Having been around for almost a century, the Coliseum Café on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is a Kuala Lumpur institution. We chec...
Speaking to Speakeasies
No longer illegal, but still drawing crowds - 5 Speakeasies in KL we love
By Michelle Gunaselan
Date: 29 September 2015
Clandestine and most often run by criminals with moonshine that could probably blind with its alcohol content and dubious distilling methods, speakeasies in America during Prohibition-era were more a necessity than its current form of retro styled bars serving some extremely good cocktails, made with premium alcohol. Yes, you can say a lot has change since then. The ability to gather people around a good drink and a “hidden” establishment hasn’t though, and thank goodness for that!
Here are some of our favourites in the city:
Another addition to a growing list of F&B establishments in the now hip suburb of Damansara Jaya, HYDE inspires the spirit of Prohibition-era America in its decor, and choice of music. Andrew Tan its resident bartender is almost never seen without a vest, either. Home to one of the biggest and best Bloody Mary’s in KL (it looks like it has entire meal stuck on a glass in the jumbo version), the cocktail list includes over 100 cocktails made to order. Go with friends.
Jalan SS 21/1a, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
+6012 299 5897
2. The Attic Bar
A quaint bar in downtown KL and definitely s big hit with the backpackers staying there, the Attic Bar is a favourite for its low prices and rustic decor. Attached tot he Travel Hub hostel and located on the third floor of the old building (be careful navigating its stairs while inebriated!), the views and drinks are too good to be true. But lucky for us, it’s all real.
3rd Floor, 15 Jalan Balai Polis, Off Petaling Street, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
3. Omakase + Appreciate
One of the older speakeasies in KL, and located behind an ominous looking door at the basement of a building in an equally dodgy part of KL, mixologists Karl Too and Shawn Chong sure got the secrecy and clandestine elements of the speakeasy down to pat. The drinks are also on form. Cocktail lists are changed frequently, but you can also tell them your favourites tastes, mixers and alcohol - then, well, Omakase and appreciate. It can get a bit packed on weekends, so going early does help!
Lower Ground, Bangunan Ming Annexe, 9 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
4. TATE at the Intermark
The hat. Just look for the hat on the ground floor. And a door. Truly a hidden gem, TATE astounds with interesting concoctions done to perfection. Dimly lit with nooks and corners, it is indeed as secret as a speakeasy should be. The quality of the drinks however, is everything to shout about. The usual suspects can be ordered, or go with a signature list of drinks. For lovers of martinis, try a very filthy martini, made exactly the way martinis should be made.
Ground floor, The Intermark, 182 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 KL
+60 3 2161 2368
5. The Bar, Empire Damansara
Not exactly a speakeasy, it’s true. But it is a hidden gem. Run by Sam Kinugawa and his partner, The Bar is a great place to come to for quite nights of solitude or reflection. The decor at the bar itself is unobtrusive, a spotlight serving to light up whatever beauty you’ve just asked to imbibe. While the seats on the side, are comfortable and welcoming. Let Sam take care of you, with his precisely made drinks. And while you wait for your drink, there’s even izakaya style skewers that are pretty decent. A must-try is the Moscow Mules made with Belvedere and Sam’s very own ginger ale, all served with a subtle flourish in a copper mug.
The Bar by Osam Kinugawa
112, First Floor, Empire Damansara, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
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