Behind the Bar Snap Shot

The Floor Plan of Singapore's Over-the-Top Potato Head Folk

Daiquiris on the roof? Check. Seasonal veggie burgers down below? Yes, oh yes.

That’s just business as usual at Potato Head Folk, a kooky new concept located in a four-floor 1930s building in downtown Singapore. Like its namesake toy, Potato Head Folk has a lot of faces: Each of the Singapore venture’s bars and concepts focuses on different food and drink options. It’s a complicated setup that sounds impossible to pull off. This ambitious venture wears its varied faces well—and the drinks are worth a trip.

In the Beginning

Potato Head Folk’s parent group already has a couple outposts in Indonesia, including a serious steak restaurant in Jakarta and a beach spot in Bali. London-born and bred Dré Masso, bar operations manager and head mixologist for the Potato Head Group, previously worked at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London and the Irish Bank and Tommy’s in San Francisco. At Potato Head Folk, Masso’s ambitions are sizable. The venue’s concepts include the playful Three Buns dining room, an elegant lounge and the plant-strewn open-air rooftop deck. There’s a separate bar on every level and one kitchen services the different spaces.

Looking Back to Move Forward

The group’s culinary and cocktail approach was inspired by its renovation of a 1939 building. During that portion of the 20th century, classic cocktails and Tiki drinks were at top of mind. Potato Head Folk also makes its own sodas and slushes, the kind of bespoke drinks you’d never see in a convenience store.

Soda Goes Pop

Housemade sodas include ginger beer, sherbet lemonade and cola, none of which are made using preservatives or colorings, according to Masso. The syrups and sodas are often used in long drinks like Tom Collins, the Dark & Stormy and the Moscow Mule. Bottled cocktails, called twists, come in variations such as the Zombie, with multiple rums, and the vodka-and-Lady Grey tea syrup–based Queen La Tea-Fah. Soda creation starts, says Masso, with on-premise slow cooking of syrups made from predominantly local ingredients. Three popular flavors are given their own tweaks. For example, “The cola is made from lavender, coriander seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, ginger and citrus zest,” he notes. The soda preparation has been outsourced to Soul Food Enterprise, a local group that raises funds for children with learning disabilities by helping to educate them about cooking.

Because You Gotta Eat

Innovative and traditional burgers—such as the Honky Tonk made with buttermilk-fried chicken and a “Big Poppa Hot Sauce”—come with innovative sides called Bits and Bobs, a British term for odds and ends. On a recent visit, Jim Meehan of PDT fame called out the burgers, noting that they rival those from New York’s famed Shake Shack. Naughty fries at Potato Head Folk come with spiced béarnaise and hot beef chili. Masso thinks they’re a must-have indulgence.

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.