Reviewed by Shanky
28 Boat Quay
Tel: +65 538 3029
Known as the place where Nick Leeson had his last drink (ok, not really, but he was a regular here), your first impression when you walk up to Harry’s is that it seems populated entirely by expatriate bankers. It’s not quite an incorrect impression – Harry’s is one of the nearest watering holes to the financial doings of Shenton Way; the second outlet in Boat Quay (or the second last, depending) just a short hop away from Raffles Place MRT.
This is a pub for atmosphere. Warm, cosy, old world charm permeates. The building itself is a restored shophouse of some character, including the original façade and shuttered windows. There’s open air seating quayside under umbrellas, with a nice view of the Singapore Parliament (and the newly restored and seven-starred Singapore Post Office) on the other side of the river. When it rains or warms up, however, inside is a better choice.
The pub inside has two levels, both with very distinct characteristics. The lower level is open, lively, messy, crowded and noisy. It’s also not air conditioned. There’s a live jazz band which is quite good, but kills all conversation in the small space. The real treasure of this place is the less obvious upstairs. The upper level is what one calls a living room pub – with huge generous sofas and wall decor meant to resemble the living room of a house. And resemble it does – even the music system is arranged on a shelf like in a home. The music is soft, and there isn’t really a DJ – you can just reach out to the sound system and change the CD (something that surprisingly does not lead to anarchy). To top it all, there’s probably the only free pool table in Singapore (but the sign says that you should buy drinks when playing).
You get a wide variety of drinks here and it even has Cuban cigars. There’s the usual range of interesting munchies, and peppy service. Upstairs is a very pleasant place if you want to have drinks and conversation, since the huge deep sofas inspire the outpourings of secrets. Downstairs is for noise and dancing and pub crawling. If you like snob value, Harry’s has a lot of awards – Newsweek International’s “World’s Best Bar”, 1995 and more recently, Great Heineken Bar of the World 1999.