Best bars in KL

Whatever kind of night out you have in mind, we pick the best bars for the occasion

Mr Brooks
By Time Out KL editors |
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Get into the spirit of KL’s vibrant nightlife scene as we round up the best bars for every occasion, including where to drink in the city’s prettiest sights.

Fuego
Photo: Shawn Lor, Pixelpix
Restaurants

Fuego

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

It’s one thing to have a bar overlooking a close-up vista of the KL skyline, but to up the advantage with a wildly inventive and attractive menu? Fuego is just waiting for you to applaud. The resto-bar demonstrates exactly how creativity and food should be married: smoked quail eggs, snails with parsley in a jar, and a flask of bourbon encased in a book. Customers are clamouring to get into Fuego for the alfresco vibe, the eclectic decor with Talavera-style floor tiles as well as the theatrical food presentation – all these elements bask in the company of the Petronas Twin Towers in the distance.

Nightlife

Marini's on 57

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

If Marini’s On 57’s hushed Italian restaurant lulls you into a sense of calm, its rooftop bar (also the highest in KL on the 57th floor of Petronas Tower 3) is incessantly buzzing with thumping music and the sound of shuffling feet. Floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass roof open up the space, offering a view that extends out to the KL suburbs and mountains in the distance. And if that’s not breathtaking enough, look up to find the tallest twin peaks in the world staring back at you.

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Nightlife, Nightlife venues

SkyBar

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

The bar’s well-positioned swimming pool in the middle of the room is just begging for someone to take a dip. You can also relish the view outside the window, through which you can see the gleaming Petronas Twin Towers, Maxis Tower and Jalan Ampang’s messy traffic in one incredible vista. Excellent cocktails, a groovy dancefloor and a handsome crowd – no wonder SkyBar is booked out every New Year’s Eve.

Bars and pubs

Heli Lounge Bar

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

It’s the perfect spot to drink until the sun goes down. At dusk, Heli Lounge’s helipad area affords you a 360-view of one of the best sunsets in the city before segueing into a panorama of flickering city lights after dark. The owners have yet to build barricades around the helipad, so groove to the live band, drink up and don’t look down.

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M8
Photo: All Is Amazing
Bars and pubs, Wineries

M8 by Marini's

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

There are only so many places in KL where you can sip champagne in a garden –M8 (the bar adjoining Marble 8) is one of them, and the wrap-around view of the cityscape is an added bonus. Instead of peering down from a taller structure, you’re gazing upwards, taking in the sight of the KLCC park and the surrounding towers. Here’s a quiet oasis where you can while away the night with fine wines and admire the view without having to worry about vertigo.

Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Claret Wine Bar

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Think an upscale New York loft but with an outdoor patio that overlooks the stunning city view. Sip on some expensive wines and you might just find yourself in a ‘Sex and the City’ moment.

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Bars and pubs, Rooftop bars

Stratosphere at The Roof

icon-location-pin Bandar Utama

From this grassed rooftop helipad, what you’ll see is mostly an overview of Bandar Utama. But when the night is cool, the cocktails taste better when you’re 30 storeys up.

Restaurants, European

Vintry

icon-location-pin Damansara

Whether you’re seeking a weeknight drink in a not-so- boisterous setting or an informal catch-up with old friends, this greatly overlooked wine sanctuary is your answer. It’s easy to see why the pioneering establishment has stood its ground in the scene for so many years – a rustic, wood-accented setting, a reasonably-priced wine range and decadent roast pork. Wine bottles line the shelves while house pours are expelled from wine dispensers; if you’re unsure about what you want, speak to the in-house sommelier for recommendations.

Restaurants, European

The Social Bangsar

icon-location-pin Bangsar

As its name indicates, The Social has been host to merry gatherings big and small since its first establishment in Bangsar 13 years ago. Dinner crowds can be overwhelming but the bustling atmosphere is a fitting backdrop during the restaurant’s happy hour. Draught beers start at RM12++ per glass, a complement to the equally affordable menu. From pastas and burgers to fried rice and noodle soup, the choices are extensive enough to please everybody.

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Restaurants, Japanese

Torii

icon-location-pin TTDI

There are few establishments in town similar to this neighbourhood yakitori bar, where one goes for an after-work sip of premium Japanese whisky in a modern setting. Snack plates like the Wagyu slider, venison carpaccio and unagi with foie gras are invigorating alternatives to standard meat skewers.

Restaurants, European

Tujo

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Now here’s a resto-bar that does casual right with a playful, mod-style interior that screams chic without any of the airs that often come with it. The dinner menu is a decent east-meets-west compilation of pastas, pizzas and sandwiches but it’s the mojitos that have us hooked – with varieties like lychee, assam boi and banana, every visit to Tujo will likely be an extended one.

