Malaysia’s cocktails are just as unique as its food, if these hits from KL’s bars are anything to go by. You’ve never seen Malaysian cocktails like this, where alcohol and traditional ingredients come together in thoughtful and innovative interpretations of local delicacies. From kuih-inspired cocktails to alcoholic riffs on established drinks, here are some of our favourites and where to get them.
1. “The Heart of Tiffin” – Bonfire Restaurant & Bar
Aged Cana Brava rum meets soursop juice, sea coconut water, and butterfly pea flower tea in Bonfire’s cocktail interpretation of kuih seri muka. A silky foam of coconut milk and home-made pandan syrup adds creaminess to the drink, while Monin macaroon syrup grounds it in a deeply soothing sweetness. Bonfire’s resident bartender Demi (the brilliant mind behind the now-famous Assam Laksa cocktail) wanted to create a cocktail that captured feeling of comfort unpacking a tiffin lunch, hence The Heart of Tiffin. Comfort in a kuih-flavoured cocktail? Yes please.
Bonfire Restaurant & Bar
G32, The Starling Mall, Jalan SS 21/37, Damansara Utama,
47400 Petaling Jaya
Sun – Thurs: 10.30 am – 12 am
Fri – Sat: 10.30 am – 1 am
2. “Whiskey & Bubble Tea” – Coley
You won’t find this bubble tea at your local shopping mall, that’s for sure! Coley’s decadently alcoholic rendition of bubble tea is a perfect blend of Irish whiskey, creme de cacao, palm sugar, and black tea – complete with chewy tapioca pearls! Be sure to check out the rest of Coley’s Koktel menu, an impressive collection of drinks that includes the Gin & Coconut (gin and fresh coconut water), and Whiskey & Barley (whiskey and home-brewed barley water.
8, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar,
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Mon – Sat: 5 pm – 1 am
Sun: 3 pm – 9 pm
3. “Liang Moi” – The Pawn Room
Rum, tropical fruit juice, pandan cream and sweet pandan syrup mingle under a fluffy head of egg white foam to create a drink that tastes remarkably like kuih talam – only in a liquid and far more alcoholic form. Like all great cocktails, the Liang Moi comes with an origin story of its own — rumour has it the cocktail is named after a mysterious patron who requested a custom cocktail of rum and tropical fruits. Liang Moi, if you were wondering, is Hakka for “pretty girl”.
The Pawn Room
46B, Persiaran Zaaba,
60000 Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Mon – Thurs: 5 pm – 1 am
Fri-Sat: 5 pm – 2 am
4. “Jungle Bird” – PS150
The very first Jungle Bird cocktail was served at the Aviary Bar of the KL Hilton back in the 1970’s. Bartender Angel Ng of PS150 pays homage to this globally-loved drink’s local roots by enhancing it with familiar South East Asian flavours. Pandan- and spice-infused rum replaces the blackstrap rum in the original, while the combination of nutty Josephine pineapples, acidic limes, and rich caramelised gula melaka makes for a truly Malaysian flavour profile.
Bonus: Watch Angel create a chicken rice-inspired cocktail!
150 Jalan Petaling, Ground Floor
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mon – Sat: 6 pm – 2 am
Sun: 4 pm – 11 pm
5. “Catchy Shin Mui” – The Locker & Loft
This isn’t your grandparents’ Kat Chai Shin Mui! This hawker stall favourite of lime juice and preserved plums gets spiked with a generous amount of gin and melon liqueur for an alcoholic twist at The Locker & Loft, home to other delightfully Malaysian cocktails such as the Milo-based Brown-Brown and rice-based Tuak. The Catchy Shin Mui is everything you expect: sweet, sour, refreshing, and very, very strong.
The Locker & Loft
40A, Jalan SS 20/10, Damansara Kim
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Mon – Sat: 5 pm – 1 am
Sun: 12.30 pm – 12.30 am