If there’s one thing I don’t enjoy, it’s yelling over my drinks whilst struggling to comprehend what my mate’s just shouted back at me. Call me old, but personally, I’m over the club vibe where people are packed like sardines, and you end the evening reeking of an ashtray. I’ll have a chilled session at a bar or lounge, please.
While bangin’ beats and hedonistic outings are all well and fine, if you’re anything like me, or wish to opt for an ambience that’s more laid-back so you and your pals can get inebriated without going full-on ratchet, then this list is for you. We’re talking about spaces in and around Kuala Lumpur (KL) where meaningful conversations can happen with a dash of fun, a sprig of banter, and heaping serving of delectable cocktails.
Astor Bar, The St. Regis KL
Luxury is the order of the day at Astor Bar. Imbued with modern-day glamour while still maintaining an Old World charm, Astor Bar and Decanter jointly boast offerings to their patrons over 650 labels to choose from. While they’ve got a secluded wine cellar replete with a gold-tiled dome ceiling, whiskey lovers will enjoy The Macallan M Room — the country’s first and only experiential whiskey bar.
Address: Level 2 at The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur, No. 6, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2727 6680
Frank’s Bar, Avenue K, KL
Personally, we love a good Italian meal at Natalina’s and always choose to culminate the evening with a round (or two) of drinks at Frank’s. Simply put, it’s a Sinatra-inspired speakeasy smack bang in KL where the cocktails are anything but.
Our personal favourite is the Ramen Beats. Served in a small noodle bowl and with chopsticks as an added accoutrement to help you munch on the cocktail’s white chocolate noodles, this sweet and sour yet floral concoction features Bombay Sapphire gin, Kizakura Karachi sake, Morinokura shiso umeshu plum liqueur, sakura tea flower syrup, lemon juice, and Japanese bitters shiso.
Address: Avenue K, Unit 06 Level 03, 156, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 012-674 4860
Bar Trigona, Four Seasons KL
Having shown up on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list for the last three years and the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2020 and 2021 (among many other accolades), you know you’re in for a good time and a good drink at Bar Trigona. Located in the ultra-bougie Four Seasons KL, all of Bar Trigona’s details are highly considered — from the decadent menu of signature cocktails (give Red Bird a go) to the gob-smacking interiors and the ambience.
If you’re as discerning as the other guests who frequent Bar Trigona, consider allowing their master bartenders to customise a drink for you. Whatever you decide, it’ll be crafted from local and sustainable ingredients.
Address: 145 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2382 8670
Coppersmith, Troika Sky Dining, KL
A simple and quiet space, this is the perfect spot for a nightcap after a meal at one of Troika Sky Dining’s fine establishments. While not a decadently-decked-out bar, the views here are what do the talking with insanely high floor-to-ceiling window panes that give you a view of the city as you listen to smooth jazz. The menu here may seem simple too, but trust when we say that whatever they make, they make well.
Address: Level 23A Tower B, The Troika, 19, Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2162 0886
61 Monarchy, Petaling Jaya
If you love all things whiskey and a more relaxed speakeasy atmosphere, this is the place for you. Whether it be Scottish, Welsh, Canadian, or Australian, you want it, they’ve got it. And fret not about feeling overwhelmed with the myriad options. The helpful team at 61 Monarchy will help you find the perfect malt.
Address: 61M, Jalan SS 21/1a, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: +6018 213 9291
Three x Co, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Bangsar
Another Bond-worthy speakeasy to check out, Three x Co is another bar that’s won numerous awards and recognitions — including placing at 47 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars for 2021. And it’s little wonder why, when the leading man behind the counter is none other than mixologist David Hans, Winner of The Giffard West Cup 2017 International. On occasion, they invite other guest mixologists too, such as Iron Balls ambassador, Carson Quinn and House of Angostura’s Global Brand Ambassador, Daniyel Jones — the Caribbean master of bitters.
We particularly love how clever their menu is. For instance, choose from the witty ‘cockytails’ that are locally- and orientally-inspired. Otherwise, the Inner Circle list puts a special spin on stuffy, old classics. Whatever you land on, it’ll surely have a story.
Address: Bangsar Shopping Centre, Lot T6A, Level 3, 285, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6019-336 6031
JungleBird, Bukit Damansara
Another one for us to be proud of! JungleBird currently holds the number 35 spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. From the name, it’s needless to say that the main focus here is rum. Dubbing themselves a ‘tropical Rumah Rum’ (or tropical rum house) and the house of fun, JungleBird also draws inspiration from local surroundings — hence all the rattan furniture and bamboo-print wallpaper.
So, if you enjoy a good old jungle bird (the classic rum cocktail itself), you’ve come to the right place. JungleBird curates a collection of rums from all over the world, changing their selection from time to time to allow patrons to experience and taste new ones. If you’re not a rum fan, though, there’s still a wide array of other spirits to choose from, so you’ll be alright.
Address: 61M, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2011 5715
Okaju, Starhill, Bukit Bintang
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Why is a Japanese omakase and robatayaki restaurant on a list of bars and lounges? Well, hear us out. A new kid on the block, this contemporary Japanese restaurant has two private rooms — one for dinner and another specifically for drinks.
With such a wide array of premium sakes and Japanese whiskies to choose from, consider this little enclave your go-to for all brews Nippon. And since it’s a private room explicitly designed for drinks and conversation, you can be certain of the perfect evening. You likely won’t need to share the space either.
Address: G Floor, Starhill Gallery, 181, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6012 419 3090