1880 (Singapore) / by shane eaton

"It's said you can't choose your family. We say you can."

1880 is an all-in members club in Singapore conceived by Marc Nicholson, who grew up in a family where strong opinions were encouraged. 1880 goes against the grain of a traditional members club, encouraging diversity. The goal of 1880 is to stimulate new conversations that have a positive impact on the world. You can read more about Marc’s inspirations for building 1880 in this article he penned.

1880 features a co-working space, spa, yoga studio, cinema, restaurant and cocktail bar. It even features grooming facilities - perfect for the vagabond in me who often forgets to trim his hair and beard. The club is located within a 22,000 square foot space on the third floor of city’s latest development project, Quayside at Robertson Quay, next to the Singapore River.

On December 2, I flew in from Vancouver to attend the founding members’ gala at 1880. Despite the 40 hours back and forth trip across the Pacific, it was well worth my time to attend one of the best parties ever.

The access point to 1880 is via the Hotel InterContinental with a beautiful escalator surrounded by mirrors with psychedelic lights. It's like being inside a huge kaleidoscope, and the hallucinogenic effect is the perfect gateway for the magic that awaits inside 1880 upstairs. Thanks to Rachel Ling for the awesome video and Eric Chomicz for the beautiful photos of the escalator and private phone booths at 1880.

L'ingresso del 1880.jpg
 Left: The enchanting elevator ride; Right: The privacy booths (Photos by Alex Chomicz).  Clickthrough link to Rachel Ling's escalator video.

Left: The enchanting elevator ride; Right: The privacy booths (Photos by Alex Chomicz).  Clickthrough link to Rachel Ling's escalator video.

At the top of the escalator, we were greeted by the lovely Jeanine, the woman responsible for membership at 1880. I was amazed she already knew details about me, even if I wasn't yet a member. I was then introduced to the elegantly-dressed and humble CEO of 1880, Luke Jones. I then met Nabil, who manages the floor at 1880. I was impressed with Nabil's hospitality and even more so by his memory, referring to me by name throughout the night, despite the challenge of hosting the hundreds of other founding members in attendance.

Jeanine, Nabil and the whole team at 1880 will make you feel at home. Of course, 1880 may be a lot more beautiful than your home thanks to the slick design, furniture and styling by Timothy Oulton and construction by SpaceMatrix. In fact CEO Luke describes 1880 as “your home away from home. Only better.” Timothy Oulton explains on his web site: “In conceiving 1880’s overall design, we want to respond to the fact that its members are incredibly dynamic and their lifestyle involves a lot of travel, irregular work hours, late nights and early mornings. 1880 promises to be that space in between, offering an antidote to these pressures, a place to decompress, a space for inspiration."

Given my travel schedule and interests, 1880 seemed like the perfect place to be inspired. At the party, my first mission was finding Rusty Cerven, former head bartender at the award-winning Connaught and The Gibson in London, and now the man in charge of the cocktail bar at 1880. It was great to share this night with him - an event I know he's been looking forward to after many months of hard work. On the night, we had great drinks including the Matador with Fortaleza Blanco, Mancino Secco, Becherovka and green tea almond.  Joining Rusty is bar star YiJun, former head bartender at Operation Dagger. Opening night also included Joe Alessandroni of Proof and Company, the man responsible for assembling the powerhouse bar team and also one of the best cocktail makers in the world.

The 1880 cocktail bar is hidden behind thick black drapes, making you feel like you’re entering a privée within the already exclusive club. Called "The Double", it features a bar counter made entirely of a five meter long log! You can also get a cocktail from the members lounge area which is open toujours. The members lounge features a  backbar with a breathtaking dragon design carved into the wall.

 The Dragon at the Members Lounge bar

The Dragon at the Members Lounge bar

Although there aren't hundreds of bottles lining the back bars, you will only find the top quality products at 1880. This underscores their philosophy -  Simple, but of the highest possible expression. The great drinks and finger food were complimented with an awesome soundtrack courtesy of music director Aldrin.

With stellar drinks from one of the most stacked bar teams in the world, expect the 1880 cocktail bar to win important awards in its first year.

1880 is a brilliant concept and well executed. Congrats to Marc, Luke, Jeanine, Rusty, YiJun, Timothy, Joe, Paul and the whole team. Marc was quoted as saying “1880 screamed inside of me five years ago. That was it for me, I either had to do it or go mad. But it to make it happen I needed to find some very special artists. And from those people I learnt an awful lot.”

Congratulations Marc, you found some truly amazing artists and 1880 is an astonishing place.

 Left: YiJun prepares a cocktail at the Member's Lounge; Right: Neil and Sabrina at the spa entrance 

Left: YiJun prepares a cocktail at the Member's Lounge; Right: Neil and Sabrina at the spa entrance 

 Paul, Sabrina, Neil and Shane at the 1880 founding members gala (Photos courtesy of Sabrina)

Paul, Sabrina, Neil and Shane at the 1880 founding members gala (Photos courtesy of Sabrina)

 Rusty and Marc (photo 1880)

Rusty and Marc (photo 1880)

 Rusty at The Double (photo 1880)

Rusty at The Double (photo 1880)

 Joe Alessandroni double shakes at the lounge bar (photo 1880)

Joe Alessandroni double shakes at the lounge bar (photo 1880)

 Timothy Oulton (photo 1880)

Timothy Oulton (photo 1880)