White Shades

We sit down with Jiawei Bai, Founder of White Shades, who shares more about Singapore’s unique four-storey cocktail playground, detailing the elements that make the venue stand out from competitors.  

Please tell us about White Shades and the story behind the venue.

White Shades is a progressive cocktail playground, and presents a first-of-its-kind cocktail experience in Singapore. I’ve always wanted to shake things up for cocktail enthusiasts; we’re all about expanding guests’ drinking horizons, from boozy gelatos to one-of-a-kind craft concoctions, and even draft cocktails and beer. Convenience matters to me, so I wanted a place where guests could dive into different concepts and experiences without breaking a sweat. 

The first floor is an ice cream parlour, wine bar and coffee bar – playful vibes with bright colours and pop hits in the background. Move up to Level 2 and visitors find themselves in our bespoke cocktail bar, rocking our new menu, COLOURS. It’s all about elegance here, with soul and R&B tunes setting the mood. Top-notch service is non-negotiable, and it’s the perfect spot for those cosy, intimate chats.

If a guest is all about casual vibes and a faster pace, they can hit up the Rooftop – we’ve got soulful acoustic covers and live music up there. It’s the spot for draft cocktails, beers, soju – and the prices don’t hurt their wallet. 

We also work a lot with brands, and have created an event space on Level 3. The event universe is a blank canvas adorned with ambient ceiling lights that can transform into any colour. Creative minds are invited to fill the space with their imagination, vibe and style, with a customisable setting to suit any branding or occasion. This event space can comfortably accommodate an intimate gathering of 35 pax.

Overall, White Shades is more than just a cocktail venue, it’s a multi-sensory experience.

Please talk us through the bar’s concept and approach, telling readers more about the colour-themed menu.

COLOURS is inspired by the venue’s name, ‘White Shades,’ exploring the colour spectrum through four themes: Clear, Mark, Mood and Flavours. We’ve crafted 22 unique drinks, each infused with individual colours, like an artist with a canvas. In the Clear series, think of next-level clarified cocktails. Clear Yellow is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, sweet corn and a milk-washed mango corn leather, inspired by the local Singaporean sweet corn mango dessert, with a dehydrated crisp mango chip to finish. 

Mark challenges us to use similar-coloured ingredients in our cocktails, like our Black IIII – a creamy twist on the Espresso Martini with Guinness reduction, espresso, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur and burnt coconut oat foam. Moving on to the Mood series, we wanted to capture different vibes – like feeling fresh, lucky or perky. Lastly, Flavours playfully influence taste perceptions. For instance, Sparkling Pearl is a champagne-based cocktail with pickled onion, fruits and herbs that will remind you of the ocean. 

What, in your opinion, sets White Shades apart from competing bars, and what have been the key elements to the bar’s success?

Our bar has become a go-to spot for both regulars and new friends, and I owe it all to my fantastic team for consistently delivering genuine hospitality. We pride ourselves on being approachable, trying to remember faces, and treating everyone like friends. Unlike many cocktail bars that stick to a single atmosphere, White Shades offers a diverse experience across its different levels. 

We’ve got options, whether it’s catching a sunset happy hour on the rooftop with laid-back drinks or transitioning to Level 2 for a dinner and drinks combo. For guests with a sweet tooth, Level 1 has something for them. The beauty is that it’s not just one route, one way to experience White Shades – with each floor offering food and drinks, guests can mix it up whenever they fancy a change.

Drinks aside, our food menu also plays a crucial role in the whole White Shades experience. We’ve elevated European dishes that champion local ingredients. For example, the Pitan showcases a silky century egg tofu snugly wrapped in a flaky French puff pastry shell. We also ensure our menu suits all dietary requirements, with dishes such as the Grilled Eggplant, which comes with crispy cauliflower fried ‘rice’, salsa verde and a savoury goma sauce. 

Desserts are also as creative and beautiful as our cocktails. The Yoghurt Strawmato has a pretty tomato tuile exterior for patrons to crack into, boasting strong flavour punches, with a white chocolate yoghurt mousse and a strawmato confit on top of a crisp yoghurt meringue and a bright tomato sponge. Guests looking for a slightly more adventurous dessert can opt for the green curry Rice Pudding, with chilli oil and a zesty coconut ginger pineapple chutney, topped off with crunchy kaffir lime keropok (crackers). 

How do you stay current and up-to-date with trends in an ever-changing industry?

I’m not a fan of blindly following trends. I constantly encourage my team to think outside the box and stay ahead of the curve. While we do include Mezcal and savoury cocktails in our menu, both of which are trending at the moment, we take it a step further by giving our drinks a distinctive touch. Take, for instance, Fresh Pink – we use a fresh rhubarb stick, a rare ingredient in Singapore, to shake things up. It’s these unexpected ingredients that add that extra layer of uniqueness and excitement.

Please share some current trends in Singapore’s drinks landscape; do you have any words of advice you can pass onto UK venues?

UK, much like Singapore, is a diverse melting pot. The abundance of cultural influences provides an exciting and varied palette, offering us mixologists an opportunity to craft drinks that resonate with our wide array of guests from around the world. We need to stay open to experimentation and fully embrace the wealth of local flavours available to us. As bartenders, unlocking the full potential of different flavours and elements from various cultures is where the magic happens. It builds a connection with your international guests, as it showcases your understanding and celebration of the nuances of their culture. The array of cultural influences provides a fantastic palette to craft drinks that resonate with everyone. Collaborating with chefs can truly elevate both kitchen and bar creations, fostering a synergy that leads to distinctive drinks.



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