The Bar Awards Kuala Lumpur & Penang 2019: The Ranked Results

It’s been yet another high-spirited year for Malaysia’s thriving nightlife scene, and the third edition of The Bar Awards Kuala Lumpur & Penang 2019 is a toast to its excellence. Celebrating Malaysia’s booziest, boldest, and most brilliant, the awards party lit up the night at KL’s Publika on 8 December. The camaraderie was free flowing, as was the good cheer – both certainly portents of great things ahead for the industry. As for the bars and bartenders leading the charge, here they are!

The Bar Awards Luminaries: Arsenio Mariano Jr and Shareen Yew

Presented by the House of Angostura

The Bar Awards Luminaries honours the leading lights of Malaysia’s bar community, and 2019 sees Arsenio Mariano Jr and Shareen Yew joining its ranks. A pioneer in experimenting with seasonal fruits and fresh spices, ‘Ash’ now pushes boundaries with his Asian health tonic-themed cocktails at Sakura Den, while Shareen – the legendary owner and director of Single and Available specialty stores – has been instrumental in the growth of Malaysia’s single malt market over the last two decades.

The Rising Star: Kah Chun Pang, Coley Cocktail Bar

Presented by East Imperial

The Bar Awards believes in recognising the industry’s talented young blood, so as to continue attracting young ‘uns to join the bartender and nightlife scene. This year’s champion in KL is none other than Kah Chun Pang, who has spent the last three years at Coley Cocktail Bar.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Kah Chun Pang (Coley Cocktail Bar)
  2. Joe Wee Kwong Ngui (Bar Trigona, Four Seasons KL)
  3. Chris Choon Suen Chung (Beta KL)
  4. Tracia Chan (Dissolved Solids)
  5. Shadrach Shan (Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL)
  6. Harry Rusho Hasan (PS150)
  7. Kay Kim Koh (Flying Monkeys Bar)
  8. Chris Boon Xiang Ang (Three X Co)
  9. Abel Sukal (Skullduggery)
  10. Ahmed Al Imran (JungleBird)

Restaurant Bar of the Year: JOLOKO

Presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka

JOLOKO might only have hit KL last year, but it’s already hotter than the ghost pepper it’s named for. This Caribbean restaurant-bar sizzles up fiery grilled meats in a showstopping tropical setting, alongside a hefty cache of mezcal and well over a dozen tequilas. For the tipplers who flock here for their hit of spice-infused cocktails, it’s no surprise that JOLOKO is clinching Restaurant Bar of the Year for the second year running.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  2. Beta KL
  3. Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar & Restaurant
  4. Fuego, Troika Sky Dining
  5. Nadodi KL
  6. DC Restaurant
  7. Pinchos Tapas Bar
  8. Borneo Restaurant & Bar
  9. Elements KL
  10. TAPS Beer Bar

Beer Bar of the Year: TAPS Beer Bar

Presented by Peroni

TAPS Beer Bar remains untoppled as thrice-crowned Beer Bar of the Year, and for good reason. A tenacious trailblazer in KL’s craft beer scene, this bar sees a vibrant throng of regulars and live jams three nights a week. It’s owned by a quintet of globe-trotting cousins, who pick up quality brews from all over the world for their original 14-tap Changkat outlet and 30-tap Plaza Arkadia branch.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. TAPS Beer Bar
  2. Ales & Lagers
  3. The Great Beer Bar
  4. Modern Madness
  5. Delirium Cafe
  6. Sid’s Pub
  7. Tom, Dick & Harry’s
  8. The Beer Factory
  9. Paus
  10. Farmer’s Bar

Hotel Bar of the Year: Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL

Presented by Lillet

Fresh off its No. 40 debut on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019, Bar Trigona at Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur has been getting the barflies buzzing with its palatial vibe, dazzling mirrors, and impeccable hospitality. It’s most certainly not a case of style over substance either, with an inventive cocktail programme helmed by Ashish Sharma, an alumni of Manhattan in Singapore.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL
  2. WET Deck, W Kuala Lumpur
  3. Pacific Standard Bar, Alila Bangsar Hotel
  4. Astor Bar, St. Regis Kuala Lumpur
  5. WOOBAR, W Kuala Lumpur
  6. Vertigo, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur
  7. The Smoke House, Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
  8. SEVEN Bar & Lounge, The RuMa Hotel
  9. Aviary Bar, Hilton Kuala Lumpur
  10. SkyBar, Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Specialist Concept of the Year: JungleBird

Presented by Restaurant, Pub and Bar Asia

It’s always a rum time at JungleBird, KL’s first bar dedicated to the sugarcane spirit. Decked in rattan furnishings and jungle prints, this speakeasy transports the unwary urbanite right into tiki paradise. With a hoard of over 100 rums and a curated series of rum flights, JungleBird has done much to share the love of pirate swill with newcomers and aficionados alike.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. JungleBird – Rum
  2. Pahit – Gin
  3. Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL – Honey
  4. Tickets Bar KL – Agave
  5. 61 Monarchy – Whisky
  6. JOLOKO – Agave
  7. Borneo Restaurant & Bar – Locality
  8. Puro KL – Natural Wine
  9. No Black Tie – Music
  10. The Deceased – Theme

