SINGAPORE, 1 November 2021 – 28 HongKong Street, Proof & Company’s very own award-winning cocktail bar, turned 10 years old on October 31 2021. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at where we came from and what’s been achieved — and launching a short film titled “You Had To Be Here“.

28 HongKong Street

When 28 HongKong Street co-founders Spencer Forhart, Paul Gabie and Snehal Patel arrived in Singapore they brought with them a love for cocktails, spirits, and the bartending craft. They were enthusiasts of what would soon be called the second golden age of fine drinking. In 2011, this golden age had spread around the world, but a craft approach to cocktails in Singapore was still largely in its infancy.  Save for a few bright spots, the bar scene in the city was a far cry from what was happening in London, Melbourne, and San Francisco.  The trio missed the bar experiences they had at New York cocktail bars like Milk & Honey, Employees Only and Angel’s Share, so they decided to bring to Singapore a little of what they loved from back home.  28 HongKong Street opened on Halloween 2011.

It was an instant success. It took Michael Callahan’s, founding General Manager, experience and our founders’ vision to identify raw local talent and raise their skills to a world-class level.

Michael Callahan, Founding General Manager of 28 HongKong Street

“The novel idea was to create something unique in Singapore and to bring that to the world, rather than bringing something from the world to Singapore, as was the fashion at the time.  To that end, we took international standards, but employed locals and empowered them to make this outlet their story.”

28 HongKong Street pioneered an unwavering commitment to ingredients, preparation, and technique. The bar put in place one of the country’s first high-quality ‘nice ice’ programs, strict use of fresh ingredients, and a culinary approach to making syrups, infusions and more. Many of these principles are the norm these days but weren’t at the time. 28 HongKong Street created the demand for cocktail block ice where there was none before; today it is widely available in Singapore.

Paper Tiger; Alipus Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, dry sherry, Gran Classico Bitter

Another important 28 HongKong Street innovation was to introduce out-of-market craft spirits to Singapore.  The enthusiasm for alternative small batch, artisanal and craft brands was pivotal in marking 28 HongKong Street as a unique experience, enhancing the cocktail offering and cementing the bar’s reputation for creating cocktails with nuance. The demand for these brands also provided the impetus to launch Proof & Company, Asia Pacific’s leading independent spirits company, and subsequent endeavors such as Proof Creative, True Believers, and ecoSPIRITS.

A wall of spirits from around the world

It wasn’t long before the global bar community took notice.  In 2012, 28 HongKong Street’s first full year in operation, the bar made its debut at number 10 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list — quite an accomplishment for a newcomer, in a city about as far away from the traditional cocktail world as one could get.  Not only would 28 HongKong Street stay on that list for seven straight years, but it would soon find a lot of company from other bars across Asia.  Other acknowledgements followed: coveted awards at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards in 2014 and 2015, for Best International Bar and Best International Bar Team respectively.  For a little Singapore cocktail bar to win these awards was a big deal.

A trophy case displays awards and gifts received through the years.

Tales of the Cocktail, Spirited Awards on Display

But it isn’t the 28 HongKong Street way to rest on one’s laurels. The bar adopted an identity and a set of values, created by a remarkable roll call of people across the years who built and evolved 28 HongKong Street. Just look to the many alumni who have gone on to achieve greatness in the industry beyond the bar’s unmarked door.  There must be some magic within the walls.

A proud moment for 28HKS bar captain Lukas Kaufmann

As famed bartender, Steve Schneider recently said: “You know, anyone can be hot for a year or two. But these folks at 28 have done it year in and year out for the last 10 years.”

Serve the community long enough, and a bar can cross the threshold from innovator to institution.  Today it is clear that 28 HongKong Street has crossed that threshold. Born to celebrate the institutions its founders admired, and through its innovations, its ability to inspire others and its longevity, 28 HongKong Street is an institution of fine drinking in Singapore. We’re celebrating a wonderful decade of 28 HongKong Street with this short film here. It is a visual poem and a love letter to 28 HongKong Street that not only commemorates the last 10 years but builds anticipation for what comes next.

The era of Covid remains a challenge for bars around the world, but 28 HongKong Street is looking forward with excitement and ambition. With a team of inspired talent, a desire to provide memorable drinking experiences and a pipeline of creative initiatives ahead, the future looks good, and it looks delicious.

About 28 HongKong Street

Hidden behind an unassuming 1960’s shophouse façade, 28HKS is a word-of-mouth venue for people who might appreciate the kind of venue that we enjoy ourselves: relaxing at the beginning, growing a tad louder as the night goes on. The drinks focus’ is on artisanal spirits and American-style craft cocktails. The food is gussied up American comfort food made from scratch for sharing.

You can visit the venue from 5:00pm to 10:30pm, Monday to Saturday. You can follow the journey on Instagram.