Jun 20 2011

What to drink in Singapore

Published by at 2:05 pm under Food


With the temperature in Singapore regularly hitting 35°C you’ll want to keep hydrated as you explore the city. When it’s time for a drink, try cooling down with one of these quintessentially Singaporean beverages.

Just drink it, la.

Kopi: Singapore-style coffee packs a double punch of caffeine and sugar – by default it’s served with lots of sweetened condensed milk. There’s no such thing as kopi-frappuccino (hmm… business idea!), but if you want it on ice ask for a ‘kopi beng’. Kopi can be found at every hawker centre, foodcourt, and kopitiam and rarely costs more than S$1.20.

Herbal tea: Big metal urns of tea are a common sight outside the traditional medicine shops in Chinatown. The tea is usually quite bitter from the addition of medicinal herbs, but supposed to be good for what ails you. Signage is usually in Mandarin but most shopkeepers will happily explain each tonic tea’s benefits – I was recommended chrysanthemum tea for its cooling properties.

Herbal tonic tea: cheaper than a visit to the doctor.

Barley water: This drink of boiled pearl barley and rock sugar is a traditional Chinese remedy for reducing body heat which makes it a popular drink in Singapore’s hot weather. Since it’s easy to make many Singaporeans brew barley water at home, but you can find it at coffee shops and hawker centres. The taste is mild but the slimy texture definitely takes some getting used to.

Bandung: Look for this bright pink drink at Malay coffee shops like the ones around Arab Street. Bandung may look like Pepto-Bismol, but it’s actually a mixture of milk and rose cordial syrup. Sweet and sticky.

Sugar cane juice: A hand-cranked press turns this tropical grass into a sweet, cheap drink. Sugar cane juice has a very mild flavour and many hawker stalls offer the option of a squeeze of fresh lemon to give it some kick. Fresh-pressed is best and costs S$1–1.50 a cup.

That's how you know it's fresh.

Tiger Beer: An innocuous pale lager with 5% alcohol content, Tiger has been Singapore’s official beer since 1932. Whether you’re paying S$5 at a hawker centre of S$15 at a Clarke Quay bar it’s all the same stuff – brewed at the Asia Pacific Breweries in western Singapore. You can even join a brewery tour.

At S$25, this Singapore Sling costs more than a dorm bed.

Singapore Sling: A ‘girly drink’ if there ever was one, Singapore’s signature cocktail is a mix of gin, cherry brandy, pineapple juice, and bitters, garnished with a pineapple wedge and cherry. Since most bars charge at least S$15 for a Singapore Sling you might as well shell out an extra S$10 to try one at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel where it was allegedly invented.

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “What to drink in Singapore”

  1. Agagoogaon 29 Jun 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Actually “Barley Water” is made from Job’s Tears

  2. [...] staff are happy to explain the healing properties of each. You can also sample the herbal tonics, a uniquely Singaporean drink, dispensed from metal [...]

  3. [...] Sure. Was the Singapore Sling worth the total price of S$29.42? Not really. There are other uniquely Singaporean drinks or bars with better [...]

  4. Alcohol deliveryon 13 Jun 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Great to hear that tiger beer is on the list of Singapore beverages

  5. TheChosenOneon 14 Oct 2012 at 9:26 pm

    DO NOT TRY the Singapore Sling. It’s a tourist trap. And it tastes like crap. $10 for sugar water with a drop of booze. If u really need to, just by the pre-made mix at an liquor store…much more economical.

  6. Tanya Procyshynon 14 Oct 2012 at 11:03 pm

    $10 would be a bargain for a Singapore Sling!

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