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Bars and pubs

The Whisky Bar

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

As its name suggests, the range of whiskies here is immensely wide – whether it’s a single malt or an aged blend you’re after, you’ll find it here. We suggest you begin with the tasting platter complete with water and ice balls before easing your way into more unusual labels. Steaks and oysters are worthy accompaniments next to drinks this outstanding.

Restaurants, Burgers

Naked Restaurant and Bar

icon-location-pin Hartamas

Here’s a bar in Hartamas that attempts to strip off all your worries (not your clothes, relax) with a roster of cool cocktails. By cool, we mean tongue-in-cheek cocktail names and inventive drinks. Decked out in red and black hues, Naked also has a café on the upper floor – but the bar downstairs is where all the fun is.

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Restaurants, European

Mezze

icon-location-pin Bukit Damansara

While the European- Mediterranean food here is consistently hearty, a solid wine selection and weekend slots of jazz only add to the warmth. On paydays, add on a platter of cheese and cold cuts.

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Restaurants, European

Ril's Steakhouse Bangsar

icon-location-pin Bangsar

The first floor of Ril’s opens up to one of KL’s most attractive bars. This Prohibition-era-style joint exudes mood and style by way of dim lighting, leather armchairs, vintage-inspired wallpaper and an exhilarating cocktail list.

Bars and pubs

Omakase + Appreciate

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Hidden behind a door with a ‘No Entry’ sign in five languages, Omakase + Appreciate’s discreet location truly makes you feel like an insider. Pick the right door and you’ll be rewarded with exciting cocktails prepared by award-winning mixologists Shawn Cheong and Karl Too. True to its name, the intimate bar practises the omakase concept so you can leave it to the talented duo to decide a drink for you. If you and your posse are seeking a night of adventure, this is the place to be.

Bars and pubs, Wineries

Hyde

icon-location-pin Damansara

Andrew and Caroline of The Good Batch are the duo behind this new joint. It’s hiding on the second floor behind a black sliding door, which makes it feel like an early ’20s speakeasy – it seems like something out of ‘The Great Gatsby’. The interior looks classy with its marble-topped bar and comfy cushioned seats, and there’s classic jazz playing on the speakers. It’s stylish, but not overly so; Andrew tells us you can just be yourself here. The cocktail menu changes regularly so you’ll get to taste something different every time.

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Bars and pubs

Mr Brooks

icon-location-pin Bangsar

Finding Mr Brooks is a bit of a treasure hunt – look out for a purple Sunbeam Alpine car on Bangsar Shopping Centre’s third floor. Primarily a gin and cocktail bar, this speakeasy sports the ambience of a conventional British gentlemen’s club in the 1920s, but the decor is sleek and modern, boasting a bicycle installation that functions as wall lights. If you should have one thing here, make it the Nan’s Carrot Cake – a desserty, lightly spiced cocktail tinged with Drambuie and vodka.

Bars and pubs

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

icon-location-pin Bukit Damansara

Tucked away above Medan Damansara’s row of stellar restaurants is the exclusive whisky and cigar lounge, WTF. The decor – a nod to the gentlemen’s club – screams masculinity, and you’ll also find quiet nooks that provide you with a bit of privacy. If you think the WTF outlet with a telephone booth in Avenue K exudes a cool vibe, expect a classier version at Medan Damansara where self-respecting whisky drinkers huddle over expensive cigars. Be warned: No cigarettes are allowed.

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Bars and pubs

Tate

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

The best thing about this sinister and stoic-looking American-inspired bar is the list of sophisticated cocktails featuring ingredients such as chai-infused sweet vermouth, rosebuds and earl grey tea shaken over ice with lychee liqueur. At night, this modern day gentlemen’s den is swarming with a hip crowd schmoozing in a room that’s decked out with a life-sized knight’s armour, leather chairs and a large selection of fine cigars in the humidor room. How to locate Tate? Find the white wall with the hanging bowler hat.

Taps Beer Bar
Photo: Stacy Liu
Bars and pubs

Taps Beer Bar

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

If there’s a place you can get a crash course on beer styles and learn terms like ‘IPA’, ‘APA’, ‘pilsners’ and ‘porters’, it’s Taps. This bar only stocks up on craft beers, sourcing from independent breweries around the world. Yeastie Boys (New Zealand), Lefebvre (Belgium), BrewDog (Scotland) and Hitachino Nest Beer (Japan) aren’t exactly household names, but Taps’s extensive selection of craft beers have drinkers filling its watering hole in a steady flow. And Taps’s latest trio – ‘The Sloth’ barley wine, ‘Craftsman’ chocolate oatmeal stout, and single hops ‘Amarillo IIPA’ – definitely warrant a taste.

