Cheers to the freakin’ weekend *cues our inner Rihanna*
When people think about Kuala Lumpur, the first thing that comes to mind apart from the food is the nightlife. From rows of bars in Changkat to abundance of clubs such as Zouk Club, Providence, Play Club, Rootz, Capricorn and more to midnight street food and hookah (shisha) or “mamak” sessions, Kuala Lumpur is pretty much a city that never sleeps.
Off late, Kuala Lumpur’s glorious nightlife has taken on a new form – speakeasy bars. What are speakeasy bars, you may ask? Well, speakeasy bars are establishments that are meant to be kept hidden. Not meant to be found, these bars are instead to be stumbled upon by those looking for something a little underground, secluded, and private, or a watering hole that is only spoken about amongst those in the know.
Sounds interesting no? Speakeasy bars make for our kind of bars – chilled, secluded, and personal. Given that it is a Friday and that the weekend is here, we are feeling a little generous! We’re going to give you a list of some of the finest hidden establishments in Kuala Lumpur. We might give you an address, we might not – depending on your luck 😉
1. Omakase + Appreciate
Brainchild of mixologists Shawn Chong and Kart Too, Omakase + Appreciate is really tricky to locate. Mixing service styles of Japanese and Western to décor of East and West, Omakase + Appreciate is an eclectic bar that brings various elements together to achieve the perfect balance – just like a perfect cocktail. If you happen to or manage to spot a ventilation cupboard door in the basement of a well-known building near Masjid Jamek, then you have found yourself a door to a little piece of secret alcoholic heaven. From friendly barmen to a flow of drinks, Omakase + Appreciate changes their cocktails every 2 weeks and if you can’t decide what you want, they’ll whip one up, especially for you.
When we first heard about Barlai from our friends, we thought they were kidding because we honestly thought that they were trying to prank us into going to a “balai” (police station). But boy, were we wrong. Now, we know that people generally tend to avoid the back alleys of Kuala Lumpur, especially at night and that’s completely understandable which is why, for this one, we will give you a hint as to where it is located. Nestled away in the delight of Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Pudu, Barlai is part of The Big Group. Set in an old bungalow featuring an old-meets-new design, there are no signs, no loud noises, and no pointers to where exactly Barlai is, so keep a lookout for a homely porch with a half hidden sign on the inside for your guide to a hip spot with lovely cocktails.
3. Whisky Tango Foxtrot
The perfect hideout for cigar enthusiasts and any self-respecting whisky drinker, Whisky Tango Foxtrot offers some of the finest cigars in Kuala Lumpur and also a huge variety of imported whisky, including the absolute delicious and legendary Japanese whisky, “Nikka”. Those who finds their way to Whisky Tango Foxtrot will be treated to advice on the best cigar for them as well as tips on different types of whisky. Mmpphhh! A red London phone box is what you should be looking out for by the way 😉
4. Mr Brooks
Although Mr Brooks is pitched as a gentleman’s club, it is often frequented by both men and women. Cool, urban, and distinctly secluded, this drinking den features cool decor with mirrored walls as well as cosy corners and uniquely named cocktails. Apart from just chilling, those who make it to Mr Brooks can also enjoy a game or 2 of pool or sit and watch the mixologist do his thing as he creates weird and lovely looking cocktails. Look for a purple Alpine Sunbeam parked in a garage for entry!
5. Way Modern Chinois
Way Modern Chinois is a classy, sensual avant-garde modern cuisine restaurant specializing in contemporary Chinese / Asian cuisine. A labour of love in many ways, it is the brainchild of a boutique property developer and Asian private equity investor, both of whom are avid foodies and Chinese food enthusiasts. In Mandarin, Way means “unique” or “one and only”. The essence of Way is modern fine dining Chinese cuisine served with a subtle twist and sophistication. The entrance is a unique lift door which opens and transports the diner to a world of exquisite indulgence.
If you haven’t been to Tate, you’re missing out. We love the hidden bar for so many reasons, the biggest one being their entrance, which has been quite accidentally-on-purpose designed to blend right into the wall. So if you walk by it too fast, you’d damn well miss it. After you’ve found it, however, you’ll see that Tate is done up to exude a style of the 1920s era. The size of the bar is big enough to accommodate a small party yet intimate enough for those who want to have drinks with a date or a special someone, or even alone. No one will find you! Tip? Keep a lookout for the top hat.
So, there you have it! 6 of our favourite speakeasy bars. Let us know if you have your own personal favourite speakeasy bar and if you manage to find those listed here. Happy hunting 😉