Employee’s Only: A Speakeasy In The Heart Of SG

New York’s famed watering hole lands in Singapore

By Nicole-Marie Ng; Photos: Employee’s Only

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Have the bartenders mix you a bespoke cocktail.

Beyond the pink neon sign that reads ‘Psychic’, lies a bar that will take you back to the 1920s Prohibition era. Employee’s Only is a legendary cocktail bar from Manhattan that has won numerous accolades over the years, including the honour of “Best Bar in the World” from Tales of the Cocktail in 2011.

The bar is lauded as one of the originators of the craft cocktail movement in America, creating bespoke cocktails since 2004.

The outlet in Singapore is the second Employee’s Only worldwide and many of the key members have moved over from New York to run the establishment here.

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Amelia

From NY to SG

Steve Schneider, Employee’s Only award-winning principal bartender and star of the 2013 documentary “Hey Bartender”, moved to Singapore after spending eight years mixing drinks in New York. He spends six nights a week behind the bar but makes sure to spend one night on the floor — mingling with guests as he whips up the bar’s signature steak tartare.

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Ready Aim Fire

As the last rays of the evening light streams in through the sunroof, savour NY favourites like Amelia ($25), a sweet aperitif of Aylesbury Duck vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, blackberries and lemon juice. In contrast, Ready Aim Fire ($25) is a smoky and robust cocktail that leaves a fiery aftertaste well after your final sip.

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For food, try the Bone Marrow Poppers or Hand Cut Steak Tartare (pictured).

Dinner and drinks

Most of the food and drink available on the Singapore menu are tried and true classics brought over from New York. Executive Chef Julia Jaksic spent weeks training the Singapore team before flying back to helm the West Village kitchen.

Some kitchen signatures include Bone Marrow Poppers ($15), Hand Cut Steak Tartare ($27) and Bacon Wrapped Lamb Chops ($32).

While the portion of the Bone Marrow Poppers could be bigger — only three morsels are served per plate — each bite was a creamy, buttery delight. The Hand Cut Steak Tartare was the standout dish of the night. Prepared tableside, your friendly waiter will mash the tartare with a spicy mix of chopped shallots, jalapenos and a homemade hot sauce. Spread the mixture over the thin and crisp pieces of crostini and you’ll find that this appetizer is good enough to have as a main.

For hardworking employees

For workaholics who come in after 10pm, take your pick from the late night menu. With a focus on hearty comfort food like Truffled Grilled Cheese with Parmesan Fries and EO Dry Aged Burger, the late night menu trades sophistication for satisfying grub that will hit the spot.

Stay till late to be treated to a nourishing bowl of chicken soup as the night draws to a close. This tradition is part of time-honoured ritual at Employee’s Only in New York City that has now been passed down to hardworking Singaporean employees.

Employee’s Only, 112 Amoy Street.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 156, July 22 – August 4, 2016, with the headline ‘A speakeasy straight out of the Prohibition era’.

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