The Booze Blog - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

2 July 2015

Insta Weekly: 44 Bar The Row - DIY Cocktails: GnT, Manhattan & Jungle Bird - Janice of O+A - Labuan & Kota Kinabalu.

Oops. Last week's insta weekly report's late because I spent the last weekend travelling across Labuan and Kota Kinabalu, which I'll tell you about once you get past my other equally-exciting boozy adventures of the week, hehe.


1. 44 Bar's Found a New Temporary Home @ The Row, Kuala Lumpur

Left: Juicy fruity Tango Mango. Middle: Kick-ass Bottle Aged Cocktails. Right: Potential crowd favourite: Donkey Kick

The 44 Bar that we know and love (previously ex-APW) has popped up at The Row along Jalan Doraisamy. The Row may sound unfamiliar to you - but how about its former name - Asian Heritage Row? That's right, The Row IS a souped up ex-Asian Heritage Row filled with new third wave cafes, quaint eateries and other instagram-genic shops that hipsters would love.

This time, 44 may be slightly harder to find (that's the fun part I suppose, albeit a little scary for the ladies especially at night), but just follow the familiar signage and you can't miss it. Take heed - the look and feel of the current place is very different from the previous location. It feels...  permanent with so much more cement, but take my word for it that it won't be. 

It'll offer the usual American craft spirits by Liberty Spirits Asia UNavailable anywhere else in Malaysia, but with a different cocktail menu (at a slightly higher price starting from RM40 and above). If you've been to their APW location, you may have noticed and played around at their Gintoxicated corner where you could customise your own GnT by mixing & matching available botanicals and spices. However, in this current location, Gintoxicated is no more, replaced by Bottle Aged Cocktails.

What these are, are basically classic cocktails made in batches, and then "aged" in a bottle for a couple of weeks for an added oomph to its character. Because they need to be made with ingredients that'll last through the aging process, expect only strong, heavy-spirited cocktails in these. None of that sweet, fruity, fluffy, creamy stuff. There are 8 cocktails to choose from and each one may help you grow that curly moustache you've always wanted overnight (I exaggerate).

More: https://www.facebook.com/44Bar


2. DIY Cocktails of the Week - Gin & Tonic, Bourbon Manhattan, Spiced Rum Jungle Bird

Left: Grapefruit GnT. Middle: Bourbon Manhattan. Right: Jungle Bird - A Malaysian cocktail.

Realised I haven't played around with mixing cocktails at home - so it was time to catch up on that.

I pimped up a Gordon's Gin & Tonic with fresh grapefruit slices, in place of lime. First learnt how grapefruit went so well with GnT at Inch in Penang.  Next time you run out of limes, try this one instead - slice up half a grapefruit, squeeze some of its juices out into the gin and tonic before dumping them into your drink,  then quench your thirst,  smile and eat your grapefruit along the way. It's a "healthy" cocktail with loads of Vitamin C!

Making the Manhattan (used Woodford Reserve in this one) is really a test of a true bartender. In fact, any cocktail that requires you to stir strong spirits with ice is really a test (like the martini, sazarec) and I really really suck at those. I especially suck at anything that contains vermouth. I suspect it's because I don't have the right ice, and my vermouth is never in tip top condition. Vermouth is one heck of a fragile and a painful bottle to keep. Once opened, like wine, you cannot keep it for too long. It actually oxidizes and spoils, just like wine would, tasting a little like vinegar. I'm sure I've ranted about my vermouth problem before. Sigh. If you have any tips on how to master making such cocktails or especially where to get hold of tiny measures of vermouth please let me know. So far, I can only find 1 litre bottles which, while not expensive, is a huge waste because how many vermouth drinks can you make in a couple of weeks before you puke?

You know how in almost every bloody bar you visit in Singapore, there's the Singapore Sling? Well, my wish is for every cocktail bar in Malaysia worth its salt to feature the Jungle Bird (I used Sailor Jerry in place of dark rum for my homemade rendition) in its menu, because  it's a MALAYSIAN cocktail darn it! There's really no excuse to not have this in any local bar because it's so easy to make with very easily attainable ingredients: campari, pineapple juice, dark rum, lime juice and sugar syrup. I mean if I can whip it up, anyone can! On top of that, it could also be a yummier drink than the Singapore Sling (sorry, I haven't tasted one that I liked)! Try it!


3. Visited Janice @ Omakase + Appreciate 



Call me bias for going back there so often but I can't help it if this bar is actually a stone's throw away from my office!

Well, I'm sure everyone's read everywhere about how awesome Karl and Shawn are.  So here's a different story. Say hello to Janice Lau, who,  I'm willing to bet my money on, will be a rising star of the local bartending scene. There are not enough female bartenders  in Malaysia yet so I'm totally rooting for her, among a few others which I will get to soon enough. But don't take my word for it - go try her drinks yourself. Her cocktail menu (classics and her own creation) will be featured every Tuesday and Wednesday, which changes every month. You can also ask her to omakase (leave it to you) cocktails for you if you let her know what your preferences are.

Check out her menu in advance on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OmakaseAppreciate


4. My Labuan - Kota Kinabalu Adventure


Left to right, top to bottom: Free-flow beer at Plaza Premium Lounge. Drinking at Sapi Island. Thank goodness for Kalamatas bar. That Boddington's was only RM4.50 and even more drinking in some random Labuan chinese kopitiam. 

Spent the night at Plaza Premium Lounge KLIA 2 again prior to our early morning flight to Labuan. Still loving how convenient and comfortable it is and especially the novelty of cold beer being served in cold glasses in the lounge. Almost like a home away from home, except you don't really need to clean up after yourself. :P I would stay here again in a heart beat.

On Labuan:
This would be my first trip to Labuan (Own note: Yeay! June's activity checked!) - known for being a duty free haven. Being there, I felt like a fat kid in an all-you-can-eat buffet. There were so many uncommon stuff sitting in cabinet corners collecting dust and at very affordable prices too. I couldn't find mind blowing reviews of restaurants or places of interest in other parts of the island so we literally spent all day in the city centre just walking into every liquour shop we came across. I will come back for your duty free shopping and drinking again Labuan, you have my word.

On KK, Sabah:
People always tell me to go for the cheap beers and seafood in Kota Kinabalu - but so far, I haven't found it to be true. Drinking is really not that cheap (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia have much cheaper local beer) and seafood while fresh, isn't that cheap either (not too hard to find a place where you just need to pay a bit more for ginormous prawns and crabs in the Klang Valley). But people have vouch that Sabah, in general, feels safer, her people are friendly and warmer. This, I can't deny yet. The islands (visited Sapi and Manukan) with its clear blue water were quite a treat too. You CAN get beers at the islands, but at a hefty RM15 per can. So try and source your beers from the local chinese kopitiams (you still can get it around RM10-13 from 3 cans - not too expensive) before going to the island.

A quick shout out to 2 bars I visited in KK and liked:

1) Kalamatas Resto'ba - I'm pretty sure this is a neighbourhood bar (think Cheers, but localised). Serves a full food menu (local, Western, Filipino), draught (GAB) & bottled beers with happy hour prices (1 pint of Guinness was RM19.90 and bonus - they DO know how to execute the 2-part pour properly!), bottled spirits and cocktails. Check out reviews: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kalamatas-Restoba-Api-Api

2) Loft - I don't really like hanging out at the Waterfront bars (think of it as Sabah's version of KL's Changkat Bukit Bintang) generally because it's expensive and very touristy. But Loft isn't too bad and seems like another place the locals like to hang. It's casual, unpretentious, not sleazy or dingy AND we had a bucket of 4 Heinekens for RM43. Find it: https://www.facebook.com/theloftkk

Until next week, drink safe!

Insta Weekly is a weekly summary of boozy updates from my Instagram.com/fireangel80 with the hashtag #angeltini. Feel free to follow me if you enjoy daily updates on booze, food and other random stuff by a girl from Malaysia. Cheers!

24 June 2015

Kampachi Sake Dinner Series feat. Izumibashi Sake

The 4 beautiful Izumibashi bottles in a row
Kampachi  celebrated Izumibashi brewery's first visit to Malaysia with a dinner series that took place in Troika last 16 June &  in their outlet at Equatorial Penang on 17 June.

The 9-course Japanese kaiseki menu, created by Kampachi's Executive Chef, Koji Tamaru, featured seasonal seafood sourced directly from Japan. The meal was to be paired with 4 Izumibashi sakes.

We were also graced by the presence of 6th generation brewery founder/owner, Yuichi Hashiba & sake sommelier, Shigeyuki Masaki, who imparted some nuggets of knowledge about the brand and sake. Who knew that there was such a thing as a sommelier for sake? And how do I apply? :)

22 June 2015

Insta Weekly: World Gin Day, Kampachi dinner feat. Izumibashi Sake, P&C Bar, French Martini, Whiskey Sour

I'd like to share with you something interesting that happened to me last week.

