KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – While bustling Petaling Street still exudes a sanitised version of its old charm, meandering through the back streets will give you a whole other tale about the seedy underbelly of one of KL’s oldest townships. And it’s here that we find PS150 (quite literally the address of the joint), a cocktail bar hidden in plain sight.
Let’s get this out of the way: PS150 is not a speakeasy. Between the signboard (albeit somewhat nondescript) at the entrance and the open courtyard where the Tiki bar is found, it’s more of a hidden gem, than a speakeasy. As a testament to the history and mystery that surrounds Petaling Street, it’s a stop you don’t want to miss on your tour of the surroundings because a trip down this particular rabbit hole will give you a definitive feel of what KL’s Chinatown used to be.
This isn’t an easy find, mind you, which is what has prompted its misnomer as a speakeasy. With a facade that’s more sundry corner store than chic cocktail bar, the charm of it all will draw you in.
From the toys to the Nestum tin that sways in the background, you’ll be transported back to your childhood. This was a concerted effort to have guests leave their inhibitions at the door; after all, with how strong the drinks here are, it won’t be long before you do.
On weekends, the place is packed and you may have to wait for someone to come get you. There is a receiving foyer which sets the tone for your visit: A fascinatingly eclectic display that’s intriguing yet somewhat disconcerting.
The bar itself draws you into its fold in stages. There are three separate areas to cater to its diverse patronage. It seems natural that you would first step into an area that channels an opium den. The mood lighting sets the tone as you settle yourself behind a beaded curtain to luxuriate in your intoxication. Flanked by black and white photographs, you will feel like you’ve ventured back in time.
Through the next door, you will find the post-war arena. Also known as the Tiki bar, that’s nestled within an open courtyard. Hinting at an era where the central theme was rebuilding, it’s the most well-lit area of the three (for the inevitable need for pictures).
Through the door, the main bar area greets you.
In ushering in the contemporary area, you will find a modern bar surrounded by antiques, and other unique vintage touches.
It is extremely dark in here, and should you be seated, you’ll be perusing your menu by candlelight. The menus themselves have an element of nostalgia to them, having been printed in school notebooks.
While the ambiance is truly worth the visit in itself, The Binge came for the drinks. Being a cocktail bar, you will be remiss if you skip over them to the wines or absinthe pages.
Far from the norm of sugary and weak concoctions that look pretty, what you’ll find at PS150 will revolutionise the way you view your cocktails as a whole.
The simplicity which they pride themselves on should not be mistaken for being simplistic.
The cocktails are potent and artfully balanced. Each drink comes with its own tale, having been created or modified as a joint effort by all involved in their alchemy.
Lychee No. 3 (USD8.93/RM40), is a Disco era cocktail and a gorgeous take on your traditional lychee martini. The addition of ginger flower and a generous dousing of London Dry Gin makes this one of the best out there.
The questionably named Salty Chinaman (USD8.93/RM40) is co-founder Angel Ng‘s take on a refreshment made of Sprite and preserved lemon peel that’s found on the streets of China. Inspired by how the simplicity of just two ingredients could make such a refreshing beverage, she created a balanced, healthier vodka-based cocktail out of it. For those of you watching your calories, this is what you would want to order off the menu.
PS150 runs as a team and it’s no clearer than in this original cocktail. Bijoy 71 (USD8.93/RM40) is a cocktail infused with coriander and sugarcane. Its name comes from the Bangladeshi word for ‘victory’ and was created by the bar’s foreign staff. If you’re after a completely new flavour profile, this original bitters and history-laden creation is one you should try.
There’s no cure like Irish whiskey for any malady, and that stands for Penicillin: The ASEAN Edition (USD8.93/RM40). As an Asian take on the classic-contemporary cocktail, the bar has added ginger rice wine and calamansi juice in this concoction.
While the exposed brick walls and kitschy exterior have the potential to come off as purely hipster, that vibe is distinctly missing at PS150.
The original walls of the abandoned brothel it is situated in still stand, and were maintained to keep it as true to its roots as possible. As you sit in the darkened bar, you will be transported back to a time where the walls claimed their tales.
- The potent and original cocktails
- An extensive absinthe menu
- The truly fantastic decor
- Conversation over drinks as the music is at a decent decibel and does no preclude socialising
- The weekend crowd (especially if you don’t have a reservation)
Tel: 03-2022 2888
Monday to Sunday 6:00 pm – 2:00 am