The cocktail bar scene in KL doesn’t seem to be running dry anytime soon, and we’re not-so-secretly happy about that. Moving on from hidden bars, we see a rising trend in specialist bars, especially gin bars. The scene also doesn’t fall short of experimental bars that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of flavour — shiitake mushroom-infused liquor from Birch, anyone?
What these new bars in KL have in common, however, are interesting concepts and — more importantly — a solid repertoire of tipples. There’s something for every kind of drinking enthusiast out there. If you’re into adventure and love sussing out hidden bars decorated with neon signs, we’ve got one in our list. Or perhaps you crave a swanky drinking experience at the latest, trendiest, most upscale bar with high ceilings and pulsating lights — we’ve got that too. And if all you want is a good drink with a hip crowd in a cool space, scroll down for some suggestions.
With this list of 5 new bars in KL, we’re pretty sure your Friday night and weekend is all sorted out. Don’t forget to fuel up on some good food beforehand — perhaps our recommendation of new restaurants to dine at in KL this month will help you out.
You might recognise the man behind the bar as CK, who also owns Coley in Bangsar. Pahit is located in the space once occupied by the now-defunct Barlai in Sekeping Sin Chew Kee, and is established as a full-fledged gin specialist bar. Naturally, you’d find the classic gin and tonic available here, but go off-course and try some of the bar’s sous vide fruit-infused gin and tonics for a refreshing change. Gin-based cocktails also steal the show with classics like the colonial-era Gin Pahit, which made its appearance in several W Somerset Maugham books. We love that Pahit is located in a quiet area in the heart of the city — making it a place to see and be seen, while waiting out the peak hour traffic.
Pahit, 3, Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Kuala Lumpur, +603-2110 0776
(Image credit: Pahit)
Hidden in the basement of Wisma E&C in Bukit Damansara, Jack Rose may prove a difficult find. But the folks running the bar insist that it’s #notaspeakeasy — this is repeated throughout its Instagram posts. The name of the bar itself is in fact a nod towards a classic 1920s cocktail of the same name. If you’ve not heard of the cocktail, it’s because it has since fallen out of style thanks to the decline of popularity in applejack, one of its main ingredients. It goes without saying that you’d be able to find the Jack Rose here, but that’s not all the place is good at. Flip through its morbidly witty, illustrated menu, or get the bartenders to recommend you a drink or two. Pro tip: Order the buffalo wings to go with your drinks.
Jack Rose, 2, Wisma E&C, B1 Lorong Dungun Kiri, Kuala Lumpur, +6012-689 0020
(Image credit: Jack Rose)
Coffee salon by day and gin parlour by night, the first thing you’ll notice as soon as you step into Maze is how decadently extravagant it looks. The plush lounge and luxurious interior coupled with tall and thick red drapes exude opulence. As a gin parlour, Maze boasts more than 100 different kinds of gins imported from all around the world. Enhance your gin knowledge by ordering the “gin-sum”, a pun-tastic twist to the dim sum cart where your bottle of gin comes in a pushcart with a variety of fresh fruits and herbs. Experiment with your fresh produce and discover how gin can taste differently with these ingredients.
Maze, 1st Floor, Menara Lien Hoe, No 8 Persiaran Tropicana, Petaling Jaya, +6010-311 1888
(Image credit: Maze)
The latest and hottest addition to the bar scene in KL is Birch, which opened its doors a week ago. Helmed by the boys behind the now-defunct Case Study back in APW, Bangsar, this watering hole focuses on experimental cocktails, fusing Asian and Western flavours together. Case in point: Stinging in the Bush is a cocktail that merges stinging nettle pisco with a rambutan infusion. Go for a walk on the wild side with Holy Shiit-ake!, a cocktail that contains beurre noisette-infused gin, shiitake mushroom rinomato, strawberry infusion, a salted herb blend, and lemon.
Birch, Damansara City Mall, Jalan Damanlela, Kuala Lumpur, +6017-274 2110
(Image credit: Birch)
With most of the new bars opting for the raw and unpolished look, Modern Society takes the path less travelled and indulges in a minimalist but sophisticated interior. With its high ceilings, marble table tops, and pulsating neon lights display, this is a place we’d love to be spotted in on a Friday night. Cocktails-wise, the bar’s selection is extensive and experimental. The Big Breakfast particularly piques our interest for its combination of cold brew coffee and vodka. A daytime drink for the night? Why not. The Scientist will also draw attention in real life and on Instagram, thanks to its interesting contraption of a coffee siphon, which dispenses your cocktail hot.
Modern Society, L1-10, Level 1, Damansara City Mall, Jalan Damanlela, Kuala Lumpur, +603-2771 9710
(Image credit: Modern Society)