I was at a bar for a quiet drink and bumped into some friends who knew that I enjoyed mixing drinks at home. Everyone was having fun and had quite a bit to drink... eventually I was asked to make a drink at the bar. Much to my reluctance, I did agree, but only after the bartender agreed to it as well.

Thinking back, I wondered how I could have handle that situation better. So many things could have gone wrong (since it wasn't a bar I was familiar with, and I'm actually not a bartender), but thankfully it didn't! Anyway, this experience made me realise a few things:

1. I really do enjoy working behind an actual bar - it's still such a thrill. How do I do something about that which is more feasible for my bank account? :P
2. I need to improve my mixing skills and confidence.
3. I need to learn up a wider repertoire of cocktail recipes.
4. I need to find a secret hide-away bar to drink in. :P
5. Don't get tipsy in a bar, just in case I ever get another opportunity like this again - since my "reputation" is at stake here haha!

That being said. Thank you all for the opportunity. You all know who you are! :)

So what else happened last week?

20 June 2015

Glenfiddich's Valley Of The Deer Post-Event Report

(warning: picture heavy post)

Short of uprooting it from Dufftown, Glenfiddich replicated its distillery in Carcosa Seri Negara for 4 days from 27- 30 May 2015 to share the experience of an average working day there.  If you've never been to an actual distillery, this tour was a good representation. Also, it's probably THE biggest event of its kind in South East Asia!

Everyone was there. The who's who, the who who wants to be who, the has-beens, the wannabes, and of course people who were genuinely interested to see what a distillery could look like, because they actually took the trouble to purchase tickets.

Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur, turned into a make-shift distillery and bar for 4 days.

15 June 2015

Insta Weekly: Diageo Worldclass Malaysia Finals, Tuak from Sarawak, Taps Beer Bar, Vom Fass Whisk(e)y Tasting, Glenlivet 50 Finale, Kitshcy French Wine.

Last week was filled with celebrations!

- celebrated 4 very talented bartenders who were chosen to represent Malaysia in one of the biggest bartending competitions in the planet.

- celebrated the winning bidders who bade a record-breaking RM96k for a bottle of rare 50 year old...whisky (hehe).

- celebrated a pair of good friends' baby's 1 year old birthday, where family and close friends got together to over-indulge in an awesome home-cooked BBQ meal... with some awesome drams of course.

- and celebrated the relocation of this wonderful, wonderful bread shop with some delicious wines.

What I'm trying to say is, there's always a cause for celebration. And those causes are usually the greatest reasons for a good drink... or two.... ;)

1. Diageo Reserve World Class Finals @ The Bee, Publika. 


8 June 2015

Insta Weekly: Martin Miller's Gin, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Whisky Fling @ S&A, Revisiting WIP, Ippudo's new Geikkeikan Sake, Negroni Week @ Hyde, Nikka Taketsuru 12

Man, after last week, I thought I would go easy on the drinking and whiskies but apparently, I'm made of tougher (and more idiotic lol) stuff. This week's summary is a little late because I just came back from spending the weekend in Melaka for a friend's wedding which was also a great excuse to stuff my face with food along the way (sorry about all that food spam on my insta today lol).

I love Chinese banquet weddings. Bonus if the first four (out of 8, usually) dishes tastes really good (usually the appetiser, soup, white meat & fish) because I'm usually too stuffed to have anymore (after that it's commonly the prawns, vegetables, rice and dessert). Even bigger bonus if there's loads of booze about - this one had a whole lot of beer, wine and whiskies. Back in the day (I'd say about 10-15 years) ago - chinese banquet dinners predominantly featured brandy and at the most, blended scotch. These days? Single malt and Japanese whiskies are all the rage. Attending a chinese wedding dinner is really a good gauge of what the current beverage trend is. :)



Had this at O&A last week. Hmm, seems like I'm really into my gins now. :D This one tastes like it's in between your london dry & botanicals. Stuff like this reminds me why I love the beverage industry so much. You think you've tried a lot and then something new comes along to surprise you. I wish I could easily get one of these but unfortunately, it's not easy to get, and also in the premium category like your Botanist (which is already RM2XX duty free, by the way). I think I will invest in more gins, while the whole region is still mad with their whisky. Rums too. Once, the whisky craze dies down, it's likely we'll take to rum or gin. Let's see. :)

4 June 2015

Launch: Inch (and Plates) @ Jalan Muntri, Penang

So, I mentioned in passing on my Insta Weekly update that I was invited for the official launch of Inch (and Plates) over a couple of months ago to check out their new place. Let me give you a quick tour of the place before we dive into my favourite topic - their beverage menu.

