It is only when the playing of recorded music was banned in F&B establishments last year (remember Phase 2 Heightened Alert?), did restaurant-goers realise the importance of ambient music in the overall guest experience of dining out. ‘Let the music play’ was the F&B industry’s appeal throughout the restricted phase, and amidst all of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we are glad to see the back of this rule. 60 decibels only? We will take it. Live music back on? YES please. No more tucking into dinner with the din of your neighbour’s conversation or the noisy clinking of cutlery, we want to bop our heads to tunes as we chow down and say ‘cheers’ to the sound of a carefully curated bar playlist. 

Read on as we delve deep into the harmonious (pun, intended) relationship between music, dining, drinking and doing it all over again the next night. 

Curated playlists and a vibe that speaks volumes

Music genres can have a huge impact on how diners perceive a certain brand. Choosing the right one that fits the vibe of the establishment is essential to being ‘on brand’.

Step into Stay Gold Flamingo on buzzy Amoy Street to enjoy two distinct experiences, endorsed further by their playlists. Stay Gold, is a modern classic bar with a rock-and-roll attitude where one can kick back over good music and solid cocktails. Flamingo is a funky neighbourhood coffee bar where guests unwind with a midday drink in hand. Free spirited imbibers are welcome, and in order to match the mood of the space as the day progresses, the founders have curated two distinctly different playlists for each concept. Mornings at Flamingo consist of jazz and indie leaning chill beats which transitions to a funky playlist in the afternoon. At Stay Gold, rock & blues play in the early evening as the bar slowly comes to life, and rock & roll helps set the mood as the energy picks late into the night. Find classic anthems from AC/DC, Queen and Bon Jovi that set the mood. 

Interior of Stay Gold


The ultra-luxe Republic Bar at the Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore pays homage to the 60s, an era where freedom, expression and individuality were celebrated, and the theme is reflected in everything from music, to menu. The 60s saw great cultural and social revolution, with four countries — Singapore, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Italy being cultural epicenters of importance and meaningful change. Other than having a cocktail menu that showcases flavours, ingredients and sensations inspired by the influential hallmarks of the 1960s, the playlist in Republic Bar is also specially curated by the hotel’s general manager and a music consultant and revolves around 60s rock and disco hits. Sip on a Straits Gin Cup as you rock out to artists like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. 

Interior of Republic Bar

For a fully immersive experience where beats and bites combine.

Conceptualised by the co-founders of local music collectives, Offtrack is a music focused bar that serves hearty Pan-Asian food and cult-classic cocktails. A warm social space for all who are guided by leisure, it is an intimate listening experience with a carefully designed sound system and great acoustics. Additionally, Offtrack also gives local and regional DJs the opportunity to helm and curate music behind a vinyl-friendly booth. What a great new spot for music-lovers! 

There is more. Head to Maduro, which is a special little spot surrounded by lush greenery in Dempsey Hill. A living room-style jazz lounge filled with curated art, music, bespoke cocktails and food, you could say Maduro is a welcome change from your typical cocktail bar. Founded by Peter Ng (known as Mr. P), a former jazz pianist and real estate broker, Maduro is inspired by the cigar bars and private members’ clubs that Mr P. frequented during his time in London. Also on-site is a hidden by-invite-only private den for shenanigans laced with fine spirits, curated cocktails and an extensive wine list. Now that live music is back, make a date with Maduro. 

Interior of Maduro – Image credits TimeOut

Then there is Vertigo26, a dual concept vinyl store and bar, hidden in the basement of the Mint Museum of Toys. A sanctuary for audiophiles, Vertigo26 offers a huge repertoire of vinyls of all genres spanning over five decades. Seek out for old classics such as The Beatles, rock classics such as Guns N’ Roses and Green Day, or even modern day pop such as Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift.  Cool cocktails here are called “Mr Brightside” by The Killers of Vodka, pear, lime and osmanthus, as well as “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles; a Gin based frozen watermelon cocktail. 

Interior of Vertigo26 – Image credits Life in Arpeggio

Cocktails inspired by musical elements

When it comes to drinks, bartenders often take inspiration from the arts and pop culture. Music, being a solid inspiration in some of the city’s top tipples.

The cocktails at Republic Bar celebrate key cultural and social events in the 60s. One of its cocktails, Satisfaction ($25) is inspired by the legendary Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and his love for Irish Coffee. Here, Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition and Irish Stout Reduction and Brewed Coffee come together in a punchy, complex drink. “In addition, hard rock bands were known to perform in London coffee shops back in those days, so a coffee cocktail was an excellent choice to depict this aspect of the 60s” said head bartender Martin Villareal. 

Photo credits from Drink Magazine

Manhattan Bar, which is named No.15 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2021, has presented menus that highlight New York’s rich history, culture, and flavours. Their “New York Personified Vol. 2” menu showcases Manhattan’s famous residents, past and present, and musical influences are present here as well.

Image credits from Manhattan Bar

NY-resident Andy Warhol is the inspiration behind Peel Slowly And See (Banana infused Monkey Shoulder, Occhi Di Torino, Whey Syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters). Why banana? The iconic yellow banana featured on the album cover of The Velvet Underground’s debut record was designed by American artist Andy Warhol. Peel Slowly And See is also the name of the band’s five disc set that includes all four studio albums by the Lou Reed-era line-ups of The Velvet Underground, alongside demo recordings and live performances. Plus, who doesn’t love a cocktail with a good story. 

Full track listing of Peel Slowly And See available on Spotify here

There is more, Hamilton (Whisky, Cognac and Sherry) is inspired by the American musical Hamilton, that tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, as well as a selection of cocktails inspired by Yoko Ono, who as you know is an artist, singer, songwriter, peace activist but best known for being married to English singer/songwriter, John Lennon of The Beatles. 

Image credits from Manhattan Bar

All that talk on cocktails has us thinking about the upcoming Asia’s 50 Best Bar awards. Watch The World’s 50 Best Bars Facebook and 50 Best Bars TV YouTube Channel (8.30pm Singapore time) to see which iconic hospitality establishments in the region make the cut. We will be in Bangkok joining the celebrations!

Meanwhile, let’s hope that harmony between music, drinking and dining will not be disrupted again (goodbye, pandemic!) and we can soon experience more musically inclined establishments, live performances, inspired cocktails and fantastic nights out on this little red dot!

Info & Credits
Ivy Woo
Written & Edited by
Veteran food and beverage marketer and classified OCD or “Obsessive Chilli Disorder”.