For a country with a majority-Muslim population, its cosmopolitan capital sure has an amazing nightlife scene — especially on the booze front. These dedicated cocktail bars in Kuala Lumpur are shaking up some of the best drinks in town, from contemporary twists on classic recipes to new concoctions that showcase Southeast Asian ingredients.
The brainchild of cocktail extraordinaire Angel Ng, PS150 is exalted as one of the best bars in the city. Past a ’toy shop’ and moody Chinese lanterns come three seating areas, from a vintage opium den and ‘open-air’ courtyard to a neon lit bar where unique South Asian flavours come to the fore. Featuring things like obscure vermouths and local ginger wines, the cocktail list is divided into five distinct eras: Vintage, Classic, Tiki, Disco, and Contemporary.
PS150 is located at 150 Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3 7622 8777.Open Tue-Sat 6pm – 2am, Sun-Mon 6pm – 1am.
After a glorious two years hidden behind a cafe, Coley has since moved into a new space down the road. Paying homage to the godmother of bartending – Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman of The Savoy Hotel – star bartender CK Kho and team whips up contemporary creations inspired by Malaysian flavours, from the Aloe Vera Margarita to the Peanut Butter Jelly with blueberry liqueur and roasted peanuts. While the menu changes every three months, core classics like the Hanky Panky (Coleman’s most famous drink) stay on all year round.
Coley is located at 6-G, Jalan Abdullah, 59000 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open Mon-Sat 5pm – 1am. Closed Sun.
Knowhere is a place that marries mysticism (their ceiling is peppered with LED lights and the walls plastered with psychedelic prints) with nostalgia, but even if the decor doesn’t make you trip, their cocktails will. Knowhere’s drinks boast a Malaysian flair, such as the signature smokey Kopi Negroni, smooth and decadent with dark rum, black coffee, and housemade tongkat ali liqueur. The Pandan Sour — pandan-infused vodka with egg white and angostura bitters is also quite something.
Knowhere is located at p. +60 10 220 2358. Open Mon-Tue 4pm – 1am, Wed-Fri 4pm – 2am, Sat 11am – 2am, Sun 11am – 12am.
If you’re pantang (Malay for superstitious), you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, make your way to this spooky speakeasy in Chinatown for the scare of your life. Basing its cocktail menu on the concept of death, each drink comes with all sorts of creepy paraphernalia, from half Barbie dolls to incense sticks and old wooden slippers. Try the Petty Person Petting, or Da Siu Yan, which sees tuak (glutinous rice wine), gin, kumquat, and tonic water mixed into a wooden bowl.
The Deceased is located at 55, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah PersekutuanKuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3 2715 7492. Open Mon 6.30pm – 12am, Thu-Sun 6.30pm – 2am. Closed Tue.
Bored of drinking the same thing all the time? HYDE is one of those bars that change their menu every two weeks, highlighting classic drinks from different era in cocktail history — with a twist! What sets this intimate watering hole (Chesterfield leather sofas and antique lighting) apart is their use of fancy infusions including a feisty chilli and cinnamon bourbon. If you like tea, the 30 Shades of Grey sees Earl Grey gin, Aperol, lychee liqueur, and Earl Grey syrup.
HYDE is located at 53M, Jalan SS 21/1A, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, p. +60 18 213 9291. Open Sun, Tue-Thu 5pm – 2am, Fri-Sat 5pm – 3am. Closed Mon.
Omakase + Appreciate
Speakeasies are always cool, but few of them are trendier than Omakase + Appreciate, a small eclectic cocktail bar that models its decor and service after the Japanese. Its secret entrance make things a lot of fun, and once you find the place, indulge in top notch drinks by award-winning mixologists Shawn Chong and Karl Too. Let them mix you a bespoke drink that’s highly experimental, from the nutty Strait Terroir (Don Julio Reposado, Suze, yellow Chartreuse, pandan) to a fruity Panty Dropper with Glenfiddich 12 Years, passionfruit, and apple.
Omakase + Appreciate is located at Bangunan Ming Annexe, 9, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3 2022 2238. Open Tue-Fri 6pm – 1am, Sat 9pm – 1am. Closed Sun-Mon.
JungleBird isn’t the original home of the Malaysian cocktail classic, the Jungle Bird, but it sure can make a darn good one. The first rum bar in Kuala Lumpur sees well over a 100 labels of rum from all over, housed in a tropical-inspired space decorated with bamboo stilts and rattan furniture. You’ll want to try their rum flights, or cocktails like The Best Drink In The World, a heady blend of rum, sugar cane reduction, and lime juice, or a Rum Old Fashioned with housemade chocolate cardamom bitters.
JungleBird is located at 15 Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open Sun-Wed 5pm – 1am, Thu-Sat 5pm – 3am.
Inside the gilded walls of the Four Seasons Hotel sits this cocktail gem with sleek mosaic and mirror elements. Bar Trigona specialises in crafting with indigenous and sustainable ingredients, whether its tropical fruits from an organic farm in Bangi or wild turmeric harvested in Pahang. Head bartender Ashish Sharma has a particular love for the raw honey from the local namesake Trigona beehives, using the sour-sweet nectar in creations like Pollen, a creamy drink comprising applejack, yoghurt, honey, and kaffir lime leaves.
Bar Trigona is located at 145 Jalan Ampang, Four Seasons Place, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open Mon-Thu 6pm – 1am, Fri-Sat 6pm – 2am, Sun 6pm – 12am.
61 Monarchy might focus on whiskies, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a mean cocktail. The quintessential British colonial bar is decked out in lush tropical prints and wicker chairs and is reminiscent of a beach resort. There are over 400 labels on offer, but you’re here for whisky cocktail classics like the Boulevadier — Sazerac rye, campari, sweet vermouth, and Bénédictine D.O.M. — and Old Fashioned with Wild Turkey 101 Proof, Fee Brothers bitters, and a bitters-soaked sugar cube.
61 Monarchy is located at 61M, Jalan SS 21/1a, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, p. +60 18 213 9291. Open Mon-Sat 5pm – 2am. Closed Sun.
Pahit is Kuala Lumpur’s only bar that specialises in all things gin. Run by CK Kho, the man behind popular Bangsar outfit Coley, its setting may be rustic — it’s located in an old 1920s shop lot anyway — but their drinks are anything but laidback. Think an array of fruit-infused G&Ts (the lychee and ginger flower variant is a fan-favourite), classic gin cocktails, and contemporary concoctions like the Gin Pahit #2, made with London dry gin, orange bitters, and their own housemade falernum syrup.
Pahit is located at 3 Jalan Sin Chew Kee Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3 2110 0776. Open Tue-Sun 5pm – 1am. Closed Mon.
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