Spirits-focused bars had quite a bumper year in 2017, with a handful cropping up across KL to join the ranks of those who had come before them. Here’s a rundown of eight such places, for people with, ahem, singular tastes (without that ridiculous Red Room of Pain).
A nod to the famous gin cocktail enjoyed in old Malaya, Pahit is a casual, pared back joint with a solid gin collection – stocking everything from the usual suspects, to a number of contemporary gins. They do gin-based cocktails, in-house infusions, and also have a DJ playing disco tunes on Saturday nights to help lift your spirits.
Pahit, 3, Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tue-Sun: 5pm - 1am; Mon: Closed
The opulent bar that functions as a coffee and tea saloon during the day and moonlights as a gin parlour by night has a selection of over 200 bottles of gin from around the world, with some rare and unique bottles available only here. They also regularly host a ‘Ginology 101’ masterclass for guests to learn more about gin and sample some craft bottlings.
MAZE - 1st floor Menara Lien Hoe, No.8 Persiaran Tropicana, Tropicana Golf & Country Resort, 47410 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Sun-Thu: 12pm - 1am; Fri-Sat: 12pm - 2am
Named after Malaysia’s famous cocktail, JungleBird is a tropical-style (but not tiki!) rumah rum with an inviting Malaysiana vibe. They have a “constantly evolving selection” of over 100 rums from all over the world, and they’re always on the lookout for something new for their customers. Try their rum flights to get a proper rundown of their offerings.
JungleBird - 15 Plaza Damansara, Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Sun-Wed: 5pm - 1am; Thu-Sat: 5pm - 3am
The Rum Bar KL
Launched in 2017, it’s one of the newest drinking-dining concepts in Changkat that has an impressive collection of over 250 spirits distilled from fermented molasses or freshly pressed sugarcane juice. Peruse the rum list alphabetically or by region, and opt for a rum and cigar pairing experience. If you fancy a bite, the menu offers contemporary Latino cuisine made with ingredients from Borneo.
The Rum Bar KL - 47 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sun-Thu: 4pm - 1am; Fri - Sat: 4pm - 3am
Hidden away over a Japanese restaurant in the unassuming neighbourhood of Damansara Uptown is 61 Monarchy, the home of quite a sizeable collection of whiskies from around the world (400 labels and counting, so they say). It’s a cosy place attractively decorated with lush tropical prints and wicker furniture. Should you find yourself drawn to a Japanese whisky, you can complete the experience by ordering from the menu of the restaurant downstairs, Nara, and have it sent up to your table.
61 Monarchy - 61M, Jalan SS21/1A, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Mon-Sat: 5pm - 2am; Sun: Closed
The Whisky Bar
In the beginning there was The Whisky Bar. Now, the granddaddy of whisky bars in KL has amassed a staggering collection of about 650 bottles (as of the time of writing), including Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, American bourbon, and also some rare single malt and Scotch. If you don’t know where to start, spoil yourself and explore their collection with a whisky flight. This is the place for any self-respecting whisky connoisseur to go.
The Whisky Bar - 46 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sun-Thu: 4pm - 1am; Fri-Sat: 4pm - 3am
One of the rooms in the lovingly restored colonial home (and seriously chic boutique hotel) Macalister Mansion is a whisky-lover’s dream – The Den is quite possibly the best concentration of premium whiskies on the island. Specialising in single cask and single malts sourced from all over the world, they invite you to sink into any one of their plush armchairs with a dram in one hand and a cigar in the other.
The Den @ Macalister Mansion - 228 Macalister Road, George Town, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Sun-Thu: 5pm - 1am; Fri-Sat: 5pm - 2am)