There’s mystery to hedonism behind closed doors, which really is the atmospheric appeal of a bit of grime and the suggestion of shady dealings. Lucky for us, there’s a bar in town that trades in these appearances with the comforts of a modern bar experience. Enter Mona Lounge – more literally, though, you will have to enter with a pass code for a locked door.
Mona’s decor takes its cues from an imagined character – Mona – the matriarch of the lounge who has made her space a sanctuary to imbibe and uninhibit themselves to the sounds of 80s Chinese jazz and swing. Inside, you’ll be transported to a space inspired by low-lit glamour and decadence of Hong Kong in the 80s. It’s an evolution of the approach Sum Yi Tai, Mona’s parent Cantonese restaurant, has taken.
Just as promising is the bar menu, helmed by head bartender Byron Tan and the Coterie group’s chief bartender Sam Wong – from, oh you know, Ah Sam’s Cold Drink Store. To aid you with a visual of a concept, imagine the cocktails tell the story of Mona’s past.
Start, perhaps, with Mona’s Tea. It’s a cognac-forward indulgence mixed with oolong sherry and Fernet Branca. Better still, it’s served with a side of a salted egg chocolate made by Singaporean craft chocolatiers Fossa Chocolate. The Songstress cocktail is also a good choice if you like your drinks heady and abhor the fruity floral. It offers an oriental spin on an Old Fashioned, with a dose of pi pa gao for a spicy and herbal flavour.
Equally indulgent are classic Cantonese bar bites that are close enough to home to both complement the cocktails and the soul. Fried wantons and crispy roast pork never disappoint – and if you’re after the kick of a spicy bite, you’ll find it in chili-tossed pork wantons and Hong Kong-style curry fishballs.
More than anything, come for the ambience and atmosphere. It’s not every day that you find a cocktail bar in Singapore with a desire to style itself beyond a speakeasy. There’s a lot of the same leather seats and wooden bar tops – and admittedly it’s here in Mona Lounge too – but hey, you’ve got Mahjong-tiled table tops.
Mona Lounge is open Monday to Saturday from 6pm to 1am at 25 Boon Tat Street. Request access at Sum Yi Tai on the ground floor, then head upstairs to get to the bar.