Tucked away in Bangsar’s coffee joint Dr.Inc is Coley, a cozy and unpretentious cocktail bar run by CK, who is no stranger here himself having ran 44Bar when it popped up in the same space last year. This permanent installation – designed with Nala Design’s signature Asian-inspired patterns – reflects CK’s approach to cocktails that are simple and nuanced, with a pleasing focus on the Malaysian palate.
Vin’s in Taman Tun Dr Ismail has always had its regulars thanks to its excellent service and good food, which is now extended to a space upstairs. The Velvet Lounge is a private drinking space that opened around late-March, and last we checked, access to it restricted to the manager’s discretion (just ask the bartenders downstairs about the bar above).
With nine entries in the Asia 50 Best Bars List for 2016 – including the top spot – there’s little doubt that Singapore is a driving force for the fast-rising cocktail scene in the region. Given the staggering number of bars that have popped up over the recent years, however, we thought you might need a handy guide to know where to go.
Here are five of our favourite hangouts..
Financial forecasts might predict a dismal year ahead but it doesn’t seem to be the case, judging from the rate of new bars that are popping up every week in Klang Valley. As if Malaysia’s thirst for alcohol cannot be quenched fast enough, any mere mention of the word “speakeasy” will send us into a cocktail induced frenzy. If that sounds like you to a T, then you will be excited about the arrival of The Vault KL.
PS150 isn’t shy about being part of the modern speakeasy trend. Hidden behind a toy store façade, the bar was once a former brothel, now remade into an intimate space for convivial drinking. Within its narrow space are three separate areas – the main lounge, smoking area, and private booths – with the main bar lounge decorated in paraphernalia of lanterns, porcelain spittoons, and red neon signs that serve to tell you that yes, you are in Chinatown.
For a bar that that’s fairly elusive – with its lack of a signboard and its only access being an elevator next to Huckleberry Food & Fare café to the third floor – would make one assume it to be a hidden gem, a speakeasy of sorts. Except Nomi Tomo is no such place to be called a speakeasy, as on a busy night, you’ll be doing anything but speaking easy.
Enter the retro-futuristic world of Hugo Steampunk, a new bar in Section 19, PJ that was reincarnated to look as if you’ve stepped into a Jules Verne novel, complete with industrial art, steel and wood furniture. Don’t assume Hugo Steampunk Premium is all style and no substance, however, as this new watering offers a selection of delightful cocktails that will command your attention as well as Hugo’s aesthetic will.
Where: 16, Jalan 19/1, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening Hours: 4pm – 1am, Mon – Sat. Closed Sun.
There may be a shortage in aged whiskeys worldwide but it doesn’t seem to be the case at 61 Monarchy, Klang Valley’s newest haven in Damansara Uptown that specifically caters to drinkers with a fiery passion for whiskeys.
The popularity of speakeasies continues with the soft opening of The Locker & Loft, a new cocktail bar partly owned by Entrepreneurial Maverick Paul Dass & The Thirsty Blogger, Deepak Gill. Located on the same row as Online Pub, the bar features a list of refreshing cocktails like the Kelapa Rock (coconut water and vodka) and Mo’ Money (Mezcal, watermelon, strawberry puree, and basil), alongside a good selection of whiskeys. Another plus point: the prices are among the most reasonable in the KL cocktail bar scene.
Address: 40A, Jalan SS20/10, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Opening hours: 5pm – 1am
If you find yourself in the Taman SEA side of Petaling Jaya, pay Mr. Wolf a visit. Sprawled out over two levels, Mr. Wolf is PJ’s newest establishment that will quench your thirst with its extensive drink menu of beers and spirits that go down well with their offerings of honest-to- (porky) goodness bar snacks like deep fried pig ears and pork skin “nachos”. Mr. Wolf also has menu of Asian fusion dishes and desserts, making this place a great choice for a dinner-to- drinks session with friends.
Where: 5, Jalan SS23/11, Taman Sea, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 5pm till late.