Club 5 at ParkRoyal on Beach Road has been around since the 1980s. If you’ve never heard of the place until now, we don’t blame you. It’s actually somewhat of an institution among the ballroom dance crowd of that era, and until recently, was not primarily a cocktail bar.
In its heydays (and even up till before Covid-19 struck), patrons would regularly come dressed to the nines for a packed revelry. People watched as others danced flamboyantly in pairs on the ringed dancefloor, often with an energy uncanny for their age.
Gone are those days, of course. With dancing and partying no longer an option for clubs in the pandemic age, it makes sense to bank on drinks instead. And that’s exactly what the revitalised Club 5 is all about.
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It now takes on a 1920s Art Deco vibe, transporting guests back in time to a roaring age of dancing and drinking no less glamorous than the time when Club 5 was first born. Now piping through the high-end sound systems are postmodern jazz remixes, a meeting of old and new genres true to the spirit of the venue.
At the helm of its new beverage program is the affable Ong Jun Han, formerly from Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall, who expertly mixes up a menu that pays homage to both the history of Club 5 and to the area surrounding ParkRoyal on Beach Road.
The cocktail menu is divided into three main sections – Beach Road, Arab Street and Bugis Junction – all named after places in proximity to the bar. Under each section find five drinks (one a non-alcoholic option) to choose from.
Try the 20 Houses Tonic (S$18). This take on the (you guessed it) Gin & Tonic has been enhanced to address how the ubiquitous cocktail can often be too bland. To overcome this, Ong aromatised his gin with spices, then allowed for a greater ratio of gin to tonic in his recipe. The result is a G&T that stays enjoyable to the senses till the last sip.
Another signature is the Boogie Street (S$22). This purple-hued rendition of a gin sour packs a punch thanks to good use of mezcal and apricot brandy. The colour and presentation is also befitting of the elegance and pomp of the revellers who used to fill the exact same space.
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Our favourite is the Paper Flames (S$24). Not a riff on a Paper Plane as the name might suggest, but actually a spin on the Manhattan, this cocktail is one for those among you who enjoy peat and intensity in your drinks. It comes with a cheeky backstory too. Just ask your bartender about it when ordering.
For nibbles to go with your libations, a compact but satisfying menu of Singapore-inspired eats is available. Find elevated versions of kueh pie tee and har cheong kai to munch on, but what we’d highly recommend is the Homemade Wagyu Satay with Hazelnut Dip (S$15). There’s nothing quite like hearty grilled meats to go with drinks.
The Asian Chips with Balado Sambal (S$10), essentially an assortment of keropok served with sambal chilli dip, will also sort out any cravings you might have. But be warned: It’s highly addictive.
As nightspots emerge from the tribulations of the pandemic, it’s nice to see them not just pivot to survive, but strive to be something more, as Club 5 has done, by using its past as inspiration rather than baggage.
The storied venue was once a hotspot for a bygone era of partygoers, and while it’ll be attracting a different demographic of craft cocktail drinkers now, we think they’ve done the place justice by shaking things up, all while maintaining a healthy dose of comforting nostalgia.
Club 5 is located at ParkRoyal on Beach Road, 1/F, 7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591.
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.