Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Cocktail stories + where to drink
With Ryan’s birthday mere hours away, we’d decided to kick things off in style by heading out into the suburbs to find what we’d been promised to be one of the city’s best cocktails. The suburbs. The hubris.
Things derailed quickly when we stepped into the doorway to find a bar well past capacity with no chance of getting in. No fret though, this is where we excel right? Off we set to the next bar on the list, soon realizing the error of our ways as we trotted on the highway, re-entering KL (unaware we’d ever left) and into a potential Walking Dead set. The empty, quiet streets left Ryan with little faith that I had any idea what I was doing.
Nevertheless, into the basement we went and headed into what we soon realized to be bar we wish existed everywhere, Jack Rose.
Co-owned by Callan C Green and James Estes, Jack Rose has all the signs of a bar run by people who give a shit. The cocktail menu is succinct but diverse, featuring enough to please any palete without offering up anything you’ve seen before. Each drink has a raison d’être, stemming at least in part from Callan’s frustration with bars pumping out cocktails without rhyme or reason. We had the chance to chat with him and it was clear from the start this is a man who cares about what’s in your glass. The passion shows in the drinks, which were all exceptional – local ingredients and quality spirits combine to make some of the most unique drinks we had while exploring the bars of KL.
While you’re enjoying The Devil’s in the Drink, with it’s fresh mix of tequila, suze, pickled pear and citrus, don’t forget to check out the food menu. Hot wings are prepared to order here, ready to be doused in any one of the many hot sauces lining the bar. Go on, enjoy. We dare you.
Find Jack Rose at Wisma E&C, B1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Cocktails in Kuala Lumpur
As with any big city, the global cocktail trend is taking hold in KL where bartenders are putting their spin on classics and inventing brand-new concoctions unlike any we’ve had before. Sampling these was a real treat and we certainly found a few new favourites. Read to see what they were, but keep in mind a little research will reveal there’s plenty more where these came from – so dig a little and enjoy a toast on your next stopover.
8, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
With a menu of classic and signature drinks, all highlighting local flavours, you’ll be hard pressed to order anything you won’t immediately fall in love with. The chill vibe almost insists you spend the night laughing with good friends. Bonus: our bartender shared recos on where else to find great cocktails.
150 Ground Floor, Jalan Petaling, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hiding behind an old toy store façade, PS150 is the kind of speakeasy you want to find. A trio of dark rooms transport you to another time and place, while bartenders serve up refreshing cocktails for those hot Malaysian nights. Of particular note: dive into beautiful punch bowls for a deviously great night.
208, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Admittedly a bit out of place in backpacker central, we weren’t sure what to expect here. What we found was a pair of bartenders, beaming with pride for their daily cocktail, a mix of ginger, cilantro, dried bananas and whisky. It was tasty indeed and I only hope the two have more say over the menu.
Heli Lounge Bar
Bukit Bintang 34th Floor, Menara KH, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
To caveat, this isn’t where you’re going for a cocktail. Get your standard – beer and whisky for us – and head up before 6pm. The bar opens onto a helicopter pad 36 floors above KL, revealing beautiful city views and a breathtaking sunset. Kick off your night here then head on once the darkness rolls in.
Of course, there are others. A few we found but didn’t have time to visit are below. Have you been? Let us know what you thought: