The Jungle Bird deserves more recognition in Malaysia: While it’s served in bars the world over, this cocktail was, after all, created here in KL. In the 1970s, a bartender at Aviary Bar in Hilton KL (the former one, located on Jalan Sultan Ismail) came up with this concoction during the tiki cocktail era, an era that emphasised tropical fruity flavours.
The ingredients of this cocktail are rum, fresh pineapple and lime juices, syrup and Campari. You’ll first detect the sour hit from the lime, but it’s well balanced out with the molasses-like sweetness of the rum and the fruity acidity from the pineapple. But the most distinct flavour in a Jungle Bird, however, is the bitter finish (thanks to the Campari) that pulls it all together.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen Jungle Bird evolve into something spectacular; you can find numerous variations of the cocktail in bars around the world with their own individual tweaks. That being said, here are five bars in the city that serve this iconic cocktail, some with their own twist to it. It’s time we celebrate this quintessential Malaysian cocktail.
Jungle Bird gets a PS150 upgrade here with two kinds of rum (a pandan-infused rum and a spice-infused rum) and gula Melaka. The bar strives to use local ingredients as much as possible, and as such, the sweet pineapple is specially sourced from Johor. As garnish, the cocktail is finished with a dehydrated slice of orange and slivers of orange peel. It’s a mixture of sweet, bitter and fruity all in one sip.
Staying almost true to the original recipe, View’s version of Jungle Bird has one difference – they use Angostura Trinidad & Tobago Caribbean rum. This version may be more on the bitter side, but there’s still a tinge of fruitiness from the fresh fruit juices. On a scorching day, there’s nothing quite like this creamy cocktail with a view of the KL skyline.
The former Hilton KL created this classic cocktail, and now over at Chambers Bar in the current Hilton at KL Sentral, the bartenders stick to the original recipe from the ’70s. It’s also the fanciest presentation we’ve seen for the Jungle Bird; the pineapple head is used as garnishing to resemble a bird’s crown.