Original Image: The Vault KL
If rowdy clubs and loud music aren't your thing, Kuala Lumpur’s wonderful nightlife has on offer a new form that will be just up your alley – speakeasy bars. Speakeasies are burgeoning all around the city and these bars are chilled, secluded and intimate. Speakeasy bars are establishments that are meant to be secret watering holes. Not meant to be spoken about or easily found, these hidden bars are stumbled upon by those looking for something a little more élite or underground. Although the Prohibition era ended in 1933, nostalgia for these hidden establishments lives on and these prohibition bars have popped up behind bookshelves, walls and alleyways. Though the era did not survive, the charm of these private bars certainly never died.
Consider this your beginner’s guide to our favourite speakeasy bars in KL – in some way hidden or a secretly dim-lit locale.
The name itself sounds posh, and although angled as a gentleman’s club, it is frequented by both genders. Urban, cool and intriguingly hidden, this drinking hub features cool antique décor with mirrored walls as well as cosy corners. The bar takes you back to London circa 1960s – high-spirited partying, bold fashion and indulgent luxury. You can also enjoy a game of pool or sit and watch the expert mixologist do his thing as he creates peculiar and beautiful-looking cocktails. Tip: Look out for a purple Alpine Sunbeam parked inside a garage for entry into this secluded gem.
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Address: Level 3, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof Bukit Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur
Generally, we would dodge dark back alleys of Kuala Lumpur, especially if it’s at night but this bar is nestled away in the delight of Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Pudu. This speakeasy is set in an old bungalow featuring an old-meets-new design, which is somewhat difficult to find because there aren’t any signs or pointers showing patrons where Barlai is precisely. So look out for a homely porch with a half hidden sign on the inside for your guide to a great spot with remarkable cocktails. Recommendations include the Milo Kaw with a dash of whisky, Siam Mojito using calamansi and their most famed drink Bar Lai Pina Colada.
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Address: 3, Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Bukit Bintang, 50150 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Located in Avenue K, this bar is a place for a lone downtime and for laidback business meetings. Hidden behind a phone booth, this is the perfect hideout for cigar enthusiasts and whisky drinkers. This speakeasy offers some of the best whisky choices including the unquestionably delicious and legendary Japanese whisky, Nikka. Similar to the branch at Medan Damansara, there are rooms to enjoy more privacy. Cigars and whisky go very well together and it’s curious that no other place in KL took these two elements and paired them together.
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Address: Level 3, Avenue K
Hyde at 53M
Owned by the people behind The Good Batch, Hyde at 53M is a ray of sunshine in Uptown, a neighbourhood not generally known for its cocktails or bars. You enter a room through a side entrance and find yourself in a space of black leather Chesterfield-style sofas and smooth jazz playing in the foreground. The bar is well stocked with drinks from Japanese single malt to absinthe and boasts some exceptional cocktails. Whatever evening you are looking for, you will all enjoy yourselves. Cocktails are stylishly presented and their craft beer list is quite impressive.
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Address: 53, Jalan SS 21/1A, Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya
Crack open The Vault and avoid the hustle and bustle of the city at this recently opened speakeasy bar with a menu of over 18 specially crafted cocktails. You can lounge around on their luxurious leather couches or have a groove with the DJs from Thursdays to Saturdays, playing fun feel-good house tunes. The mystery and mini-adventure to track down this bar is part of the fun, and it’s worth the challenge as this place is the perfect balance of upscale glamour and downtown cool. Fun fact: Local celebrity Patricia K and her business partner Darren Yoon are the brains behind this operation and you might even say that star power might have a play here but The Vault KL aims to make service of utmost importance and they definitely paid attention to the details with vintage fixtures.
Image: The Vault KL
Address: 5, Jalan Sri Hartamas 7, Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur