I’m a real sucker when it comes to an amazing view and delicious cocktails. Combine the two and I am one happy girl. And so I’ve finally met my match – meet the Pacific Standard Bar in Kuala Lumpur, a gorgeous cocktail bar located on the 41st level of the Alila Bangsar hotel.
Having lived in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of years now, Kuala Lumpur has really upped its game when it comes to its bar scene. From an array of speakeasy bars like PS150 and P&C Cocktail Bar, to various rooftop establishments, to free-standing bars, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. However, when it comes to finding a bar that boasts great views AND great cocktails – I’d be left scratching my head and daydreaming of Singapore or Bangkok…but not anymore.
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Pacific Standard Bar, at the Alila Bangsar Hotel
I remember when I first moved to Kuala Lumpur, I was curious about what the ‘tall black building’ that’s located across from the Bangsar LRT station would be. It stood out like a sore thumb because it was different.
Fast forward to 2018 and this black building is now known as the sky high 5-star hotel Alila Bangsar. And what lies within the walls of Alila Bangsar is the Pacific Standard Bar, a seductively elegant cocktail bar on the 41st level.
Now if you are quick to think that this bar is going to be your typical hotel bar, think again. It is far from that. It is a destination on its own, even within the beautiful surroundings of the hotel.
Paying homage to the old-school allure of mid-20th century Los Angeles, Pacific Standard celebrates the best of California in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A time when the glamour and romance of vintage Hollywood was on the rise, and rules were made to be broken.
With such a beautiful space, it is no surprise to learn that Pacific Standard (as well as the Alila Bangsar) has been designed by renowned design firm Neri & Hu. You’ll find green marble accents adorning the floor and walls, and leather furnishing making this a beautiful space. But my favorite aspect is the white onyx that adorns the main bar area – it is impressive and lights up beautifully in the evening.
The Experience at Pacific Standard
With great views and a delicious cocktail menu, I have spent my fair share of time at Pacific Standard Bar. Sunset hour, check. After dinner party, check.
With a soundtrack that is reminiscent of 1950’s and 1960’s America, the music is upbeat and modern, create an amazing atmosphere in the evening. And my favorite spot is definitely at the bar, well because that’s where all the action is. And good news – the bar stools are super comfortable.
Once you enter the bar, you’re no longer a stranger.
Behind the bar is Ruben, the Principal Bartender and his team, which are always keen to meet and greet all guests that walk through the door. It’s warm and humbling, and you don’t feel like just a number.
Ruben’s approach at Pacific Standard is simple: cocktails taste best when they’re made personal. So, it’s no surprise that his creative energy and resourceful dedication have seen him engaged internationally as Lead Bartender by prestigious celebrity bars and restaurants including ADRIFT by David Myers and MOZZA by Mario Batali.
And if a Negroni or a Martini is your kind of tipple, then you’re in for a treat because it’s Ruben’s favorite cocktail to make. I remember in one of my conversations with Ruben, he shared with me that when he first started training behind the bar, Negroni was the cocktail he had to first nail before he could move on to learning other cocktails. This meant day in, day out, he just had to practice making a Negroni until he got the balance just right.
5 Delicious Cocktails You Must Try at Pacific Standard in KL
“At last, I found a thrill to press my lips to.” -1961
There are 4 categories that make up the menu, which means there’s a little bit of something for every taste palate. There’s a genuine commitment to quality – no shortcuts. All the cocktails have been curated using quality spirits and fresh house-made ingredients wherever possible.
And hey, if you’re not a fan of cocktails, that’s alright. There’s an extensive selection of wines, craft beers, and spirits to choose from. And if you’re not an alcohol drinker, there are also a curated selection of mocktails. Told you, a little bit of something for everyone.
FAT WHITE RUSSIAN
I am going donuts over the Fat White Russian.
This take on the White Russian cocktail stands out, because of their house-made donut liquor foam. Using cream, Krispy Kreme donuts, and a splash of good quality rum, it can be a painful task to create the house-made donut liquor because it’s very sensitive to prepare. The liquor has to be watched like a hawk to ensure the right texture and temperature, other it can be left as a grainy mess.
I mean whoever said you can’t have dessert before dinner was wrong. The donut liquor is definitely the stand out in this cocktail, and it is dessert-licious!
Why use a normal vodka, when you can use a chili vodka?
This is a spicy rendition of the Moscow Mule, a twist on the classic. The traditional Moscow Mule was actual born circa 1941 in Los Angeles, so it’s quite fitting that it’s found itself a home in the Pacific Standard menu.
The stand out in the Morgan’s Mule is its house-made chilli vodka, which has been infused with a variety of chili and herbs. Add a splash of house-made basil syrup and a good quality ginger beer, and voila this refreshing concoction is addictive.
It’s got a lovely spice kick without burning and is perfect after a day exploring the sights and sounds of Kuala Lumpur.
Ahhhh how Mai Tai takes me back to Hawaii where it was Mai Tai hour every sunset whilst sitting by the beach at Dukes.
The thing with a Mai Tai is that not everyone knows how to make a good Mai Tai. You see, the problem is, most Mai Tais are filled with cheap spirits and boxed juices, making this more of a sugary potion. The Mai Tai at Pacific Standard is different because it uses a house-made coconut rum, which is ohhh-so-delicious on its own. Add in more good quality dark rum and fresh pineapple juice, and you’re off daydreaming about your next beach holiday.
At first, I thought the Sunset Swizzle was just a fun way to name a cocktail, but I later learned that actually ‘swizzle’ is a method of making the drink.
The cocktail is first prepared in its serving glass, which is super tall might I add. Its topped with crushed ice and then the cocktail and ice are churned using the swizzle stick. Swizzle, swizzle, swizzle, and voila!
You’d be fooled to think that this was just another fruity concoction. While it looks great for those Instagram-worthy pictures, this cocktail uses Plantation’s pineapple rum and green chartreus, and it packs a punch.
OLD FRUIT FASHIONED
This one’s a strong sipper and has a good wisp of smokey aromas from the Peaty scotch and rye.
I learned that the very first Old Fashioned was said to have been born in the late 1800’s at a private social club in Louisville, Kentucky. The name Old Fashioned also became a way for a customer to describe their preference of cocktail, which meant combining a spirit with sugar and bitters…the old fashioned way.
Pacific Standard’s Old Fruit Fashioned includes cognac, curacao and morlacco cherry, which gives it the ‘fruit’ in its name. It’s a subtle twist, but enough to make this a delicious way to start the evening, at violet hour where the view at sunset is spectacular from the deck.
Definitely one of my favorite bars in Kuala Lumpur. With stunning views, deliciously good quality cocktails, and a friendly bar team – the Pacific Standard Bar in Kuala Lumpur is one to add to your list.
Cocktails are all set at the standard price of RM45 (A$15 | U$12), with mocktails offered at RM20 (A$7 | U$5). The bar is open daily – Sunday to Thursday from 12pm – 1am, and Friday and Saturday from 12pm – 2am.
If you head over earlier in the evening around sunset, just walk in and grab a seat at the bar. If you are looking to go a bit later, then I recommend to try and book yourself a table.
Special shout out to Jeannie and Shatish who helped me with the photos.
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