Hospitality Ambassador of the Year: Joshua Ivanovic, JungleBird

Presented by Woodford Reserve

With 16 years of working in hospitality under his belt, what keeps Joshua Ivanovic going is making his clients happy. As co-founder and managing director of JungleBird and KL Cocktail Co., he doesn’t hesitate to pull all-nighters to handle large batch orders, and each cocktail comes fortified with his unsparing attention and passion.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Joshua Ivanovic (JungleBird)
  2. Chee Kheong Kho (Coley Cocktail Bar)
  3. Angeline Tan (Three X Co)
  4. Arsenio Mariano Jr (Sakura Den)
  5. Ashish Sharma (Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL)
  6. Shawn Chong (Omakase + Appreciate)
  7. Shirmy Chan (61 Monarchy)
  8. Rizal Junior Joe Utto (WET Deck, W Kuala Lumpur)
  9. Alvin Lim (TAPS Beer Bar)
  10. Andrew Tan (61 Monarchy)

Hospitality Team of the Year: Coley Cocktail Bar

Presented by Hendrick’s Gin

Friendly and laidback, Coley Cocktail Bar feels like home to all tipplers who like a stiff drink without the stiff upper lip. Kudos to owner-bartender CK Kho and his team for serving up plenty of warmth alongside their inventive cocktails.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Coley Cocktail Bar
  2. Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL
  3. Three X Co
  4. PS150
  5. JungleBird
  6. 61 Monarchy
  7. Pahit
  9. The Vault KL
  10. Omakase & Appreciate

Creative Cocktail Bar of the Year: Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL

Presented by Cointreau

To craft their signature cocktail programme, the Bar Trigona team personally roved through many a farmland and forested area in Malaysia. The fruits of their labour speak for themselves – locally-sourced produce like wild turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, figs, and of course, Trigona honey lend their flavours to some truly vibrant concoctions.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL
  2. Coley Cocktail Bar
  3. Soma
  4. JungleBird
  5. Bar Shake
  6. Omakase & Appreciate
  7. Tickets Bar KL
  8. Three X Co
  9. The Deceased
  10. PS150

New Bar of the Year: Soma

Presented by Campari

TTDI’s newest tippling den is no stranger to zany shake-ups of classic cocktails. Among the eclectic potions you’ll find at Soma are Bloody Marys infused with Parmesan cheese and cocktail ‘remedies’ featuring Chinese cough syrup Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, all courtesy of veteran Bar Director Jason Julian. All we can say is, we can’t wait to see what he’s got next up his pineapple-print shirt sleeves.

This Year’s Top Ten:

  1. Soma
  2. WET Deck, W Kuala Lumpur
  3. Iki_Ya
  4. Puro KL
  5. Tickets Bar KL
  6. Sakura Den
  7. Mrs Jones’ Parlour
  8. Circa
  9. Flying Monkeys Bar
  10. Modern Madness

Bartender of the Year – Penang: Koh Yung Shen, Backdoor Bodega

Presented by Havana Club

Koh Yung Shen is a man of mystery – and of many talents. The owner of Penang speakeasy Backdoor Bodega, which cheekily masks itself as an ‘overpriced pin shop’, he’s also the co-founder of badass clothing brand Lansi and streetwear store The Swagger Salon. Bringing the spirit of swag to his locally inspired cocktails, he more than merits the crown of Penang’s Bartender of the Year.

This Year’s Top Nominees:

  1. Koh Yung Shen (Backdoor Bodega)
  2. Spencer Ezra (Mish Mash)
  3. Quah Kar Vee (Copper Bar & Restaurant)
  4. Ooi Foo Giap (Backdoor Bodega)

Bartender of the Year – Kuala Lumpur: Shirmy Chan, 61 Monarchy

Presented by Monkey Shoulder

What an award-winning year it’s been for Shirmy Chan (Bar Manager of 61 Monarchy)! Her gin and tonic was voted KL’s finest in the East Imperial Gin Jubilee KL 2019, and her recent stunning Fisherman’s Blue cocktail also made her the champion of this year’s Giffard West Cup Malaysia – she then went on to clinch top spot in the Asian regional finals. In short, she’s quite the tippling powerhouse, and an all-round inspirational human.

This Year’s Top 10:

  1. Shirmy Chan (61 Monarchy)
  2. Chee Kheong Kho (Coley Cocktail Bar)
  3. Ashish Sharma (Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL)
  4. Shawn Chong (Omakase + Appreciate)
  5. Alvin Nirmal “Loco” George (Coley Cocktail Bar)
  6. Joshua Ivanovic (JungleBird)
  7. Osam “Sam” Kinugawa (Bar Shake)
  8. David Hans (Three X Co)
  9. Jason Julian (Soma)
  10. Rizal Junior Joe Utto (WET Deck, W Kuala Lumpur)

Bar of the Year – Penang: Mish Mash

Presented by Monin

For the second year running, swanky bistro bar Mish Mash has bagged Bar of the Year – Penang. Malaysia’s discerning barflies just can’t get enough of its charming, well, mishmash of European elegance with Asian roots, reflected in the cosy venue and stellar tipples.

This Year’s Top Nominees:

  1. Mish Mash
  2. Beso Rosado by Chin Chin
  3. Copper Bar & Restaurant
  4. Backdoor Bodega

Bar of the Year Kuala Lumpur: Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL

Presented by Monin

Yes, it’s Bar Trigona’s third Bar Awards 2019 title this year. A perfect storm of plush interiors, a strong sustainable concept, and an all-star mixologist team, this bar is surely one of Malaysia’s finest. Given that Bar Trigona is little over a year old, we foresee plenty more buzzy intrigue in its near future.

This Year’s Top 10:

  1. Bar Trigona, Four Seasons Hotel KL
  2. Coley Cocktail Bar
  3. JungleBird
  4. Bar Shake
  5. 61 Monarchy
  6. Pahit
  8. Omakase & Appreciate
  9. PS150
  10. TAPS Beer Bar
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