Over at The Five @ KPD, the smorgasbord of casual and fine-dining restaurants is at capacity every weekend. The complex is often frequented by the area’s gold- and white-collar workers but has also become a popular “it” spot for hangouts, date nights and group celebrations. One would expect to spend a considerable sum during an evening out in these parts of Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, so it was a pleasant surprise to walk out of Here & Now — the new kid on the block for drinks — with wallet relatively unscathed.
There is no shortage of good cocktails in the Klang Valley — the scene has never been so vibrant and creative — which is why it is always interesting to examine the menus of new establishments. As its name suggests, Here & Now is all about relishing the moment and the state of just being. It covertly counsels the extraction of oneself from the obsession of seeing the glass half empty or full to simply admiring the vessel instead. Are you a champagne flute or a martini glass? Either way, each serves different purposes and no two should be or look the same. After all, there is beauty in our uniqueness.
Of course, things need not get so philosophical at the bar. One can simply store the fun facts about the coupe and Nick and Nora glasses for when you need material to complete a “Did you know …”
Time plays a key role in the presentation of its main cocktail menu. Listed clockwise, the 12 offerings are presented in trines of different themes. The classics, such as Jungle Bird and Daiquiri, are filed under Past Nostalgia; Present Day plays with the removal and addition of ingredients in familiar tipples; and Future Unexplored is where all the experimental and deconstructed drinks are.
From Past Nostalgia, members of our party — perhaps those in need of a tropical holiday — ordered a Pina Colada and My Tai. They were as most would know them, with a pleasant hint of vanilla in the former. The orgeat in the My Tai was a tad overpowering towards the end though; it stained the palate with a chalky almond aftertaste.
The options in Future Unexplored were intriguing. The alcohol-forward Yellow Submarine, a concoction of whisky, DOM, vermouth and butterscotch, packed a punch at first sip but trailed into a lovely caramel finish. Because of its strength, the drink required slow nursing. In contrast, one would require restraint to nurse No Straw, a combination of white rum, amaro, falernum and fermented strawberry juice, slowly. Topped with a basil leaf cradling boba pearls (that look deceivingly like ikura), the fruity drink was well balanced and an agreeable choice. Ironically, nobody ordered a cocktail under Present Day. (What happened to all that savour-the-moment talk?)
Here is the good part: The cocktails are available in bundles: one for RM48, two for RM90 and three for RM130. Reasonable by today’s standards.
Here & Now also offers cocktails on tap. Sceptical at first, our worries were quickly put to rest with You Zo Fine, a refreshing mix of whisky, yuzu, vermouth, maraschino, citrus and sugar that enlivens the mood. It goes down effortlessly (read dangerously) and quenches one’s thirst like cold lemonade on a hot day. If you prefer your poison disguised as a summer fruit punch, then Pretty Catastropheyn is perfect — the strawberry secco, citrus, soju and saline make a cheerful libation. A word of advice: perhaps give the Backyard Soirée a miss. While the combination of white rum, sour plum, watermelon and citrus may sound like an appealing idea, there was an off-putting smell emanating from it. The taste was fine, oddly enough, but it was not an enjoyable experience overall. These lower ABV (alcohol by volume) selections were priced at RM38 for one, RM70 for two and RM100 for three.
A small food menu features the usual pub grub suspects in addition to stomach-lining dishes in case someone missed dinner. The nachos and guacamole (RM25) were disappointing as the tortilla chips came with a lot of crushed bits at the bottom and measly portion of guac. And RM15 for a dip refill? Maybe not.
These aside, Here & Now is worth visiting for drinks after work or casual get-togethers. Aesthetically, it is not quite the tiki bar it claims to be, but the quirky illustrations on the walls and windows inject the otherwise moody space with a bit of fun. The atmosphere is relaxed and easygoing, though the music may be several decibels too loud for conversation. Reservations can be made for outdoor seating if that really bothers you, but for those who like to dance, there is plenty of room to throw shapes indoors.
Here & Now, Level 3, Block E The Five, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, Jalan Dungun, Damansara Heights, KL. Tues-Thurs & Sun, 5pm till midnight; Fri-Sat, 7pm till late. Closed on Mondays. Whatsapp 012 417 1753 for reservations.
This article first appeared on July 10, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.