Live Twice – Tokyo Reimagined in Singapore

The year is 1960 in Tokyo and a young man is seated in a dimly lit corner of the bar, under the soft glow of a lamp, flipping absentmindedly through the pages of Aizu Yaichi’s Rokumeishu.

He welcomes the distraction of finely dressed young men and women drifting in and out of laughter in a haze of cigar smoke, drinking Dubbonets and Southsides in post-war Ginza. It’s time to grab himself another drink. What will it be? Perhaps a Vesper. 

The room is alive with hushed voices and clinking glasses, heady libations being served to men and women seated in Falcon armchairs, telling each other stories of the decades gone by. Stories of struggle, trial, and of love lost and found. 

From the corner of his eye, he catches movement. Seated in the opposite corner of the room, head resting against the plywood wall, was his childhood love Kiyoko. There she was, her porcelain glow made sweeter under the soft light of the washi paper lamp. Is that a tear on her cheek?

He moves nervously and starts towards her. One warm sake and a Vesper down, he feels the time is right. As he spends 5 precious seconds debating over his decision to save his childhood love from her obvious torment, she takes the last sip of the Mizuwari, sets the earthen cup down, and leaves. He didn’t go after her. Maybe this was meant to be. A fleeting glimpse, to allow him the time and space to feel deeply. 

From that day on, he came back to the bar every day for he knew that one day, she would return. And she did. 

It’s 2020 in Singapore. Daigo is at the bar, telling the bartender the story about how his grandparents met 60 years ago at a bar “just like this” in Tokyo, and rekindled a long forgotten love story. 

Welcome to Live Twice. 

One of Singapore’s most recent entrants to the vibrant cocktail scene, Live Twice is a labour of love by the same team that brings you award winning bar Jigger & Pony (#1 Asia’s 50 Best Bars, 2020). Power couple Indra Kantono and Guo Yi envisioned Live Twice as an homage to Japanese craftsmanship in design and the culinary arts.

Inspiration struck Indra when he came across a Monocle feature about Tokyo’s  Hotel Okura and its final demolition in 2015, marking the end of an era.  

Open in 1952, Hotel Okura was Tokyo’s prized possession in the post-war era; a treasure-trove of aesthetic touches that combined traditional techniques with modern design. Okura exemplified the finest of Japanese craftsmanship in design as well as the culinary arts, with the Orchid Bar serving drinks with a “quiet precision” that the Japanese people are known and loved for. 

The Okura epitomised hospitality that went beyond the mechanical and the obvious. It was the finer detail and the focus on retaining authentic craftsmanship and design at a time when Japan was on the precipice of globalisation – both cultural and economic, that made it so monumental. 

Indra and Guo Yi embraced the romance of Hotel Okura and embarked on a journey to memorialise this inspiration through what they do best. 

This inspiration is evident in the design sensibilities that come to play at Live Twice. They paid tremendous attention to detail and spent a considerable amount of time carefully handpicking furniture that represented mid century Japan – an aesthetic that clearly chooses function over form and breathes simplicity.

The mid-century furniture at Live Twice

Each piece of furniture, fixture, and crockery at Live Twice has been picked bearing in mind the quiet simplicity of Japanese craftsmanship, which by itself is breathtaking. 

This simplicity and craft is reflected in their food menu, put together by Polo Seah (Executive Chef, Jigger & Pony Group). The food at Live Twice represents the post-war western influence on Japanese cuisine. Crowd favourites like the Katsu Sando perfectly fit this narrative and are designed to complement the drinks. 

Sandos at Live Twice

The cocktail menu is a serious deep-dive into the art of Japanese bartending that the world has so much adoration and respect for. Designed by Aki Eguchi (Bar Program Director, Jigger & Pony Group) and effortlessly supported by Yinying Leow (Principal Bartender, Live Twice), the bar menu is a classic showcase of technique, balance, and craftsmanship.

Yinying Leow

The drinks programme yearns for the palate of an experienced drinker – one that will seek out new experiences and cherish them. One that will embrace newness, only to be further intrigued. This is exactly the kind of guest who loves Live Twice.

An intimate space that seats 35 odd guests, Live Twice is the kind of bar you go to after a day’s work, to unwind in a 1972 Falcon chair, and be yourself as you sip on a Vesper or two. The name “Live Twice” seeks to convey the idea of duality in our daily lives. In a world consumed by the hustle and bustle of work, responsibilities, and general chaos, Live Twice hopes to become the place one escapes to by night – a home for the expression of self. 

We would be remiss if we didn’t insist you put this on your list for your next visit to Singapore. Being transported back in time to experience the finer things of a bygone era  is not a luxury we can afford, but this may be the closest we can come to it.

Follow Live Twice and Yinying Leow on Instagram.

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