Blink and you’ll miss it. If you’re walking along Kampong Glam after feasting on some Briyani and
need a cozy hideaway to unwind over some mind-blowing cocktails keep your eyes open for IB HQ
which is well hidden along the rows of shophouses on North Bridge road.
Run by a husband and wife team, Kamil Foltan who is originally from the Czech Republic and Zurina
Bryant from Tasmania, IB HQ was born from an idea two years in the making after creating a website
called Indigenuous Bartender in 2016 to showcase their insights and culinary approaches into
traditional cocktail flavours and ingredients.
The décor at IB HQ is minimalist with a vibe vaguely similar to the obscure bars in the Golden Gai
district of Tokyo or better known as ‘Piss Alley’.
While many ‘new age’ bars try to impress you with their bartenders’ flaring skills or dashing good
looks, IB HQ gets to the heart of the cocktail through their deconstructive approach by letting
customers sample three different variations of a particular cocktail if they purchase a cocktail flight.
As part of old-fashioned week, I was given the opportunity to sample a cocktail flight for the ‘Musa’,
which is made from Banana Whisky, Maple Syrup and Xocolatl Bitters. I was sold at ‘Banana Whisky’.
With more than a decade in the F&B industry and working behind well known bars such as Potato
Head in Bali, Kamil has a strong penchant for experimentation in his pursuit of the perfect cocktail.
All of IB HQ’s flavoured syrups, whiskies, gins, tequilas and vodkas are made in house by infusing
natural ingredients using his state-of-the-art laboratory equipment located in the attic of IB HQ
which I had the honour of seeing for myself.
Coming back to the ‘Musa’, I was particular impressed that this cocktail was not overpoweringly
sweet given its concoction of maple syrup and banana whisky, but well balanced. To be honest I
could have had the banana whisky just on its own.
Another great number is the ‘Osthmanthus Gimlet’ made from London Dry Gin and and a semi
sweet syrup made from Osthmanthus jelly. Like the Musa it was not overly sweet and had a nice
mellow flavour. Something I would have for a night cap.
And if you’re into something more traditional don’t worry they have the classics as well. I had the
best Whisky Sour in my life.
Smaller spaces, More Choices
With more specialised cocktail bars springing up, Kamil feels that this is a new trend for Singapore’s
“A lot of large clubs are moving out and standalone operators are setting up shop so the trend
seems to be moving towards smaller spaces,” said Kamil.
Moving forward, IB HQ plans to sell their product range of homemade syrups with unique flavours
apart from Osmanthus cordial, Strawberry & Balsamic shrub to Hibiscus Cola Syrup.
In the meantime, visitors to IB HQ can experience an evolving drinks menu which changes every
month. Look out for more cocktails with yuzu, parsnip, pineapple and even a matcha infused gin coming up pretty soon. If you’re up for an adventure just whisper to the bartender “Flight 774A” to
sample a flight, which is three variations from a selected liquor of the month. Trust me you won’t be
774A North Bridge Road