Singapore’s cocktail leaders launch financial support programme for bars and bar staff

Vivian Pei - 15/06/2020

Vivian Pei, The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy Chair for Asia, and other Singapore-based cocktail luminaries have come together to form non-profit organisation Singapore Cocktail Bar Association (SCBA) in support of the city-state’s bars. Pei takes you through the genesis of the new project and explains how the organisation will operate

A couple of months ago, I got a phone call from Guoyi Gan, co-founder of Jigger & Pony, the bar which took the No.1 spot in the recent Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, sponsored by Perrier. She raised the issue of the current struggles faced by the bar community and voiced her desire to create a relief fund. I had also been thinking along similar lines and was trying to figure out how best to help the industry; I wholeheartedly agreed and we went from there. Ivy Woo of media agency Food News was already in the loop, Paul Gabie from 28 Hongkong Street and Proof & Co. was quickly recruited followed by Andrew Yap, the co-owner of The Old Man Singapore, which has just won London Essence Best New Opening at the latest 50 Best awards.

We had our first (virtual) meeting and were pretty much all on the same page: that we want to provide support to those in need in the cocktail sector. The Singapore bar community is tight-knit and we felt the need to take care of our own.

So, we came up with the following. The SCBA's objectives are straightforward:

1/ Make sure that as many people as possible can receive support. On an individual level, relief will be given not only to Singaporeans, but also to international citizens who have suffered a loss of income. This point is important as without foreign talent, the Singapore bar scene would not be what it is. Currently, those foreigners who have lost income receive no assistance from the government.

2/ Ensure the most vulnerable businesses get backing. New, independent bars that have been open less than a year are also eligible for assistance as they are deemed most at risk.

3/ Provide expertise to those that need it. We have planned a recovery programme that will help venues once they are allowed to open and includes the offer of free marketing expertise, photography services and communication advice.

How are we going to fund this? First, we are approaching brands (in fact, some have already approached us) for donations towards this cause. We have lofty goals, but this is the time to be bold - and it never hurts to ask. We have also been in discussions with Enterprise SG to be able to benefit from government funding. The STEER (SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience) programme will match S$1 for every S$2 raised if the funds are dispersed to companies, so we are looking to be able to take advantage of that. Later, the bars who become SCBA members will have to pay dues but this will not be until 2021 and the amount will be reasonable. We want to make sure this association is as inclusive as possible.        

There are three relief brackets: a Bar Support Fund that will provide money to businesses; a Bar Staff Support Fund that supports individuals; and Industry Recovery Fund that aims to provide further recovery support for both businesses and individuals. Funds will begin to be disbursed at the end of June, beginning with the individual-focussed Bar Staff Support fund.

We have longer-term goals, too. Once all the Covid-19 madness has calmed down a bit, we aim to become an ongoing support system for the bar sector by providing resources for educational and career opportunities. This is how we can ensure that the Singapore cocktail industry not only survives this pandemic, but thrives and continues to be make the city one of the cocktail capitals of the world.

For more information, to enquire about eligibility, or if you would like to help support the work of SCBA, please contact the relevant board member, below:

- For information and to assess your eligibility for donation:
- For funding support:
- For media coverage and partnership (in kind) support:
- For all other support:

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