Review: Revival shakes up fun, delicious cocktails named after art pieces

July 1, 2022 By Lu Yawen
Review: Revival shakes up fun, delicious cocktails named after art pieces
Photo: Lu Yawen/HungryGoWhere
  • Revival is a cocktail bar on the quiet end of Robertson Quay by bar veterans The Compound Collective
  • With plenty of plush seating, the mood is laidback and unpretentious 
  • Named after art pieces, its tipples are exciting and fun to drink 
  • The selection of food, though, was lacklustre

There’s not much you can find about Revival on the internet. 

Opened earlier this year, the cocktail bar has popped up where you’d least expect it — a residential building in the Robertson Quay district. 

Taking up a sort of curved space, most of the action happens on the ground floor (The Main Room), where soft pastel-coloured booths and teal counter seats face a high-ceilinged bar. 

The interior is fitted with glitzy art deco furnishings, including carpeted stairs leading to two smaller booths (The Sanctuary) and a “confession booth” for one on the second storey

The bar’s named after revival art (art styles inspired by classic art movements) and its cocktails take after famous paintings by the late French artist Claude Monet and Spanish painter Picasso. 

For big groups, four punch-bowl-style mixes are available in 1L and 2L formats. 

There is, however, nothing pretentious about the warm service offered. So don’t be shy to get the bartenders to explain the somewhat complex tipples on the menu.

When the sun goes down, move out to the al fresco area (The Garden) for even more privacy, as we did during our visit on a weeknight. Far removed from the flurry of activity across the road, it proved to be a great spot for people-watching. 

Revival Bar_interior2
The Main Room. Photo: Lu Yawen/HungryGoWhere

Before we go on, here’s the backstory.

Opened by Celia Schoonraad, Michael Callahan and Roman Foltan from The Compound Collective — the same people behind swanky cocktail bar Barbary Coast — Revival sure looks the part of a charismatic and suave sibling. 

The trio are veterans in the industry with decades of experience — including founding prize-winning speakeasy 28 HongKong Street — so you can be sure they’ve got the formula for a successful cocktail bar down pat. 

It also means that they have special access to a whisky fund, allowing Revival to double up as a retail space for rare spirits, displayed at the main bar and on the shelves along the stairs. In addition to the full Game of Thrones single-malt scotch whisky collection, there are hard-to-come-by Japanese whiskies, such as Hibiki. 

The bar also offers the service of buying whisky by the cask on request. The liquor can be stored and aged at a few distilleries before they’re finally bottled and sent to Revival to be opened.

Revival bar_drinks
The Lady of Shalott (left) and The Liver is the Cock’s Comb. Photo: Lu Yawen/HungryGoWhere

Our verdict

 

What this place is good for 

Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails. When we visited, its launch menu lists 16 concoctions that take after tipples we’re familiar with, including the pisco sour, old fashioned, and negroni. In the weeks to follow, we’re told the bar will be adding more to the selection. 

We took a fair amount of time to decide which to get, going through the flavour combinations in our minds based on the descriptions offered. Eventually, intrigued by the ingredients, we started with The Liver is the Cock’s Comb and The Lady of Shalott (S$22 each). 

Both arrived in impossibly elegant coupe glasses with an exaggerated thin stem, along with a snack bowl of lightly salted pretzels. 

The Lady of Shalott smelled of summer with red berries and lily, while the oat milk distillate rounded off the Plantation 3 Stars white rum in it. The Liver is the Cock’s Comb, by comparison, was a tangy version of a pisco sour made sweeter with Lustau Fino sherry and sweetcorn. 

Moving onto more robust flavours for our next round, we had Esfinge “The Sphinx” and The Scream (S$22 each). The Sphinx was a deliciously savoury and complex mix of carrot ferment, ginger, honey, acid and Ichiiko Saiten shochu that was gently fizzed with CO2. 

The spiciest of them all was The Scream, a fiery take on the margarita and bloody Mary combined, made with Ardbeg whisky, Codigo 1530 Blanco tequila, smoky Ancho Reyes chilli liqueur, chipotle distillate, red capsicum, lime, and agave. A sole kaffir lime leaf serves as garnish. 

To enjoy this drink, take a lick of the circle of paprika salt on the side of the glass for a kick of heat, then sip the concoction. 

With prices slightly lower than the average cocktail elsewhere, we also appreciated that there wasn’t an over-intellectualisation of the drinks, even though they’re named after art. There’s also no mention of the equipment used on the menu — the cocktails speak for themselves, and they do that pretty well. 

The Scream (left) and Esfinge “The Sphinx”. Photo: Lu Yawen/HungryGoWhere

What it could improve on 

The food options, however, came across almost as an afterthought. 

Perhaps food isn’t a priority for an establishment focused on being a cocktail bar, but it feels like a missed opportunity. 

Among the few items on the menu, there’s a S$60 cheeseboard and charcuterie platter of Barbary Coast fame, vegetable dishes for snacking, and roast beef and pork spag bol jaffle (spaghetti bolognese in a closed toasted sandwich). 

We got the smoked salmon roll (S$18), which came as four measly slices of toasted bread with rolls of the smoked fish on top. 

In comparison to the restaurants across the road and an incredibly authentic Vietnamese eatery around the corner — where one can get a full dish at this price — this was lacklustre.

Smoked Salmon Roll
Smoked salmon roll. Photo: Lu Yawen/HungryGoWhere

Our quick takes 

Is it conducive to conversation? When it’s less crowded, the Main Room has plenty of corners to sink into for a good conversation. But given its limited indoor space, an al fresco sofa would be your best bet. 

Is a reservation necessary? Yes. Although it was quiet when we went, we’ve no doubt that once word gets out, this hideaway will be frequented by cocktail fiends. 

Takeaway recommendations? Revival does not have bottled cocktails at the moment. 

How to get there? There are many bus services that can take you there from the Orchard shopping district. Otherwise, walking from the Fort Canning MRT station will take you only five minutes.

Things to note: 

  • There isn’t exactly a signboard at the bar, but look out for its R logo on the floor or the big bar counter that’s hard to miss. 
  • Smoking is allowed in the al fresco area, so if you want to avoid that, it’s best to sit indoors. 
  • The Sanctuary on the second floor is open only for private parties and events, but Foltan will give you a tour upstairs if you ask nicely. 
  • Revival extends a 10 per cent discount to people working in the bar industry.

HungryGoWhere paid for its visit to this bar for this review.

Book a ride to Revival.

Revival

UE Square Residences (Park Wing), 01-76, 205 River Valley Road
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (5pm to 12am), Sunday (4pm to 10.30pm)

UE Square Residences (Park Wing), 01-76, 205 River Valley Road
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (5pm to 12am), Sunday (4pm to 10.30pm)


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