The Bar Hop: Opium KL
Given the rate restaurants and bars come and go in and around KL, a lot is to be said about the longevity of Opium KL in standing fastidiously rooted in its corner lot of Changkat Bukit Bintang.
Maybe it’s the eyecatching red of its Oriental window façade or perhaps it’s the chinoiserie décor that evokes a cinematic nostalgia of opium dens from olden day China; the restaurant and bar has consistently welcomed a loyal stream of diners and drinkers in its den over two years of operations.
More than anything, though, we’re putting our money on its extensive list of cocktails as the main pull factor.
Created with cocktail consultant Joshua Ivanovic but updated over the years by a host of in-house bartenders, Opium’s drinks stir intrigue with elaborate back dining_tatler_stories of Chinese lore. Once it’s got your imagination running wild, it draws you right into the tale with cocktails of complex yet harmonious flavours served in equally fascinating trappings.
They’re not created just on a whim either – each has to tie in with the identity of the bar, whether in terms of ingredients or concept.
Fruity, vibrant, and immensely easy to drink, Red Moon is a bit of a seductress, like the most famous of the Emperor of China’s concubines. You’re sweetly introduced to layers of fresh watermelon and lime juice, watermelon liqueur and orgeat syrup first before the herbaceous fragrance of gin surprise punches you at the very end.
Consort Yang Guifei, favourite consort of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty, gets a drink of her favourite fruit – lychee. The sweetness of lychee is subtly layered with the kick of gin, ginger flower, kaffir lime leaves and lemon juice to stay true to her notorious beauty, which was said to have brought down the powerful Golden Age of China.
50 Shades of Grey
A fun, if not therapeutic way of mending a broken heart, 50 Shades of Gray comes with a single bulb of rose frozen in liquid nitrogen before you crush it with your fist and scatter the broken petals over your drink. Before you sip, you’re handcuffed to the goblet to ensure you finish the robust concoction of vodka, apricot brandy, orange juice and passionfruit all in one seating.
The Assam Laksa
Yes, this is actually a drink worth sipping and no it does not taste of fish. The famous tart and spicy noodle dish is recreated into a pleasant sweet and sour cocktail with spiced rum, pineapple juice, calamansi juice, ginger flower leaf, assam boi and lots of mint. Also, laksa wouldn’t be laksa without a small kick of spice, which this drink also lives up to with sliced chilli.
To go with distinctive cocktails as above, Opium looks beyond bar bites. Instead, it focuses on solid mains of the Asian variety, although occasionally tweaked with Western ingredients and techniques, only to better match its drinks. The experience is tied together with live Chinese instrumental music on the traditional guzheng on a nightly basis.
Pop by Opium KL at 50, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur. For more information or reservation enquiries, call 03 - 2142 5670.
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