We’re enjoying a cocktail renaissance, where classic revivals, egg foam trends and elbow bands sidle up to the bar. Here are the best cocktail bars in KL that are leading the charge, from classy joints to secret bars to concept speakeasies.
Angel Ng is a cocktail nerd, and we’re not exaggerating. Exalted as one of the best mixologists in KL, she reciprocates the compliment by heading PS150, a cocktail tavern hidden behind a toy shop, lit up with Chinese lanterns as well as a neon sign flashing Petaling Street’s moniker ‘chee cheong kai’.
A visit here is truly transportive, from the convincingly bygone Wong Kar Wai-esque seating areas (a vintage Opium Den, a Tiki open-air courtyard, and the romantic bar area) to the menu by eras (1850s to the present). Asian ingredients come to the fore while classics are given fitting tribute with a twist. Make sure you order Angel’s signatures – you can almost taste her techniques and philosophy in every sip.
This shoebox of a concept bar, located in a little corner of DR.Inc, has one thing on its mind: cocktails. It should be known, though, that the cocktail menu at Coley is one that CK Kho – a talent in KL’s cocktail circuit – tightly edits and changes every three months, with a core selection of classics that take on contemporary twists.
Coley’s Saffron Sour, for instance, is made with saffron-infused bourbon and mixed with lemon, sugar and vanilla syrup. Look to its ‘Koktel’ menu for kopitiam-inspired drinks leaning towards local ingredients – they’re served in kopitiam glasses too.
It’s definitely quality over quantity here at Coppersmith. There may only be 12 cocktails on the menu, but they are a showcase of the latest trends in mixology: The drinks are made with craft spirits, and they feature house-made syrups, edible garnishes and dehydrated fruits.
The playfulness of the bar really comes through in the second half of the menu, where classic cocktails are reinterpreted with unusual ingredients such as banana beer, black pepper syrup and edible paper planes. Soon, you’ll find barrel-aged cocktails here too.
To the untrained eye, the bar runs with much discretion, until a gaggle of millennial cognoscenti squeeze through a door of what looks like a storeroom in the basement of Ming Annexe. Owners Shawn Chong and Karl Too, though no stranger to the scene, are basking in the limelight (the bar placed number ten on the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Bars list this year).
But they never stop experimenting – the versatility of ingredients drives the duo, just as much as it drives a restaurant chef. Drinks are dependably good, and the mixologists top notch – it’s a bar that rightly commands your respect.
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.
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.
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 flavours 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 floored, get the Kopi Kampungtini – it’s coffee with a kick. Find the bar via a discreet back door behind Naughty Nuri’s.
This laidback bar, concealed behind a row of lockers (hence the name) on the first floor of a nondescript shophouse, serves up a winning combo of spicy bar bites as well as quirky and affordable cocktails (from RM22) made with local ingredients. Here, the neighbourhood pub staple, mutton varuval, has been reimagined as a quesadilla.
The Bar Kinugawa keeps things simple and sticks to the classics. The bartenders here practise ingredient transparency where every component of the drink is shown to you as it’s made. Try the Moscow Mule, a concoction of vodka, homemade ginger ale and lime. Other traditional cocktails include Negroni, Old Fashioned and Manhattan – all with a Japanese touch.
Occupying 3,000 sq ft at TREC, IKKI is a classy bar that specialises in crafted cocktails, mainly with a Japanese influence. The bar – definitely the focal point here – carries over 200 kinds of liquor including whiskies, gins and more.
Classic cocktails are available, but we say skip that and look for their signature cocktails menu (it changes once in a while). Otherwise, settle down at the bar and let the mixologist create something on the spot for you.
If you’re one for adventure, HYDE is one of the few bars that changes their menu once every two weeks. Situated just above The Good Batch, this speakeasy-style bar (the location is pretty obvious) highlights classic drinks from various eras with a twist.
HYDE is good at customising drinks, depending on your preferences. But what really sets it apart from the rest is that they use many homemade ingredients such as Earl Grey-infused gin and chilli- and cinnamon-infused bourbon in their cocktails.