Located at one of the popular tourist / backpacker areas, 44 Muntri Street in Penang; Inch and Plates (which are sibling restaurants conjoined by the bar), are the newest ventures by one of the owners from The Bee, Adrian Yap.


As you can see from the entrance, it's a pre-war shop lot and is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can't miss its striking red door against its pretty sky blue painted walls. They took the effort to maintain quite a bit of the original structure - especially the wooden bits. I suspect that the tiles at the entrance is also an original peranakan design too (correct me if I'm wrong).

1 June 2015

Insta Weekly: Sommelier Championship 2015 & French Wines Trade Show, Nikka Event, Glenfiddich's #ValleyOfTheDeer, Omakase + Appreciate, Ardbeg Day

I made another resolution this year - to do something different every month. Better if it's something I've never done before. It could be something as simple as watching a musical, or it could be something as big as picking up a new skill. I figured if I didn't force myself to commit to it,  every day would just be like any other day, and I'd be living my life on autopilot. What a wasted life that would be, innit? I figured, since we're only given one life, I must make the best of it, the best that I can.

What have I done so far? In January, I completed my first ever 6km (more like 7.6 actually) cross country (which goes off-road!) run. I kinda copped out in February by merely going on a jungle hike at a nearby park. But March & April was quite a good one as it was my first trip to Siam Reap AND I participated in a 17km cycling tour there. What did I do for the month of May? Well, it's booze -related so you'll need to read on to find out. :)

1. 24H French Wines Trade Show & Malaysia Best Sommelier Championship 2015


27 May 2015

Plaza Premium Lounge (PPL) has everything you need to live in an airport.

(Note: Plaza Premium Lounge kindly allowed a group of us to experience all their amenities mentioned below without charge.)

The terminal, starring Tom Hanks. One of my favouritest movies.
Image credit: artsentertainmentbaba.com/

Do you remember the movie The Terminal starring Tom Hanks? Man, I loved it so much I must've watched it a hundred times. It's a story of this guy who was stuck living in the airport for a while because his country was at war and his passport wasn't recognised. It looked like he was having a good time living in the airport, making friends with everyone who worked in the airport. And he even managed to get part time job in there... albeit he was roughing it out a little. I've always wondered what that felt like, seemed fun!

What a treat it was that we kind of did get that experience...  Except we didn't  have to rough it out in the airport like Tom's character did with Plaza Premium Lounge being around. They fed us, quenched our thirst, and after all that, even gave us a comfortable night's stay at KLIA 2 just before our insane 6am early morning flight to Siam Reap the next day. Since this is (mostly) a booze blog, I'm going to spend a little more time sharing with you about the liquid side of things, and then quickly touching base on the other services and facilities.

26 May 2015

Insta Weekly - Canadian Club Old Fashioned, Cheap Singha Beer, Singha Soda Water, Nikka in the Fridge, Auchentoshan 16 Years, Glenffidich #ValleyOfTheDeer, Whistling Duck Wine

Oh my goodness. I'm still not used to the idea of 2015 yet and June is coming (tiny GoT reference, anyone?). What on earth? Does time go by faster with each year with age? Or is it because of those dratted technological advances that makes us forget to slow down and enjoy the time we have on earth? 

I find myself spending too much being "connected". It is a terrible habit really, how the internet and technology has taken over our lives. At first I thought it was just a younger generation thing but no - the older folks (ie my parents) have now picked up the habit of constantly having their noses buried into their phones. For me, it's gotten so bad that now, I can't sleep if I don't spend at least an hour surfing on the net for pointless mindless entertainment to unwind. Sometimes I wonder if Wall-E wasn't a bit of a prophecy - human kind being too dependent on technology to the point we even forget how to WALK. Scary thought for me.

Which is why, since last year, I've been making resolutions to get disconnected more. I've taken myself out of chat groups, muted a lot of apps, and really trying very hard to be in the NOW. I have to admit, it takes a lot of effort to do this. More often than not, I find myself being drawn to the damn phone. I must make this habit stop. How bad is your tech habit? Do you even have one?

Slightly ironic that I'm talking about my bad tech habit on my blog, haha. Well, on to my favourite habit - talking about booze: