We’re beginning to return to bars again, and the boozy among us couldn’t be more thrilled to be whiling away the hours in the comfort of a darkened room. And Junior The Pocket Bar’s new digs, with its 25-seat capacity and hazy lighting offers just that experience. Joe Alessandroni has struck out on his own in taking the institution independent, and is joined by Hazel Long and Peter Chua by the bar.
But Junior the Pocket Bar remains committed to local artisans, adapting a rotating concept whereby the various traditions and flavours of the world’s great drinking cultures are showcased in a modern, localised way. “We wanted to have a core Junior identity so we can keep the fan favourites on the menu, but rotating the concepts keeps us creatively engaged and consistently gives our guests new things to try,” explains Alessandroni.
The current concept, entitled Washi, takes its cues from the bars of Golden Gai, a series of narrow alleyways and tiny drinking holes in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighbourhood which comes alive after dark and well into the early hours of the morning. One cocktail, The Crane, brings together kyoho grape, Sakura vermouth, cognac and lemon; another, The Panda, switches the type of vermouth for a genmaicha flavoured variety (a type of matcha tea), adding to it sparkling sake, botanic vodka and pickled bamboo shoots.
The bar snacks complement the drinks, adding to the Bubble-era Tokyo atmosphere of hedonistic excess. On the menu you’ll find tako wasabi-marinated octopus, roast pumpkin hummus with yellow miso and furikake vegetable crudites, and a hot chicken fried sandwich with Szechuan sauce, purple cabbage slaw and pickled pineapple. It’s diverse enough for Junior to stand out amongst Singapore’s bar offerings, but comforting enough to satiate three-drink hunger pangs.
Junior the Pocket Bar’s new home is in a shophouse on Ann Siang Hill, which architect Matthew Shang has masterfully converted by retaining its high ceilings and heritage finishes whilst adding various contrasting textures, such as padded leather stools, felted wall panelling, marble benchtops. The dim lighting – overhead lamps above two-seater tables, uplighting hidden behind false walls, backlighting behind the rows of booze at the bar – create a faint overall warmth.
Meanwhile, a mural wall, which encompasses the guest seating, will change on a rotating basis, with Junior planning to engage different local artists for the commission as a means of constantly refreshing the space. This, combined with its continually changing menu, is bound to have you coming back regularly.
Junior The Pocket Bar is located at 6 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787, +65 8121 1462, and is open Monday to Saturday, 530-1030pm.