The best hidden bars in KL

From small secret bars to speakeasy-style cocktail dens, here's your guide to finding the best kept secrets of KL's nightlife
By Time Out KL editors |
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Some of KL’s best drinking spots are located behind closed and unmarked doors. With hidden whereabouts and obscure entrances, these places take their cues from the speakeasy bars of olden days, minus the grumpy barkeep. Happy (bar) hunting!

Bars and pubs

Three X Co

icon-location-pin Bangsar

Taking over the space where Mr Brooks used to occupy is another 'speakeasy'-style cocktail bar opened by three friends, Daniel, Eugene and Wai Hung. To find the place, look for the pop-up barbershop opened by The Othrs on the third floor, and pull the wall panel that's plastered with a Muhammad Ali poster. Once inside, you'll find a dimly lit and cozy space that draws its inspiration from The Great Gatsby. We recommend ordering the Blushing Melon, one of the bar's top sellers. Be warned, however, that this drink sneaks up on you before delivering a knock-out punch. 

Bars and pubs

Omakase + Appreciate

icon-location-pin KL City Centre

Being the sole Malaysian entry in Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in both 2016 and 2017, Omakase + Appreciate is arguably the standard bearer of KL’s cocktail scene. Founded by duo Karl Too and Shawn Chong, this tiny bar located behind an electrical switchboard door is where you’ll find cocktails that are tailor-made for you; just tell them what you like and let them do their magic.

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Jack Rose

icon-location-pin Bukit Damansara

While this bar isn’t exactly a speakeasy, it may as well be considering how hidden the place is. Located on the basement floor of Wisma E&C, this is where you'll find a range of refined cocktails, including Jack Rose, a classic cocktail made according to the original recipe of just Applejack, lemon and homemade grenadine. The well-rounded Claypot Negroni is one of the city's finest, as are their famous hot wings. 

Note: Jack Rose is currently closed for renovations, and is scheduled to reopen in Oct 2018. Check their Facebook for more updates.

Skullduggery
Photo: Javad Tizmaghz
Bars and pubs

Skullduggery

icon-location-pin Bukit Damansara

This dim, cosy bar feels private and affluent, like a member’s club. But there’s still a sense of mischief here: a wall decorated with copper skulls, and a toy train going round delivering shots. To enter, head to the alley behind Huckleberry. Helmed by master mixer Viji Thomas, this bar is all about technique and precision. Classics aren’t mucked about with gimmicky twists, but instead perfected with the use of premium and craft spirits (many of which are specially imported by the bar itself). The house cocktails, on the other hand, are inventive and complex, often featuring unusual ingredients such as truffle-infused vodka, seaweed agave and cardamom milk jam to delicious effect. Order the Pear Pressure – a smooth, Christmassy cocktail made with spiced pear liqueur and buttered calvados.

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Attic Bar
Photo: Daniel Chan
Bars and pubs

The Attic Bar

icon-location-pin Petaling Street

To get to the rooftop bar, you’ll have to be buzzed into the first floor guesthouse, head to the back, and then climb the spiral staircase two fl oors up. There, a space made for chilling awaits; the decor is done up DIY-style, with bare bricks, birdcage light fi xtures, and beanbags at the back. You can’t beat the price: beers and spirits start from RM10, classic cocktails are RM24, and there are also ‘Game of Thrones’-inspired cocktails. Winter is coming, and so are we – to The Attic Bar, that is.

P&C Cocktail Bar
Photo: Daniel Chan
Bars and pubs

P&C Cocktail Bar

icon-location-pin Hartamas

First things first: don’t ask for a menu, for there isn’t one. Instead, celebrate the omakase concept. You’ll receive a double-columned placard; the fi rst column lists a range of fl avours and tastes (sweet, spicy, smoky and so on) while the other spells out base liquors, such as absinthe, brandy and champagne. Now choose your own adventure: you can tick more than one choice for each column and get a customised cocktail. But if you’re fl oored, get the Kopi Kampungtini – it’s coff ee with a kick. Find the bar via a discreet back door behind Naughty Nuri’s.

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Bars and pubs

The Pawn Room

icon-location-pin TTDI

Hidden behind a door disguised as a wall of deposit boxes lies The Pawn Room, a cocktail bar that draws inspiration from the exotic decadence of 1920s Shanghai. Aged for two months in oak barrels, the cocktails here are devised by both resident and visiting bartenders from around the world. We say go for Uncle Lee’s Hi-Tea – a house creation that mixes blended whisky, Amaro Montenegro, peach liqueur and Jerry Thomas bitters, resulting in a wellbalanced citrusy and extra oaky cocktail that goes down smooth and easy.

The Vault
Photo: Daniel Chan
Bars and pubs

The Vault

icon-location-pin Hartamas

There’s no screaming sign here, but in-the-know patrons walk up a stairway (hint: look for The Prep Room) to gain entry via a vault door – hence, The Vault KL. Belly up to the bar to seek solace in a carefully curated list of cocktails and classics: The Vault Heist comes with lemongrass-infused vodka, the passion fruit martini smacks of something sweet, and the Smokey Negroni (London dry gin, Italian sweet vermouth, peated Islay whisky) is so strong it could serve itself.

Hidden but not quite

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These bars may be hard to find, but they are not as obscure as the ones above.

Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Private Room

icon-location-pin TTDI

Find the yellow door – no, it’s not to Oz, but to Private Room, the city’s first speakeasy wine bar. There are few cooler ways to enter a bar than to punch in the passcode of the week at the entrance. Better still, once you’re inside, you’ll find that the bar carries over 200 labels from all over the world. Say yes to the cheese platters.

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61 Monarchy
Photo: Daniel Chan
Bars and pubs

61 Monarchy

icon-location-pin Damansara

This is the perfect place for whisky connoisseurs as they specialise in whiskies from all over the world. Think Irish, Welsh, American, Japanese, Taiwanese and more. You’ll get three menus here: the main spirits menu featuring an extensive whisky collection, a tasting flight menu and a seasonal cocktail menu.

Nomi Tomo
Photo: Stacy Liu
Bars and pubs

Nomi Tomo Saké Bar

icon-location-pin Bukit Damansara

Nomi Tomo – which translates to ‘drinking buddies’ in Japanese – eschews the dark, dimly lit, somewhat secret bar decor in favour of warm tones and wood panelling. There’s saké to be paired with sizzling skewers, and also beers (there’s a Belgian wheat beer named Suiyoubi No Neko, meaning ‘The Wednesday Kitty’), shōchū and whisky.

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