You may or may not have heard of Junior. It’s a “pocket bar” that opened late last year, a tiny space in Singapore’s CBD with a nondescript entrance along an unassuming back alley. If you didn’t already know of its existence, then you would’ve just walked past it without a second glance.
Inside, though, it’s a totally different story.
Set up by the same people behind 28 HongKong Street, Proof & Company, and the now-closed Crackerjack, the 10-seater bar is in a cozy corner of the premises of the latter. And in an ever-evolving city like Singapore, Junior keeps up with the fickle-minded public by rotating its concepts every six months. Kind of like what you’d expect at an art gallery. No expense is spared in their makeover projects, it seems — the entire space undergoes an overhaul, from the decor to the menu to the music.
Junior first debuted with “Norma,” focusing on tequila, mezcal, and other not-so-known Mexican spirits. Now, it’s back with a revamped look inspired by the cocktail culture and Creole cuisine of New Orleans.
“Magnolia” — named after the official state flower of Louisiana — is a space that’s dimly-lit (in an inviting way), with rich red velvet wallpaper and black and white photos of the city’s icons and landmarks.
It’s a little like entering a secret door and stepping through to a windowless hideaway in the Big Easy, with junk blues and ’70s funk as your backdrop. They also throw in some trad jazz (our resident music snob tells us that’s short for “traditional jazz”).
The small space makes for an intimate experience with your partner, drinking buddies, and the bartender, which is great, because the guys behind the bar sure know their stuff, and they’ll tell you all you want to know about the cocktails and the stories behind them. It’s charming, really.
For some background on New Orleans — it’s hosted a vibrant cocktail scene since the 1800s, and it’s where classic concoctions like the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, Brandy Milk Punch, and Brandy Crusta originated from.
Perusing the menu, you’ll find it separated into four categories. “Friskin’ the Whiskers, Lickin’ the Chops” — though quite a mouthful — highlights drinks made famous by popular watering holes, including the Ramos Gin Fizz ($25), a light and creamy mix of Citadelle gin, fresh cream, citrus, and orange flower water, and Pimm’s cup ($25), a gin-based blend with champagne and citrus fermented blood orange tea.
As for the category “Let the Good Times Roll” — here, it’s all about cutting loose with iconic cocktails like the Grasshopper ($25), made with mezcal, absinthe, crème de menthe, and crème de cacao. Then there’s the Truffled Sazerac ($25), combining the flavors of brandy, rye whiskey, black truffle, Orleans bitters, and absinthe, from the section called “Playin’ the Hits Blowin’ Changes”.
Lastly, “The Second Chance” shines the spotlight on the bar’s original creations, influenced by the city’s culture. The Baron ($25), named after Baron Samedi, loa of Haitian voodoo, reflects the character’s debauchery and love for tobacco and rum with a bittersweet mix of rum, coffee, and Averna amaro.
To line your stomach before you down the drinks, the small food menu offers classics of the Big Easy with items like dirty rice balls ($10), fried okra ($8), jambalaya ($12), a daily special po’boy ($12), and powdered sugar-covered beignets ($12). These are way better than your usual bar bites (cough, truffle fries, cough), which is a big plus in our book.
43 Tanjong Pagar Rd, entrance in the alley on Cook St, 8121-1462.
MRT: Tanjong Pagar