Bars and pubs, Bars

The Rabbit Hole

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

Unlike Alice in the story, we choose to tumble down the burrow into this nighttime wonderland. Surprises abound for newbies and returning patrons alike: Did you know that the bookshelf in Arthur’s Lounge doubles as a door to a secret den? Plus, the warren is about to go deeper – Reserved (a Roman-themed private club) and Santorini rooftop (complete with a floating DJ deck) are in the works.

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Bars and pubs, Wineries

Bricks & Barrels

icon-location-pin Hartamas

The happy hour offer will have you guzzling pints of beer over porky grub such as the Huge Pork Platter, English Roast Pork and Barbecue Pork Ribs. This younger sibling to the founding Ipoh outlet is a fond host of themed parties like St Patrick’s Day, Football Club matches and the recent World Cup 2014, decked out in its spacious outdoor section.

Bars and pubs

The Beer Factory Sunway Giza

icon-location-pin Kota Damansara

Both classy and rowdy crowds frequent this chic industrial-themed bar for a swig of cheap cold beer, whether they’re thirsting for the usual brews like Tiger, Heineken and Kilkenny or the less common Erdinger Weissbier, Leffe Blond and Fuller’s London Pride Ale. Check out the booze pipelines across the length of the wall behind the bar.

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Bars and pubs

Barfly

icon-location-pin Solaris Dutamas

Barfly takes the crown for the cheapest beers in town. How does RM12 nett for a pint of Tiger and RM14 nett for Guinness sound? Like a party. The crowd of happy faces range from regulars to nearby office workers to college kids, all eager for the low-priced booze. People don’t usually order the cocktails here, but when they do, it’s to take up the ‘Barfly Monsta’ challenge – a drinking game where you knock off a glass of strong concoction as fast as you can. Break the outlet’s current record and you get any one drink on the house.

Bars and pubs

BeerHive

icon-location-pin SS2

The fresh draught beers served here have been creating a buzz amongst the folks in PJ. SSTwo Mall is not known for jostling shoppers or pressing crowds during the day, but at night, BeerHive can bump up the noise level. When there are no ongoing football matches, BeerHive keeps its patrons cheering with friendly dart games.

Alexis Ampang
Andy Kho
Music

Alexis Bistro

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Here at Alexis Bistro Ampang, you can unwind over live music with a glass of wine every Friday and Saturday night. Known as one of the top jazz spots in the city, Alexis consistently has a great line-up of local and international names. The roster changes every week, but you can expect crowd favourites Evelyn Feroza, Michael Veerapen and more. Check out Alexis’s Facebook page or website for the weekly schedule. Note that some performances charge a cover of RM10++.

Bars and pubs

Taps Beer Bar

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

A cold craft beer with a side of music sounds like a good night out. At Taps, performances begin from 9pm every Thursday to Saturday with no cover charge. Varying between the Changkat and Plaza Arkadia outlets, the line-up covers a range of genres from pop, R&B and everything in between, there’ll be something for everyone.

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Bars and pubs, Wineries

Tom, Dick & Harry’s Live Oasis Square

icon-location-pin Subang

Boasting the same warm and cosy ambience that has made its outlets a household name and popular neighbourhood watering holes, Tom, Dick and Harry’s Live Oasis Square offers live gigs every Friday and Saturday. Cover bands – expect decent if somewhat anodyne renditions of ‘Wonderwall’ – dominate the music roster at this oft-crowded bar.

Music

No Black Tie

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

Widely known as the city's best jazz venue, No Black Tie regularly hosts live performances almost every day of the week. The line-up boasts a litany of both local and international musicians, and its intimate setting offers a cosy ambience in which to enjoy their music. But it's not just about the jazz here; you can also catch genres like blues and folk music. Check out their Facebook page for more updates.

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Merdekarya
Photo: Bryan Ong
Things to do, Event spaces

Merdekarya

icon-location-pin Petaling Jaya

Tucked away on a street in PJ is this cosy space. Though not exactly a bar per se, Merdekarya's formula of allowing local or Malaysian-based musicians who write and perform their own material allows for a great platform to discover local talent. Music is typically acoustic, but there are the occasional rock bands that grace the stage. Drinks here are really quite affordable; that plus the cosy vibe you can be sure of a relaxing night out over a few drinks with good music. 

