Regarded as vodka for grown-ups, gin has a distinctive smell of juniper that sets it apart from other drinks at the bar. It’s one of the most unique, diverse and versatile spirits out there. Made with grain and complicated botanical flavours, it gives way to so many different styles based on the ingredients infused into it prior to distillation.
Recent years have seen gin gaining quite a following among hipsters and educated drinkers alike. KL has also been riding on this trend, with more gin bars sprouting up in the scene and offering the spirit’s aficionados a wider range of options from around the world.
Popular gin and cocktail bars like PS 150 deserve a special mention for being so innovative, rendering a pleasurable twist on a lychee martini with the simple introduction of an unconventional ingredient – a ginger flower into this classy cocktail.
Apart from concocting interesting cocktails, some of these bars have also stepped up their game by customising unusual garnishes for their gin cocktails. Hyde at 53M, for instance, tops its gin and tonics with Japanese cucumber slices and edible flower petals, while Mercat Barcelona Gastropub utilises orange peel wound around a cinnamon stick for a whimsical spin. If you’re looking to join the ongoing gin revival in the city, we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 bars with the best gin-based cocktails to try.
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A hidden bar along Jalan Tun HS Lee, the Berlin KL offers premium cocktails for as low as RM18. When it comes to gin, it carries around seven to 10 varieties. In true German fashion, this bar focuses on simplicity, highlighting its flavours with use of minimal ingredients to avoid killing the essence of the spirit (as is the case of its cocktail, Garden Gin and Tonic). It stars Tanqueray No. 10, Martini Bianco, and Fentimans tonic in a glass stuffed with olives, fruit, and cucumber.
Must-try: The Brandenburg. This signature cocktail is made with Ford’s Gin, Dom Benedictine, lemon juice, and Peychaud Bitters, all of which lends a full-bodied citrusy flavour.
The Berlin KL, No. 208, Jalan Tun HS Lee, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 3-2022 2111
Serious cocktail drinkers will concur that Hyde is one of the rising stars in KL’s current speakeasy scene. It shelves around 30 labels from around the world, mainly from England, though you’ll get some great recommendations like Tanqueray Rangpur, Kinobi Kyoto Gin, and Dodds.
Must-try: Garden Gin and Tonic. It comes with slices of fresh kyuri (Japanese cucumber), grapefruit, and edible flowers that not only enhance the drink’s flavours, but also infuse it with a lovely fragrance.
Hyde at 53M, No. 53, Jalan SS 21/1a, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, +60 17-680 1357
Equipped with sweeping views of Bangsar Village II, this lounge certainly lives up to the hype due to the savoury and hearty dishes it offers, which is unlike anything served in surrounding bars and restaurants. We love the Asian twists on their canapes and tapas, such as deep-fried crabbies, and golden Chinese mantou sliders. We find it perfect to pair these canapés and tapas with their signature drinks such as Thai Collins or Kim Jong Mule. Prices range from RM25 to RM35 per cocktail.
Must-try: The Dynasty. This is made from French Citadelle Gin that has heavy notes of lemon, lime, and orange. Mixed with grapefruit juice and jasmine tea, you’ll get a drink that is perfectly balanced without being too sweet, sour, or bitter. We love that it’s served in a Japanese teapot.
Mantra Rooftop Bar & Lounge, Lot R-E, Bangsar Village II, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 17-344 8299
Perhaps one of Bangsar’s most stylish establishments, this Catalan gastrobar will make you feel like you’re in Barcelona with its funky retro urban décor that is softened by colourful floor tiles and plentiful soft lights. While it puts forth a menu that’s rarely seen in the city – such as Iberico ham croquettes, chilled tomato puree, and rice cooked with squid ink among others – you won’t find any fancy drinks here. It sticks to the classic gin and tonic made with a small Spanish twist.
Must-try: Its Spanish Siderit Gin and Tonic drowns an orange peel wound around a cinnamon stick at the bottom of this aromatic drink, which gives off sweet and spicy flavours.
Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar, No. 51, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 3-2201 5288
Tucked away in Chinatown, you’re bound to miss this place unless you know what exactly to look for – a speakeasy hidden behind a toy store façade. This former brothel has been remade into a main lounge, smoking area, and private booths for intimate drinking. It’s known for cocktails with bold Southeast Asian flavours using distinct ingredients that are native to this part of the world.
Must-try: Lychee No. 3 puts a spin on the usual lychee martini with its infusion of tangy ginger flower. A crowd-pleaser, it comprises London dry gin, lychee syrup, and a dash of lime that all deliver dry, fruity, and floral flavours with every sip.
PS 150, No. 150, Ground Floor, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60322022888
Opened in early 2016, Virgin & Throne is a medieval-themed bar that wouldn’t look out of place in the fictional setting of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. It serves modern cocktails leaning towards the sweet side, and currently carries 16 brands of gin, among which you’ll find the likes of Hendricks, Monkey47 and the Botanist.
Must-try: Throne is a concoction of Fords Gin, pineapple juice, blue curacao and lychee liquor for a refreshing and fruity combination of flavours.
Virgin & Throne, 26-A-1st Floor, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 3-7731 2838