Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur is ever-evolving, starting off with neighbourhood pubs and nightclubs in Changkat Bukit Bintang, followed by the sky-high rooftops in KL city centre. Recently, the trend has shifted to speakeasy bars which basically refer to ‘underground’ drinking establishments that are not always easy to find to find. Originating back in 1920s where selling alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA, the word ‘speakeasy’ is derived from the act of speaking softly as to avoid persecution of the authorities.
Needless to say, speakeasies are often so cleverly camouflaged that only the adventurous can stumble upon them - you won’t find neon-lit signboards or doors gracing the entrance of these bars! Perfect for when you’re in the mood for unique cocktails and single malt whiskeys in a more private and exclusive setting, we’ve listed the five best speakeasy bars in Kuala Lumpur (and how to find them).
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Tate BarThe Intermark
One of the pioneers of secret 1920s prohibition-era bars in Kuala Lumpur is the classy Tate Bar at the Intermark KL, about 15 minutes’ walk from Petronas Twin Towers. Its wall-camouflaged entrance is quite a challenge to find; look for a light fixture that’s shaped like a top hat, give it a push and you'll find yourself in the company of well-dressed patrons and waiters dressed in retro-inspired uniforms. Emulating the style of an expensive speakeasy, cocktails at Tate Bar are priced from RM35 onwards and served in crystal-cut glasses while straight pours such as the Hibiki Whiskey (17 years) costs RM33 per glass and RM580 per bottle. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 17:00 – 03:00
- Address: Ground Floor, The Intermark, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2161 2368
Mr. BrooksBangsar Shopping Centre
Although its entrance is far easier to spot compared to other speakeasies in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Brooks’s witty cocktail offerings and discreet and sophisticated ambience makes it one of the best nightlife spots in the city. It is located on the third floor of Bangsar Shopping Centre, where you’ll find a makeshift garage with a purple Sunbeam Alpine Car parked inside. Look for the tools panels on the wall and push through to reveal the entrance. Interior-wise, the decor is classy with vintage decor, bright lights and mirrors, and an illuminated bicycle installation on the wall. Hailed as a gin and cocktail bar, must-tries at Mr. Brooks include Margarita Thatcher, Mr Brooks’ Fruit ‘N’ Nut and Nan’s Carrot Cake.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 17:00 – 02:00
- Address: Level 3, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof, 59000 Bangsar Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2141 7850
Whisky, Tango and Foxtrot BarAvenue K
Despite the rather cheeky acronym, Whisky Tango Foxtrot Bar has a sophisticated clientele of expats, businessmen, and affluent locals thanks to its extensive array of premium cigars from Cuba, Nicaragua, Dominica, Cameroon, plus imported whiskies, wines, and champagnes. Situated within Avenue K (next to Suria KLCC), the entrance of this speakeasy bar is a narrow London telephone booth that’s located within the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse. Decor-wise, Whisky Tango Foxtrot Bar is furnished with dark-coloured armchairs and tables, ceiling locker racks, and massive drinks cabinet filled with bottles of Japanese whiskies and classic Scottish malts such as Nikka 12 year old pure malt (RM530 a bottle) and Nikka Coffey Grain (RM535 a bottle).
- Opening Hours: Daily 15:00 – 00:00
- Address: L3, Avenue K, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2181 0250
Blue Elephant BarPlaza Damansara
Blue Elephant Bar may be relatively new to KL’s nightlife scene, but it has been gaining a steady clientele of locals and expats who’ve grown weary of overcrowded bars and congested traffic in the city centre. This Hollywood-inspired bar is situated within the Plaza Damansara commercial building, where a trail of posters lining up the walls of a staircase leads to its monochrome shelf-covered entrance. Their namesake cocktail is a sinfully sweet concoction of vodka, Australian Chardonnay, passion fruit syrup, apple juice, grapefruit juice, and blue curacao syrup. For snacks, there’s a popcorn machine that provides peanut butter, curry and caramel popcorn in cinema boxes for just RM4. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 17:00 – 03:00, Friday 15:00 – 03:00, Saturday & Sunday 17:00 – 03:00
- Address: 15M & 17M, Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara
- Tel: +603 2011 7715
Omakase + Appreciate KLBangunan Ming Annexe
Omakase + Appreciate Lounge can accommodate only 20 people at a time, with a setting that’s furnished with a couple of couches and high chairs by the sleek-looking bar while a vintage painting adorns a section of its walls. Located in the lower ground of Bangunan Ming Annexe office building, its entrance is the white mesh door with an imposing ‘no admittance’ sign. Omakase + Appreciate KL offers an extensive list of well-crafted cocktails that changes every fortnight with signature drinks such as Elderflower Martini (tanqueray gin, elderflower, and white wine) and Breakfast Martini (beefeater, marmalade, triple sec, and lemon juice). If you’re feeling adventurous, the bar’s award-winning mixologists can create a drink especially for you.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday 17:00 - 01:00, Saturday 21:00 – 01:00
- Address: Lower Ground, Bangunan Ming Annexe, Jalan Ampang
- Tel: +603 2022 2238