diplomatico World Tournament Singapore Final with a cocktail that not only represented Singapore’s history but reflected the flavours of the country’s rich heritage.
With a loaded arsenal of cocktail experience and a true passion for the environment, Maudaliar branched out to create NATIVE, a bar that not only serves up inventive cocktails but also aims to connect customers to Singapore’s local flavours and culture – whether that’s through foraged ingredients or an Asian-centric menu.
Local sourcing at its finest
Foraging is an integral part of locavourism – a practice that entails sourcing for ingredients as locally as possible. What used to be an exclusive trend amongst high-end and luxurious restaurants is now a common practice adopted by a number of cocktail bars, with NATIVE leading the crusade.
Maudaliar and his team forages for ingredients themselves around Singapore, as well as neighbouring countries in the region such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Curry leaves, pink jasmine, jackfruit, wild sorrel and weaver ants are just some of the ingredients the team finds, all of which end up in their cocktails after a set of rigorous and precise extraction and flavour-profile matching processes.
Drawing inspiration from his immediate environment, Maudaliar wanted to showcase foraged ingredients and regional spirits in a way that truly reflects the flavours of his childhood and local Asian culture. The result is a unique menu inspired by the many stories of Asia, and that feature familiar flavours such as durian, turmeric and soursop – guaranteed to give customers a bar experience like never before.
The Sensei From the Block is definitely a must-drink at NATIVE. Made with Sichuan pepper gin, ginseng, black sesame, mandarin oranges and gingko nut milk, this cocktail is inspired and modelled after the extensive history of herbal medicine in the East. With the nostalgic flavour of ginseng and the freshness of oranges, this drink is sure to be a refreshing treat after a day out in the Singapore heat.
What to try
For flavours closer to home, NATIVE’s rendition of the classic Indian drink, Lassi, is always a customer favourite. The bar’s Mango Lassi is made from spiced mango, turmeric, pomegranate molasses, beetroot jelly and Indian rum. Served in a tall glass, this cocktail boasts a beautiful complexity of colours and textures that clearly show why NATIVE continues to rank among the world’s best bars.
Their most famous and popular drink, however, has got to be Antz. True to its name, this innovative cocktail features freeze-dried weaver ants on a dried basil leaf that lay atop of an exquisite concoction of Thai Rum, coconut yoghurt, sugarcane, soursop and salt-baked tapioca, all served in a locally-made ceramic vessel that mimics an ant hill. Considerably one of the most inventive cocktails in the game, Antz is a unique tropical drink that has a refreshingly sour taste and an atypical crunch.
Sustainability everywhere you look
Beyond their local and one-of-a-kind drinks, the bar also emphasises on self-sustainability. With a focus on recycling and waste reduction, NATIVE adopts a zero plastic policy and ensures that no part of an ingredient is wasted. Their coasters are made from repurposed lotus leaves, while their aprons are made from and dyed with leftover ingredients that would otherwise go to the compost.
The bar itself is situated in the third-floor of a shophouse located at Amoy Street, Singapore. Riddled with evidence of the bar’s meaningful mission and philosophy, the place has a nautical theme that showcases furniture and various décor from local craftsmen. Customers can also expect to be welcomed by a mural painted with leftover botanicals. The bar’s playlist is also carefully curated, with 85% of their playlist consisting of local artists.
NATIVE’s atmosphere is cosy and welcoming to everyone, all thanks to their friendly staff that exhibit immense passion in executing the bar’s mission. Truly living out their sustainable identity, NATIVE has put a dedicated focus on the environment and its preservation. With strong efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, coupled with staggering and world-class cocktails, this cocktail bar rightfully deserves all its success.
Address: 52a Amoy St, Singapore 069878
Monday – Saturday | 6pm – 12am