Kuala Lumpur nightlife: A guide to the city’s best bars



This Chinatown cocktail bar sits in a colonial shophouse that was once a brothel.
It’s all very “In the Mood for Love” with a tinge of “Mad Men” — swanky, illicit and whimsical all at once.
A vintage toyshop facade obscures the entrance.
Walk down a corridor lined with lovers’ booths and an earthy courtyard outfitted in wood and leather before entering PS150’s beating heart: the neon-lit bar.
The sign reads “Chee Cheong Kai,” the Cantonese name for Petaling Street, referring to the tapioca mills that once occupied the area.
PS150 co-founder Angel Ng spent some soul-searching months living in Chinatown in her mid-20s, so it’s a place close to her heart.
The cocktail menu is cheekily inscribed in composition books customarily used by Malaysian school kids.
Try the vodka-based Salty Chinaman, the Lychee No. 3 Martini or the Assamboi (preserved plum) Margarita.
On weekends, entry is restricted when it gets crowded, so make reservations.

Omakase + Appreciate

O+A recently celebrated its fourth year in operation. The only bar from Malaysia on Drinks International’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars of 2016, it’s in the basement of an office building behind a door stamped with a “No Admittance” sign that looks like it might lead to the utility room.

It fits just 20-25 people comfortably, but there’s no limit on entry and no dress code.
The bartenders each have their own cocktail menu to encourage a loyal following.
The menu changes every few weeks, but the Jungle Bird remains.

A concoction of rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice and sugar syrup, it was originally created in Malaysia in the mid-1970s at the old Hilton’s Aviary Bar.

“Everyone knows Singapore Sling. Now we want to promote the Jungle Bird,” O+A co-founder Shawn Chong says.
The bar is closed on Sundays and Mondays.


At first, you might be tempted to call this a tiki bar, but there’s nothing tiki-tacky about it.
There are no drinks with pink umbrellas, no hula girls, no one taking liberties with a ukelele.
There are bamboo and rattan furnishings, wallpapers of green palms, and bartenders sporting Hawaiian shirts — but all tasteful and understated, balanced by sleek lines and contemporary elements.
Joshua Ivanovic, an English transplant who’s lived in Malaysia for years, co-founded JungleBird and describes it as “a tropical house of rum inspired by Old Malaya”.
But there is one standout drink not made with rum, and it’s called Closed on Mondays.
It’s made of tequila, coconut milk, salted egg yolk, red chili and curry leaf syrup, and is inspired by the salted-egg squid — legendary among both locals and tourists — at Jalan Alor’s Wong Ah Wah restaurant.
On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, DJs play live sets of funk, soul, rockabilly, Motown, disco, or hip hop.


Nestled in the back of DR.Inc cafe in Bangsar, this sliver of a cocktail bar is a neighborhood gem.
It also seems to be a bartenders’ favorite.
CK Kho, Coley’s unassuming founder, is a stalwart of the local bar scene with more than 15 years of experience.
He named the bar after Ada Coleman, the legendary creator of the Hanky Panky cocktail who made her name at the London Savoy’s American Bar in the early 20th century.
Coley has a retro-modern vibe and sits somewhere between a bar and a cafe — airy but intimate, buzzy but laid-back.
There’s no pretense or fantasy here.
“I wanted to set up a bar where people could feel free to hang out at anytime,” CK says.
Try the Saffron Sour, Kopi Old Fashioned, gin with coconut water, or whiskey with bubble tea.
Coley is closed on Sundays.