The concept of speakeasy bars goes way back to the prohibition era in the United States, almost a century ago when there was a constitutional ban on alcohol. Since then, alcohol has seen the light of legality over time and lately, the term has been thrown around loosely in reference to bars that evoke a mysterious feel, such as having a hidden entrance. Of late, the popularity of this concept has been soaring as more and more people have been inclining towards this chilled and unique drinking experience rather than hitting the crowded nightclubs. In this issue, Top 10 of Malaysia shares its take on the top 10 speakeasy bars in the country.
Omakase + Appreciate is a unique spot that drew inspiration from Japanese bars, with a blend of oriental and western elements. Its décor can be described as oriental and its style of mixing is more inclined to the western way. ‘Omakase’ is Japanese for “I leave it to you” which is a dining concept whereby the bartenders determine guests’ preference and customize cocktails for them. Their menu is designed to showcase the talent of bartenders as they serve the unique creations of each bartender on duty.
Another speakeasy bar that specializes in exquisitely crafted cocktails would be Hyde. Hiding in a space that is reminiscent of the early sixties along with an infusion of twenty-first-century cool, customers can pick from a variety of artisanal cocktails while relaxing in its leather sofas. If you’re not a cocktail lover, the intimate bar also provides a good selection of spirits, wines and craft beers.
A whisky connoisseur who may opt for a more sophisticated setting would want to make their way down to 61 Monarchy. The quintessential hidden bar oozes class and style, and its wide range of whisky selection (300 bottles) from around the globe is perfect for those with a thirst for whisky and whisky-based cocktails.
Another interesting place would be The Locker & Loft. This reasonably-priced bar with a hidden outlet emphasizes on incorporating fresh local herbs, spices and fruits into their drinks. Some examples include mangosteen liquer and its current best-seller Kelapa Rock, which is a mix of chilled fresh coconut water and vodka.
If you are looking for a slightly more nostalgic feel, there is no better spot than PS150 that is housed in a pre-war shop. Situated in Chinatown in the midst of many historic buildings, this bar has an unassertive entrance. The cocktails served at this atmospheric bar with dark interiors use distinct ingredients and the cocktail list is fascinatingly divided into five distinct eras in history: Vintage, Prohibition, Tiki, Disco and Contemporary.
Others on our list of top speakeasy bars also include Tate Bar in Intermark which has a secret entrance whereby people could easily walk past without knowing they’re walking past an actual bar, the Hollywood-inspired Blue Elephant Bar which displays portraits of Hollywood actors on their walls, set lights, director’s chairs and a golden Oscar statue, and Whisky, Tango and Foxtrot, which gives off a masculine feel to it, looking like a gentlemen’s club.
Still, there is The Vault which has a posh underground theme with leather seats and a dress code of long pants and covered shoes to maintain standards and class, and rustic-looking Barlai located in a refurbished building, serving out-of-the-ordinary Malaysian-infused cocktails such as Milo Kaw whisky and Siam Mojito.