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3 New speakeasy bars to check out in the Klang Valley in 2022

3 New speakeasy bars to check out in the Klang Valley in 2022

Hidden haunts

Text: Natalie Khoo

Where to go next for a boozy night out: a book club cum speakeasy in TTDI, an oriental bar nestled within a historical building in Chinatown, and an Art Deco-inspired bar in PJ

With KL’s nightlife gradually returning to some semblance of what it was pre-pandemic, the local bar scene has been picking up steam amongst social drinkers and party-goers alike once again. Aside from cocktail bars and exclusive alcohol brand collaborations, there have been a few new speakeasy bars that popped up behind hidden doors and not-so-secret locations around town in recent months.

If you’re looking for a new haunt to visit with your drinking pals, check out these three new speakeasy bars in the Klang Valley. (Warning: spoilers on how to get into these bars lie ahead.)

The First Chapter

The First Chapter began its story in TTDI late last year, doubling as a speakeasy bar and book club of sorts. Drawing inspiration from the prohibition era, the dimly-lit, vintage-inspired speakeasy is tucked behind a bookcase filled with roughly 1,300 titles. But before that, you’ll have to enter a secret code (given upon reservation) to get pass the big black door and a flight of stairs leading up to the first floor. The books are not for sale, but customers are welcome to borrow and return them on their next visit, or replace one with another if they wish to keep it.

Its name not only ties in with the concept, but also marks the first business venture between its two owners (or authors, if you like)—Ben Nair and Shawn Luke. The duo are old friends from their university days in 2014 and have also previously dabbled in the F&B industry. Ben had a brief stint in Omakase + Appreciate, whereas Shawn once served as a waiter at Coley and later the Operations Manager of Circa.

As for the menu, expect a range of spirits and cocktails inspired by pop-culture references and bar classics such as Ben’s Margarita (his personal take on the drink) and The Mandarine (a whisky-based concoction with a citrusy punch). There’s also an assortment of small bites and bar snacks, including Fried Button Mushrooms with Garlic Sauce, Gula Melaka Chicken Cutlets, and a Trio of Beef Sliders.

Address: 139a, Jalan Aminuddin Baki, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Contact: +6011 23192556

Opening hours: 5pm to 12pm daily

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Upstairs Bar at The Crane KL

Nestled in the historical Selangor Grocers Guild in Chinatown, The Crane KL (first featured on our February 2022 #BUROEats list) is a restaurant offering East-meets-West dishes in a vibrant, neo-classical setting. While you may also find boozy options on the restaurant’s drinks menu, fans of crafted cocktails will want to look for the hidden bar upstairs, which only opens from 4pm.

To get there, you’ll have to look for the mantelpiece with European columns and Chinese characters that mean “The Great Hall”. Next to it, there’s a door that will lead you to the Grocer’s Inn. Walk up the stairs that’s illuminated by a dazzling vintage chandelier until you spot a mysterious, bright red door—a stark contrast to the teal green accents downstairs. Inside, the atmosphere is distinctively oriental, with striking red lanterns and majestic crane-adorned wall panels. There are VIP tables partially concealed by sheer red curtains, opulent seats and armchairs, as well as a more laid-back balcony area that overlooks the bustling Jalan Sultan.

The craft cocktail section lists ten concoctions that sound almost like kung fu moves, but you’ll find out what they really mean upon scanning a QR code that comes with an age warning (read: explicit content). Examples include The Dragon Turns, Turtle Stirs, and Phoenix Hovers, in case you’re curious. Besides that, the bar also offers customisable gin and tonic, on top of a respectable range of whiskies, rums, tequila, bar bites, and other spirits.

Address: 78, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur

Contact: +6012 209 7057

Opening hours: 4pm to 12am (Upstairs Bar), Tuesdays to Sundays

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Sip Society

Located in the heart of Aman Suria Tropicana, Sip Society is PJ’s latest speakeasy for cocktail, wine, and whisky enthusiasts. Hidden behind a stone wall entrance on the first floor, this contemporary bar features Art-Deco inspired interiors with green, red and, gold accents, as well as unusual choice of furniture (such as a piano that’s repurposed as a wine shelf).

The crafted cocktail selection is as sophisticated as the bar’s setting, with Insta-worthy picks such as Umeshu Martini, Armageddon's Fizz, and The Apocalypse. For those who decide to bring their appetites with them, there’s a decent variety of finger foods and mains to satisfy both Asian and Western preferences. Among the more popular orders include Beer, Beer, Beer, Battered Tiger Prawns and Blackened Salmon. There's also a live band performance daily to complement your classy night out with good music.  

Address: No. B-1-18, Jalan PJU 1/43, Aman Suria, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Contact: +6011 3989 6028

Opening hours: 4pm to 4am daily

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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