During the Prohibition era in the United States, there was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 till 1933. As for why, I’ll leave that for you to find out. During this era is when speakeasies were born.
Speakeasies were basically illegal establishments that sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era, but today, they’re just ‘hidden’ bars with some epic cocktails charged at high prices for their exclusivity and creativity. Let’s all admit; the bars aren’t exactly ‘hidden’. With a quick Google, we can find out where it is and all its social media pages, but it being ‘kind of hidden’ is what makes it fun because ‘normal’ people who pass by it wouldn’t realise Alice’s rabbit hole behind that tool shed, that storeroom, or that… wall.
And with Malaysia being such a unique and diverse country, we’ve got some interesting concoctions created by talented mixologists. So, here’s a bunch of ‘hidden’ bars with epic cocktails you can check out!
Started by two top-notch Malaysian bartenders, Shawn Chong and Karl Too, Omakase + Appreciate is the first speakeasy bar I’ve ever been to. The bar is hidden in the basement of an office building behind a foreboding entrance that made me go “But this is a storeroom. Why are we going into a- Ohhh daaamn” as I was walking in. This bar is also one of the top 10 bars in Asia’s Best Bars by Drinks International and is also one of Thirstmag’s top 50 bars in Asia. When I went there a couple of years back, I was still a poor student, and to me, the drinks were expensive. But as a working adult today, I’d say that the pricing is pretty standard for a speakeasy bar. My only comment is that the place was extremely crowded. So, as a disabled person, finding a seat was difficult and painful. I do love that smoking isn’t allowed inside since the place is fairly small and would make everyone feel uncomfortable. And I’m saying this as a smoker. I’m not sure if anything has changed since then though.
Address: Ampang Bangunan Ming Annexe, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I went to check out this speakeasy bar just last week and coincidently, I’m writing an article about it now! The world definitely works in mysterious ways. This hidden gem is in Damansara Kim, a few shops down from On-Line Pub – another bar I frequent – so you can imagine my surprise when I found out there’s a speakeasy bar so close by. The Locker and Loft has an amazing menu of Asian-accented snacks and a myriad of whimsical cocktails at pretty good prices.
Everyone should try their epic cocktails such as their Kelapa Rock which is just fresh coconut juice with 1.5 shots of Vodka and a touch of syrup; Brown-brown which is Milo Ais with 2 shots of Vodka; Bang Pow which is hibiscus-infused gin with homemade rose syrup, Creme de Cassis, lime juice and egg white; Olivier which is a mixture of basil and Olive oil-infused gin, lime, homemade tonic syrup, egg white and lemon bitters; Southern Quack which is black truffle-infused vodka, lemon juice, spiced-syrup, and orange bitters; and if you feel old skool, just get a bottle of Tuak!
What I loved, personally, is that they serve Brew Dog Punk IPA – which is not a cocktail – but as my bio states, I’m an ale lover, so I do appreciate them serving a refreshing IPA. And I’m not a ‘shots’ type of person, but I was given an extremely delicious shot which no one knows what’s in it, but it basically tasted like a fruit punch. If anyone knows what it is, please do leave me a message down below. It’s probably the only shot I’d love to have again.
Address: 40A, Jalan SS 20/10, Jalan Damansara, Damansara Kim, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
3. Hyde at 53m
Owned by the same folks as The Good Batch café, Hyde at 53M is separated into two spacious sections; the air-conditioned indoors and the pre-Sinatra jazz alfresco area that overlooks Damansara Utama. Its atmosphere is sexy, but not in a pretentious way with a wide selection of booze of choose from such as beers, wines, classic spirits or their crazy cocktails. And if you don’t know what you want, just ask the staff for a recommendation!
Address: 53, Jalan SS 21/1a, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Tate is a place you’d easily miss since there’s nothing there except a wall. But I think that was the point. Its concept was made to be exclusive, secret, truly hidden – I mean how many times have you been to a hidden bar and go “…this isn’t really hidden”. Tate’s concept is inspired by old speakeasies and private gentlemen’s clubs as it boasts its classy, intimate space which allows customers to easily lose themselves in its world.
Address: Ground floor, The Intermark, 182 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 KL, 50400, Malaysia
This is another speakeasy that surprised me as the cab dropped me right in front a bar I used to go every weekend; the D’Legends Bar, and I find out, then and there, that the Virgin & Throne is hidden right beside – and above – my go-to bar.
I definitely love its interior which showcases armoured knights, standing guard of the door, decors and banners that has a medieval theme. Plus, it had a section where all the chairs were massive leather armchairs (Chesterfield-style), and I love being in big and comfortable chairs. The place isn’t very stuffy with its decorations either and looked more like a simple Game of Thrones-themed bar (which is great), and thankfully not like the Tudors had vomited all over the place.
I had ordered one of the the house’s signature, the Virgin, whilst my friend had ordered the classic Miss Rita. Though mine was pretty darn epic, I had to say that hers was better though. Even though hers was probably stronger, it tasted amazing.
Address: 26-A-1st Floor, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Attic Bar’s locale is within the heart of Chinatown and if you’re travelling via public transportation, it’s only 5 minutes away from the Pasar Seni Station. This bar is a must-try as it serves not only classic alcoholic beverages but also amazing signature cocktails with local twists. And if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you should probably try their cocktails which were inspired by the characters of the show!
Address: Third Floor, No. 15, Jalan Balai Polis, City Centre, 50000, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
7. Private Room
Being the first speakeasy wine bar in Malaysia, the Private Room in TTDI do warn new customers to #findtheyellowdoor, and once you do, you’ll find this gorgeous bar that’s intimate and private, which differs from many other busy, crowded and noisy speakeasies. And since its more of a wine bar, do check out their wine offerings such as the Bulletin, Napier, The Chocolate Block and more!
Address: Persiaran Zaaba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
8. The Vault
Feeling like you need a little ‘refined debauchery’, head on to The Vault, in which the first rule is to leave your slippers behind. In true retro style, this speakeasy is one to dress up for just to get through the door. Their menu also offers classic booze and also those epic unique cocktails speakeasies are known for. And of course, being refined, their atmosphere is very much relaxed with soft music playing in the background.
Address: 5, Jalan Sri Hartamas 7, Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
9. Mr Brooks
Mr Brooks is another one of the BIG Group’s endeavours and is located in Bangsar Shopping Centre. Mr Brook’s interior is definitely inspired by a gentlemen’s club where cocktails and gin are mixed with cigars and snacks. If you’re currently in BSC and wondering where the hell is this place, it’s actually behind Ben’s on the third floor, look for the Sunbeam Alpine car, and all you have to do is push the tool panel. Voila!
Address: Bangsar Village Shopping Centre, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
10. Nomi Tomo
‘Nomi Tomo’ actually translates into ‘Drinking Buddies’ and this bar is hidden without a signboard on the third floor of a Plaza Damansara shop-lot. It serves purely sake and skewers and is founded by brothers Kelvin and Kai Zhou. As you can see from its name and choice of booze, the bar is Japanese themed and serves liquor such as sake, shochu, biru and the Yamazaki whiskey!
Address: 2-2, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia