Bringing you tipples from the old to the bold, the burgeoning cocktail scene in Kuala Lumpur is witnessing the rise of passionate bars with warm hospitality, imaginative spaces and innovative flavours. Helmed by some of the best bartenders in Malaysia, needless to say, you are in for a treat. Here are the best cocktail bars in KL, with timeless classics and charming local infusions.
Fashioned like a spaceship, Reka:Bar is a “post-modern flavour lab”, constantly pushing the limits of mixology with inventive drinks. In their “The Domino Effect” menu, each cocktail shares an ingredient with the one before creating a chain of flavours. The bar also rolls out themed seasonal menus, like the current “Unseen Beauty”, which spotlights stories of lesser-known cultures. For instance, Bor-Honey is an elegant clarified yoghurt drink with Ocho Blanco and Ginger-Honey, created in honour of an ex-Bangladeshi bartender. One the other hand, get a taste of Nepal in Nomadic Breakfast, a hot cocktail infused with Michter’s Bourbon topped with butter foam.
Reka:Bar is located at 67M, Jln Setia Bakti, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 10 287 8908. Open Mon-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri- Sat 6pm-2am & Sun 5pm-12am.
Tucked within the shophouses of Damansara Heights, this resort-themed bar takes you from Malaysia to the Caribbeans with its rum-based drinks and rattan furnishings. The no.35 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars features over 250 rum labels curated from around the world, making them the undisputed Rumah Rum (meaning house of rum in Bahasa Melayu). Their finesse for rum is clear in their JungleBird cocktail, balanced with layers of Diplomatico Mantuano rum and pineapple juice, and the Malaysian-inspired rojak-in-a-cocktail, Nyonya Business. To refuel, the all-day destination also serves delectable bar bites such as the highly-raved The Cubano.
JungleBird KL is located at 61M, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3-2011 5715. Open Mon-Tue 4pm-12am, Wed-Thu 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2am & Sun 12pm-12am.
Paying homage to the species they are named after, the No.29 on Asia’s Best Bars offers a Honey Flights menu dedicated to raising awareness about honeybees. Explore the complex flavours of raw honey in the Trigona Old Fashioned, or try the classic Bees Knees, stirred in withTrigona honey. Their Foraged Malaysia menu transforms local flavours into cocktails like the Sabah Tea-based Teh Tarik with Michter’s Rye and Monk Fruit and their spin on the pork rib soup in the aromatic Ba Kut Eh? cocktail mixed with Jura 12-Year Single Malt, Sweet Vermouth, and the original Ba Kut Teh.
Bar Trigona is located at Four Seasons Hotel, 145, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p+ +60 3-2382 8670. Open daily, 5pm-1am.
From pop-up bars and operating from the back of shops to finally putting down roots at Bangsar, Coley is undoubtedly one of the forerunners in KL’s burgeoning cocktail scene. With its warm and inviting atmosphere and a flair for innovative cocktails, the bar reached No.100 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2022. Their menu sees Malaysian-inspired cocktails such as the simple Gin & Coconut and the refreshing Vodka & Pear. Outside local flavours, their classics include a Hanky Spanky, a pomegranate twist to the classic Hanky Panky. Don’t miss their bar bites, too, especially the indulgent Steak Freaks.
Coley is located at 6-G, Jalan Abdullah, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 19-270 9179. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-1am. Closed on Sun.
Named after the old colonial drink of gin and bitters, Pahit, the sister bar of Coley, is a gin-focused bar teeming with hippie vibes. Its wide range of gin, bitters, and botanicals, lined against the back bar, offers a wide variety of tastes that brings “Juniper & Joy” to all gin drinkers. G&Ts come in a variety of tonics and garnishes, while local flavours come through their in-house infused gin cocktails like Lychee and Ginger Flower and Jackfruit and Lime. Their version of the Pahit cocktail combines London Dry Gin, bitters, house-made falernum syrup, and lime juice for a complex kick.
