One dusky Sunday in late October, I found myself sampling wine and having a good ol’ natter with Corrine, the idyllic brains behind Druggists. Now, most craft beer lovers in Singapore will be familiar with Druggists. They will also be scratching their heads… wine tasting? At a beer joint? Well yes, but allow me to start from the beginning.
Farrer Park is the first and only neighbourhood I have called home since moving to Singapore more than two years ago. The area has a lot going for it. Accommodation is cheapish and close to the city, public transport is excellent, there are more than a few great eateries, and you can even get a decent cup of coffee!
However, Farrer Park has a really sucky bar scene if you are a wine drinker like me. I have dedicated most of this year to unearthing every possible place that serves wine in the vicinity, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. The results were devastating. Yes, you can get an okay bottle of wine at Black Fairy or cheap organic prosecco at Mahota, but these places close damn early. No good for a night owl like me.
The most happening place in Farrer Park has always been Druggists, a craft beer house along Tyrwhitt Road. Housed in a magnificent pre-war shop owned by the Chinese Druggist Association, it possesses a quietly confident charm steeped in history. When I finally had the occasion to meet Corrine, one of the owners, she shared a little bit of the area’s history with me. Many, many years ago, when Tyrwhitt Road was called Fisher Road, the strip abounded in abattoirs. Farrer Park was the place you came to get your dead meat! Later on, it evolved into a hardware district with lots of little shop houses selling nails, tools and other industrial bits and bobs. The remnants of this are still evident today, particularly in the converted CSHH Cafe (an acronym for Chye Seng Huat Hardware) across the road.
Fast forward to present times and you could say that Farrer Park is the new Tiong Bahru, youthful and chic but with a healthy appreciation for the past. Druggists proudly displays its own history in the form of 85-year old drawing plans on white-washed walls. Colourful geometric shapes sweep the bar floor as the current interior has been renovated to incorporate some modern elements too. For Corrine, achieving a gender-neutral feel was key. Too many beer houses are butch and bloke-like, assuming only beefy male stereotypes like to drink beer. At Druggists everything from the music and bar counter to the cool-toned furniture is unassuming and unpretentious. But that’s not why the place is so popular.
Aside from staying awake until the wee hours, Druggists boasts an eclectic selection of craft beers. Too bad I hate beer! I sent several pleading messages via Facebook to Druggists, imploring them to add drinkable wine – available by the glass – to their menu so I could also hang out there till late. Druggists, was after all, still my local bar. Surprisingly, they obliged! And so brings me to that fateful Sunday afternoon.
Corrine was there with her welcoming smile. She bought over two bottles of white wine, which she ordered according to my preferences. In other words, easy-drinking wine with a mellow-yellow colour and not from Australia. Don’t you know that cheap Australian whites taste nasty? Corrine invited me to sample both whites and make a recommendation on which one should be added to the menu. Now, this is what neighbourhood business is all about – actually listening to the customers and inviting them to help shape the product offering.
The first bottle of wine Corrine opened was a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile named Alto. The wine tasted pleasant and I enjoyed my first few sips. However, it had a musky finish. I deemed it was a little too fragrant to drink easily in the hot Singapore climate.
The second wine I sampled was a Pinot Grigio from Italy, a smooth table wine that was not too tart and easy drinking. Sold!
I’m pleased to say that I can now hang out at my local pub, Druggists and enjoy a chilled glass of Borgo San Leo. If this isn’t happiness, I’m not sure what is. Thank you to Corrine and the Druggists’ team for the opportunity!
119 Tyrwhitt Road