It isn’t often that a cocktail bar can be described as therapeutic. Yet at The Bar Kakure, a highly intimate 10-seater venue found on the second level of a storied black-and-white colonial bungalow on 29 Scotts Road, that sense of inner healing is exactly what we found.
The reservations-only bar is run by the enigmatic Kazuhiro Chii, known affectionately as Chii-san, who cut his teeth at bars in Japan and Singapore. At Kakure (in Japanese meaning present yet absent), it’s obvious the mastery of his craft has gone beyond mixology.
Elements such as furnishing, lighting, staff mannerisms, and style of hospitality have been given such deep consideration that it has formed part of the identity of the bar. For one, the mood immediately shifts into one of calm the moment you enter through its hidden doors – a deliberate effect orchestrated by its owner.
The way Chii-san interacts with you as well is saliently in step with your vibe. It’s hard to describe how he balances so well being highly attentive yet completely unobtrusive at the same time, and we deeply appreciate this level of astuteness. It’s as if he is able to always balance out the energy you’re giving with his sensible stillness and warmth.
But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Kakure’s cocktails are a highlight in their own right. Classics feature prominently in the beverage programme here, while an equal emphasis has been placed on what Chii-san is known for: refined twists on the classics.
The Black Storm Highball (S$24) is great to start with. With bamboo charcoal and black pepper added to the usual highball mix of whisky and soda, this original creation showcases both boldness and finesse, resulting in an intriguing rendition of a beloved classic that we thoroughly enjoyed.
The Negroni Diablo (S$28) is another original we love. A layered and herbal take on the namesake classic, the black gin float atop the drink is indication alone of how punchy and powerful each sip is going to be, yet tastes sublimely rounded and balanced as a good negroni should.
For something seasonal, go for the Fresh Fruit Cocktails (S$32-$38). It is one that really puts Chii-san’s bartending skills to the challenge. Depending on what produce he has on hand – think Kyoho grapes, musk melon, and Japanese persimmon – he’ll whip up something bespoke and to your taste. It’s a treat not often offered at many bars.
It’ll be remiss not to order a classic here, as Chii-san makes each and every one of them to exacting standards, and with elevated touches to boot. The Old Fashioned (S$28) is perfect as a stiff and comforting nightcap, while his Martini (S$32) is considered to be – without being superfluous – one of the best in Singapore.
If feeling peckish, Kakure offers a good range of nibbles as well as fuller eats. One fantastic item to go with the drinks is the Curry Chicken Lollipop (S$16 for 5 pieces), which scratches that fried chicken itch that inevitably comes up after a few tipples.
Give the crispy and meaty Toro Katsu (S$42) and the highly satisfying Mini Miyazaki Wagyu Curry Rice (S$48) dishes a try too. We’d say that the food here can be filling enough if you want them to. But more importantly, that they are not an afterthought and are highlights on their own terms.
While indulging in good food and drink at Kakure, there is this constant reminder that you’re being well taken care of, through various soft touches and purposeful actions Chii-san carefully executes, often without you knowing.
And therein lies the bar’s magical, therapeutic touch. It’s a true embodiment of how Japanese bars can be as much a place of introspection and meditation as they are a place for top libations and gourmet eats.
It’s as if you have become the main character of a story, and that the world is now revolving around you for a few good moments. Your mind becomes present, and nothing else matters but what’s happening right now in front of you.
In a world in constant entropy, Kakure is proof that there can be a powerful force towards self-betterment and the attainment of something greater than ourselves, achieved one cocktail at a time.
The Bar Kakure is located at Level 2, 29 Scotts Road, Singapore 228224.
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.