Spirited Traveller: Hunting cocktails in Kuala Lumpur

Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:10pm EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital and business hub, expect to get deals done in the boardroom, not the barroom. But after hours, KL (as everyone abbreviates the city) has a wide array of nightlife options for celebrating those deals.

Drawing on the Malay, Chinese and Indian heritages of its denizens, KL is known for its exciting mix of cuisines. But alas, there is no signature cocktail here, and many of the Muslims living in KL don't indulge in alcohol. Instead, the national drink is teh tarik, or "pulled tea" - a condensed-milk drink that is "stretched" through two cups to get a frothy texture.

That said, visitors may want to keep an eye out for drinks spiked with local flavors such as rose water or even durian, the famously stinky exotic fruit.

For a lead on where to drink, I asked Halim Shamsudin, a KL-based ex-bartender who now runs bar products and events company Bar Pro Asia.

Among other things, he organizes numerous bartender competitions and "flair" challenges - that niche bartending segment that involves flashy moves like tossing bottles in the air. Flash seems to have a place in many KL venues, especially around the popular Changkat Bukit Bintang area, which is lined with bars and restaurants.

"The No 1 club in Kuala Lumpur is Beach Club Café (www.beachclubcafe.com/), " Shamsudin says. Located in the Golden Triangle area of the city, packed with smart nightspots (many inside swish hotels), Beach Club has an island beach theme and live music.

For business travelers seeking a more civilized retreat at the end of the workday, other options include the sleek and stylish 7 Ate Nine (here), inside the Ascott Hotel. Look for lots of riffs on mojitos and daiquiris.

Two more chic hotel bars are all about the view: SkyBar (here   Continued...

<p>A view of the skyline of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad</p>