Singapore's Night Hawk Wins First-Ever Design Award From World's 50 Best Bars

For those who like their cocktails with a side of artistic whimsy, the Singapore-based bar Night Hawk delivers the tall order with sleek aplomb. Part mid-century modern homage, part "Blade Runner" dystopian fantasy, the bar's signature look draws direct inspiration from Edward Hopper's famous "Nighthawks" painting from 1942. The painting exemplifies themes of urban isolation and voyeurism, as the onlooker is invited to peer through the window of a restaurant, where late-night diners sit aloof, drinking coffee. Here, the bar offers similar ideas but filtered through a modern, high-tech prism. Unsurprisingly, this big design swing has paid off for Night Hawk, which earned 2023's Bareksten Best Bar Design Award from The World's 50 Best list.

The award is a brand new 50 Best accolade, highlighting outstanding design from a bar that may not have made the traditional 50 Best Bars list. The mastermind behind the Night Hawk style is Peter Chua, the bar director and owner, who worked alongside architect Studio DinDing. In an interview with The World's 50 Best, Chua said, "The idea was to bring back a certain type of venue that has been neglected for a while now in the Singapore bar scene: an immersive place that creates a sense of escapism." Even with its outlandish blending of nostalgic and futuristic touches, the space itself is deceptively compact. The bar features just 25 seats, with collapsable tables and chairs waiting in the wings to accommodate a larger group. So what delicious details was Chua able to pack into this jewel-box-sized bar? 

A bar that takes inspiration from Edward Hopper

There are plenty of textural contrasts within the bar. Cool metal walls are layered with oblong mirrors, while warm wood frames the sunny yellow liquor shelves and green velvet-clad chairs. Red wall panels play off the hot orange bar stools, adding some neon pop to more sedate touches like the tasteful verdant marble countertop. Windowless, the only light that punctuates the bar is from the amber globe lamp fixtures and muted recessed lighting. It all feels like a nod toward the glitz and glamor associated with the 1950s and 1960s space age design — a retro yet futuristic style. 

The futuristic elements aren't limited to design details either. The drinks are intended to be ahead of the cultural curve, with a cocktail list littered with cutting-edge ingredients and techniques. For example, the Savour The Future 2.0 is a martini that trades miso and dashi for the traditional olive brine, and the namesake cocktail Nighthawks, features MSG and hot coconut foam alongside liqueurs like Amaro, vodka, and rum. Even the bar's equipment is tech-savvy, with a glass-by-glass chiller system, which eliminates the need for bulkier refrigerators and a carbonation machine to provide bubbles on demand. The perfect blend of something old and something new, Night Hawk is the elevated standard for bar design.