Singapore-based A Phat Cat Collective has always been known for their nostalgia-inducing, bangin’ nightlife establishments the likes of Nineteen80 and Pinball Wizard.
The dancefloors (and free-to-play retro arcade machines) at their venues are always occupied by revelers with a penchant for the amorphous ‘good ol’ days’. Having struck the right chord with their demographic, they soon found themselves ripe for further expansion. But that was pre-pandemic days.
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When Covid-19 derailed their plans, and dancefloors at clubs became a thing of the past, they swiftly adapted their offerings to suit the new normal. Thus Rails in its current form was born. Initially scheduled to open in April 2020 as a bar and dance club, it is now launched as a vibe dining and drinking spot.
Located within a shophouse space adjoining Nineteen80, the cocktail-focused bar has now taken on a more loungy, drinking direction, and that’s something we’re actually more excited about.
The first thing that’ll strike you upon entering Rails is the design of the space. With concave interiors, dim mood lighting, and a train platform aesthetic reminiscent of underground railway stations in the Victorian era, you’ll easily feel like you’ve left Singapore and arrived somewhere else.
Add to that steampunk elements like gears and cogwheels, a LED-lit clocktower installation, and long bar counter with exposed pipelines, and you’ve got yourself a haunt that’s thematic enough without going overboard.
While many might come for the vibes, we think it’s the drinks you’ll stay for. From the cocktail menu find the selection split into four sections that are essentially sorted by sparkling, milky, spirit-forward, and experimental categories.
For starters, try the Jinrikisha Spritzer (S$18), their take on a gin rickey, made using their own honey-fermented lemon and preserved lime peel. There’s coconut water in there too in addition to soda water, for an added refreshing quality plus slight salinity that’s perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
We find more drinks to love from the spirit-forward and experimental sections. The Portmanteau (S$18) is an easy favourite. The boulevardier-like drink is herbaceous, stiff, and deep, thanks to good use of port and Amaro, and is perfect for sipping while letting the aromas linger in your mouth.
Or go hard with the Steamed & Hammered (S$25). The rum-based drink is made with sweet vermouth, elderflower liqueur, and umami bitters, and is great for ‘getting you there’ while offering layers and complexity to savour slowly.
In their other drinks find quirky ingredients being used – from pi pa gao to activated charcoal, arrack to smoked vodka – that show off how daring and creative the bar team at Rails can be.
It’ll be remiss not to mention the food too. The kitchen at Rails is actually run by Chix Hot Chicken, which specialises in Nashville-style fried chicken, making this their second outpost after the original Jalan Pisang store. Their brand of hearty, comforting nosh makes for great drinking food here.
In this tweaked menu of their original, find sandwiches, sliders and of course, their signature Hot Wings (S$9.90 for three; comes in different spiciness levels) available, that will equally suit diners looking for a full meal or finger food. Definitely try the Dirty Taters (S$9.90), a serving of tater tots and chicken bits drenched generously in cheddar and gouda sauce.
It’s heartening to see a well thought-out concept like Rails arrive on the scene. An amalgamation of steampunk themes, craft cocktails and unabashedly sinful grub, it’s a good show of how seemingly unrelated pieces can come together to form an amazing whole that stays true to A Phat Cat Collective’s core of just letting people have a good time.
Rails is located at #01-02, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088444.
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 little detail of Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations at his home bar.