A bar built on mystery and the future: introducing Singapore’s Night Hawk

Lennard Yeong - 07/08/2023

Singapore’s Night Hawk may be only one year old, but it has already accumulated a slew of accolades, including the No.73 spot on the extended list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 and the acclaimed Campari One To Watch Award. 50 Best gets a glimpse behind the scenes guided by founder Peter Chua

Night Hawk’s success should come as no surprise to those who recognise its chief bartender and owner, Peter Chua. He is a familiar figure in the Singaporean bar scene, having launched popular concepts such as Junior The Pocket Bar and Nemesis. Night Hawk was his newest opening in May 2022, its name inspired by American artist Edward Hopper’s mid-century masterpiece of almost the same name.

“Night Hawk is a 25-seater immersive cocktail bar that tackles the paradox of blending the past, present and future into an intimate and impressive venue,” begins Chua. “The idea was to bring back a certain type of venue that has been neglected for a while now in the Singapore bar scene: an immersive place that creates a sense of escapism.”

The bar delivers on this point from the start. Hidden behind an unmarked door recognisable only from the insignia of a hawk, you'll be greeted by a speakeasy with a sleek, mysterious design. The dark green marble hues and warm lighting contribute to its enigmatic atmosphere, while lining the walls and even under the bar counter you’ll find layered, textured metallic surfaces, adding another layer of curiosity and intrigue. There are no windows in the bar, and stepping in truly feels like you’re leaving the crowded streets of Singapore behind and immersing yourself into another world.A50BB23-OTW-incopy-1
Night Hawk's interior is accented by futurist furnishings and moody hues, inspired by the aesthetics of the namesake 1942 painting by Edward Hopper

Spend a couple of minutes in the space and you'll soon observe that Night Hawk feels very much like an eclectic venue. The design of the space has both retro and futuristic elements; the cocktail menu is inspired by classics but uses plenty of modern techniques; the bar food draws from American staples but is injected with Asian flavours; and the signature cocktail comprises a cold shaken drink topped with hot coconut foam. There are multiple juxtapositions at play, but all are beautifully curated to create a seamless and unique experience for the guest.

The bar draws on two core concepts behind Hopper’s artwork: urban alienation, or the ability to feel alone in a city filled with millions of people, and voyeurism, the secret viewing of a subject. “Bars are good places to create a sense of urban alienation and escapism, and it is easy to get lost in time while you are having fun at a bar,” says the Singaporean bartender. “The voyeurism part comes through those who observe you having fun at the bar, such as other patrons and the service staff, almost as though they were prying into your private life.”

Time is also a core concept of the bar, as it utilises ideas from the past and present, as well as predicting future trends. Night Hawk is where all of Chua’s ideas converge in one place: it may sound highly philosophical, but it comes together in a cohesive manner once you have a drink at the bar – the puzzle pieces falling into place.

You can expect fun, innovative cocktails on the menu with quirky names like Gamma Ray Holiday (a modern twist on the Midori Sour, but injected with flavours like bitter gourd) and Savour The Future 2.0 (a modern take on the dirty martini, where the savoury flavours are brought in through miso and dashi instead of the traditional olive juice). Unique flavours like miso, peanut butter or green chilli also feature throughout the menu.
The Gamma Ray Holiday, Night Hawk's twist on the Midori Sour, is one of the bar's many reinventions of classic concoctions

The team takes pride in everything it does, with a level of precision befitting a venue that has won acclaim so quickly, even as you observe the bartenders topping off a cocktail with a scoop of ice cream. Playfulness may be apparent, but delve a little deeper and you’ll notice that everything is executed with finesse, resulting in delicious and well-crafted drinks.

If you're feeling peckish, there is a small menu of bar snacks of American classics with an Asian edge. A prime example is the sriracha mac and cheese: who wouldn't love pasta tossed with a creamy, cheesy sauce, but with a spicy kick? If you need something a bit more substantial, the Wagyu double cheeseburger is a decadent option that will certainly help you handle a few more cocktails afterwards.
The small-but-mighty team at Night Hawk, led by Chua, maximises the bar's minimal covers to deliver an intimate and highly personalised hospitality package

Sustainability is also a big point of consideration for Chua when creating the menu, ensuring that every garnish is either edible or reusable and choosing ingredients that are sustainable as well. The quietly confident Night Hawk staff are more than happy to give you more detail if you ask, but they also don't overextend, allowing the quality of the product and concept to do most of the talking for itself.

The venue’s small size, accommodating only 25 seats, enhances intimacy and enables meaningful interactions between guests and bartenders, so don't be surprised if you're ordering drinks purely off your bartender’s recommendations. “Having that intimacy helps create relationships between guests and the staff, which in turn allows them to create meaningful and genuine interactions,” says Chua.

Whether you are a cocktail connoisseur or just someone looking for an escape, Night Hawk promises an unforgettable journey into a different world, making it a must-visit when you’re in Singapore.

The list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023, sponsored by Perrier, was announced on Tuesday, 18th July at a live awards ceremony at Rosewood Hong Kong. To stay up to date with all news and announcements, browse the website and follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.