The Merchant Live & Bar
Photo: Bonnie Yap
Nightlife, Clubs

The Merchant Live

icon-location-pin Taman Jaya

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Merchant Live is live music night. Party band Chemistry switches between funk, R&B, soul, Latin and jazz on Thursdays, while quintet KNY keeps things mellow with R&B, current hits and Chinese love and pop songs on Fridays. Rockers, come through on Saturdays and bang it out with Fifth Element with classics from Bon Jovi, Deep Purple and more. The bands take the stage from 9.30pm onwards. Did we mention that there’s no cover charge?

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Restaurants

The Bee Publika

icon-location-pin Solaris Dutamas

We can't have a list of places to go for live music without mentioning The Bee. This reliable spot offers 

 

If you haven’t noticed already, The Bee is back – and not only with a new look, but with a whole new programming as well. The restaurant, bar and music venue is also bringing back its signature Upfront series. Gracing the stage so far this year were Onra, The Temper Trap and Tennyson. Besides international acts, they’ve also introduced new music series for local acts, including the by-girls and for-girls Femme Bam, Saturday nights Sonic Boom, and a bi-monthly poetry open mic night.

Nightlife, Nightlife venues

Live House

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Cure your mid-week blues with live music every Wednesday to Saturday nights at Live House. Wednesdays are dedicated to rock with three bands taking the stage, while Thursdays are ladies night with girl band Dotters’ Division playing a mash of pop and funk (free drinks for ladies all night long too!). ‘Retro Friday’ is a throwback to music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s alongside occasional current hits by The Big Band featuring Baby. Come Saturdays, party it up with Top 40 dance favourites with NRG Band.

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Nightlife

HIDE at The Roof

icon-location-pin Bandar Utama

HIDE is your hideaway in PJ, featuring live bands from Wednesdays through Saturdays with a different band playing each night. Acoustic Fourplay takes the stage on Thursdays with music varying between the ’60s and today’s current hits; Chemistry goes up on Fridays playing retro chart-toppers; and Black Velvets plays on Saturdays with a whole lot of rock, soul and blues. On Wednesdays, aspiring musicians are welcome to jam and have fun on stage with the ‘Rock The Stage’ programme.

Bars and pubs, Wineries

Score at The Roof

icon-location-pin Bandar Utama

If the name isn’t already a flashing neon hint at what this bar is about, the sporty decor will spell it out for you. Outdoor garden benches are arranged on a square of faux lawn grass in front of the bar, with a short stretch of running tracks separating the seating area from a space consisting of a pool table, football game machine and electronic darts machines. Expect roars and loud cheers to erupt at irregular intervals on nights that show live telecasts of sports games.

Bars and pubs, Sports bars

Bulldog English Pub & Restaurant

icon-location-pin Hartamas

Catch a round of football, rugby, tennis, cricket or even swimming with raucous sports fans from the Hartamas neighbourhood. The casual everybody-knows-your-name atmosphere here has its merits: Customers can request for TV channels depending on seasonal sporting events. While cheering on your favourite team, feast on the Ultimate ‘Bulldog’ Burger, a mammoth assembly of beef, cheddar, mushrooms and onions served with a side of fat chips.

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Bars and pubs

Back to Skool

icon-location-pin Solaris Dutamas

Going back to school might not be your favourite idea but this bar might change your mind, with a menu that features a range of mocktails and cocktails. Back to Skool also serves draft and flavoured beers that’ll keep you drinking all night long.

Restaurants, European

Sid's Pub TTDI

icon-location-pin TTDI

Since this wildly popular British pub opened its maiden outlet in TTDI in 2007, Sid’s Pub has become the go-to destination in town for patrons craving live sports screenings with a pint on the side. Whether it’s Formula One, the English Premier League, Super Rugby, tennis or golf, the friendly staffers at Sid’s have got your sporting (and drinking) needs covered.

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Restaurants, Fusion

SOULed Out Sri Hartamas

icon-location-pin Hartamas

Despite being in its 18th year, KL’s grande dame of sports bars is still going strong and remains a popular choice with Sri Hartamas residents and ardent football fans alike. Suitably packed and raucous during live football telecasts, SOULed OUT is known for its diverse fusion food menu and a neat selection of drinks like the classic mojito and lychee martini.

Bars and pubs, Tapas bars

Black Bull

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Possibly one of the first dining venues to feature a bowling alley, Black Bull encourages mingling amongst the patrons, whether it’s over a game of sports at the spacious section also equipped with darts machines and pool tables, or over drinks at the bar. For those who want to watch a match, the TV screens are tuned to various sports channels.

More to explore

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