Kuala Lumpur has bagged two spots on the coveted Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 for the first time. In a ceremony held in Singapore, it was announced that Coley took the 46th spot, while JungleBird brought home the 38th spot as The Best Bar in Malaysia. Both are brand new entries to the list — a telling sign of great things to come. Omakase + Appreciate which landed on the 41st spot in 2017 and 10th in 2016 did not make it on this year’s list.

JungleBird is KL’s first rum bar, and is now Malaysia’s best bar. (Credit: JungleBird)

JungleBird is an innovative rum bar with tiki vibes. Located in Plaza Damansara, it is KL’s first bar specialising in rum and its menu boasts no less than 30 cocktails including the bar’s namesake. For first-timers, try out the rum flights featuring varieties of Latin-style rums and French Caribbean rhum agricole, also known as cane juice rum. The bar now has a formidable rum collection of 150 carefully curated bottles, some of which are limited releases.

Coley, which landed at number 46 was also voted the Best Cocktail Bar in The Bar Awards 2017 held in KL last year.  The bar’s co-founder Kho Chee Keong (fondly known as CK) also won Bartender of the Year. This little hole-in-the-wall joint in Bangsar utilises local and tropical ingredients and is a strong advocate of sustainability, choosing to use no plastic straws in their bar.

Asia's 50 Best Bars 2018
Coley enters the 46th spot in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018. (Credit: Coley)

The two bars now form part of a vaunted list that’s an annual ranking system for Asia inaugurated in 2016. It was conceived by William Reed Business Media — the same organisation that produces the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Bars are voted by a panel which comprises of over 200 journalists, bartenders, owners, and cocktail aficionados based in Asia. To vote, members list seven choices in numerical preferences, based on their best bar experiences over the last 18 months. A minimum of three of the votes must go to bars located outside their country of residence.

“The Asian bar scene is undoubtedly rising fast,” said William Drew, Group Editor of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. “These bars have created their own local and regional identities, and that’s really important — they are not just facsimiles of the great cocktail bars in London and New York. I think this innovative spirit in Asia is really exciting.”

Here is the full list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 winners (Malaysian bars are noted in bold):

1. Manhattan — Singapore
2. Indulge Experimental Bistro – Taipei, Taiwan
3. Speak Low – Shanghai, China
4. Atlas – Singapore
5. The Old Man — Hong Kong, China (highest new entry)
6. High Five — Tokyo, Japan
7. Tippling Club – Singapore
8. Native – Singapore
9. The Bamboo Bar – Bangkok, Thailand
10. Lobster Bar & Grill — Hong Kong, China
11. Stockton – Hong Kong, China
12. 28 Hong Kong Street – Singapore
13. Backstage – Bangkok, Thailand
14. Sober Company – Shanghai, China
15. Quinary – Hong Kong, China
16. Trench – Tokyo, Japan
17. Le Chamber – Seoul, S Korea (moved up 15 places – highest climber)
18. Zuma – Hong Kong, China
19. Operation Dagger – Singapore
20. Bar Benfiddich – Tokyo, Japan
21. Charles H – Seoul, S. Korea
22. Gibson – Singapore
23. Employees Only – Singapore
24. 8 ½ Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China
25. The Curator Coffee & Cocktails – Manila, Philippines
26. Alice Cheongdam – Seoul, Korea
27. Vesper – Bangkok, Thailand
28. Union Trading Company – Shanghai, China
29. Smalls – Bangkok, Thailand
30. Janes & Hooch – Beijing, China
31. The Pontiac — Hong Kong, China
32. D.Bespoke – Singapore
33. Nutmeg & Clove – Singapore
34. Gen Yamamoto – Tokyo, Japan
35. TCRC – Tainan, Taiwan
36. Potato Head Beach Club – Bali, Indonesia
37. Bar Orchard Ginza – Tokyo, Japan
38. JungleBird – KL, Malaysia
39. Loewy – Jakarta, Indonesia
40. Mixology Salon – Tokyo, Japan
41. Union Brasserie Bakery & Bar – Jakarta, Indonesia
42. Jigger & Pony – Singapore
43. Star bar – Tokyo
44. Teens of Thailand – Bangkok
45. The Lamp Bar – Nara, Japan
46. Coley – KL, Malaysia
47. Keepers – Seoul, S. Korea
48. The Ritz Carlton Bar & Lounge – Macau, China
49. Ku bar – Bangkok, Thailand
50. The Other Room – Singapore


PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.