Pahit is located at 3, Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Bukit Bintang, 50150 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 3-2110 0776. Open Tues-Fri 5pm-1am & Sat-Sun 3pm-1am. Closed on Mon.
Even though its establishment in Chinatown seats a cosy 25 persons, Penrose has quickly gained the endorsement of cocktail drinkers through art and arithmetic. Led by mixologist Jon Lee, Penrose crafts classic cocktails by drawing on a five-compound liquid structure – attention to alcohol, dilution, body, flavour, and taste. With this formula, skilled bartenders elevate classics like highballs, sours and more. Have a go at the Ume Fuji, a light and fruity twist to the whisky highball or opt for something richer like the Xoco Negro, a chocolate take on Negroni.
Penrose KL is located at 149, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-1am. Closed on Mon & Tue.
Housed within a grungy pre-war shophouse, Triptky, the sustainably-minded bar, teems with character and purpose. Its laid-back atmosphere and wide range of low ABV and zero-proof offerings, alongside regular cocktails, appeal to both seasoned and new drinkers. A drink at Triptyk is more than a mixture of liquids; it is a memory or a person etched in the mind of its creator. A sip of the Hafu, with shiitake mushroom Vermouth, miso Tequila, and Jameson seaweed bitters,reflects the warmth of a man who enjoyed meals with his loved ones. While the Burung Hutan is a zero-proof option created in honour of Malaysia’s national Tiki cocktail, Jungle Bird.
Triptyk is located at 88, Jalan Tuba, Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 14-320 8050. Open Wed-Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 12pm-8pm & Sun 12pm-10pm. Closed on Mon & Tue.
Inspired by the Midnight Diner series, Bar Mizukami is a one-man-show bar that welcomes a maximum of 10 tipplers at a time. Its cosy environment means you get to interact and come up close with bartender-owner Shawn Chong as he shakes your cocktails a la omakase-style. With its endless selections of off-the-menu drinks (because there is no menu), delight in cocktails specially crafted to match your requests and preferences. Or just “go with the flow” in a personal and personable experience at bar Mizukami.
Bar Mizukami is located at Bangunan Ming Annexe, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 16-301 6498. Open Tue-Thu 6pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. Closed on Mon & Sun.
As one of Malaysia’s few female-owned and operated bars, Bar Terumi is designed around the comfort and safety of its customers. A sense of tenderness sweeps over the space with warm gentle hues, and soft music drawing customers to this cocktail sanctuary. The bartender combines Malaysian flavours with Shirmy Chan’s Japanese-inspired bartending techniques, evident in signature cocktails like Hakanai, a G&T- styled cocktail with house-blend guava tonic water and assam boi foam, topped with a slice of fresh guava. Alternatively, inspired by the assam laksa, the Lillet Blanc-based Opal sees the laksa leaf infused in chocolate liqueur.
Bar Terumi is located at 9a, Jalan 20/16, Taman Paramount, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, p. +60 11-5915 0308. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-12am. Closed Sun.
Three X Co
Accessible through a barbershop at Bangsar Shopping Centre, Three X Co imitates The Great Gatsby with its stylishly relaxed decor of dark leather furniture with gold accents and vintage glassware. The speakeasy-inspired bar carries a well-curated selection of top-shelf gins and whiskies, with which they craft their menu, featuring the Cocktails Signature Series. Local and oriental-inspired ingredients take the spotlight in cocktails like Mr Wong’s Choice, layered with bourbon, chrysanthemum, homemade longan liqueur and Pei Pa Kao, an oriental twist to the Old Fashioned. While the Penang white nutmeg fronts Balik Pulau with Hendricks’ gin and clarified milk.
Three X Co is located at Lot T6A, Level 3, Bangsar Shopping Centre, 285, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, p. +60 19-336 6031. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-12am & Fri 5pm-1am. Closed on Sat & Sun.