While you don’t always need alcohol to have fun, it doesn’t mean you must settle for boring sodas and plain juices. Mocktails are fun ways to explore a mixologist's skill at pairing great flavours. So whether you’re a teetotaller or trying to cut back on spirits, here are five restaurants and bars for "cocktails" but without the hangover .
Named for the Malaysian custom of welcoming friends, family and even strangers to one’s home during festive seasons, Open House boasts a menu that highlights traditional cooking with recipes that put a spin on our local cuisine. Its mocktails also celebrate Malaysian flavours: The Semanis Jambu (RM25+) is made of jambu batu (guava), apple, lime, sour plum and asam putu; and the Akar Kebayan (RM27+) is a concoction of jungle root herbs, earl grey, eldernum syrup and tualang honey. Open House also serves zero-proof cocktails (RM45+) such as the Acqua Melon, which has watermelon, lime, egg white and seedlip garden; Kerabu Kasturi, a mix of falernum, calamansi, coconut juice, soda water and seedlip garden; and Spice Road, a delicious blend of passion fruit, lychee, orange juice, kaffir lime and seedlip spice.
Open House, G48 Suria KLCC, Lakeside, KL. 03 2162 0888. Daily,11am-11pm.
Huckleberry After Dark
When the clock strikes 5.30pm, Huckleberry Food & Fare transforms into a more playful and rebellious affair. Huckleberry After Dark’s menu ranges from house-made hot dogs and burgers to tacos and spicy chicken wings. The menu also features a range of cocktails, beers, ciders and even spiked milkshakes. For teetotallers, there are handcrafted mocktails (from RM9.90) such as the Maui Waui, which has a watermelon base with lemon, fresh jalapenos and Sprite; and the Ultimate Slushie, which is made with fresh lychee and pineapple juice plus a hint of vanilla.
Huckleberry After Dark, 2G and 4G Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara, KL. 03 2098 7933. Daily, 5.30pm-11pm.
Situated on Jalan Maarof, Knowhere Bangsar is decorated with fairy lights and mystical wall murals. The kitchen serves a range of delicious drink-friendly tapas (the mutton curry and smoked canard with plum are must-try dishes) as well as pizzas, pastas and other hearty mains. The bar boasts an impressive list of booze, from whiskies and gins to wines. Knowhere’s cocktails are unique concoctions that often champion local ingredients and its list of mocktails is no different. Highlights include the Pandan Ice Tea (RM16), which is a blend of cold brew black tea, pandan, Gomme and citrus; the Icey Nangka (RM22), a mix of jackfruit, vanilla ice cream and citric acid; and the Red Garden (RM20), a refreshing blend of pineapple, beetroot, yogurt, lemon and Perrier water.
Knowhere Bangsar, 50 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, KL. 010 220 2358. Daily,11am-12am.
Through the somewhat hidden entrance of this bar is a collection of spaces, from intimate booths to an open-air alleyway, all decorated with oriental elements. PS150 is known for its delicious cocktails and experienced bartenders. The current menu, named “Cuti-cuti Malaysia”, pays tribute to the different states in the country with cocktails (from RM40) inspired by different cities. While there is a range of cocktails that are low abv — such as the whisky-based Mr Miyagi and Kopi-O made of campari, kopi vermouth, coconut and banana — guests can also enjoy a 0% abv experience. Just choose two flavour profiles from the list (which includes tropical fruit, berry, orchard fruit and citrus) and allow the mixologists to create a concoction that perfectly suits your taste.
PS150, Ground Floor, 150, Jalan Petaling, KL. 03 7622 8777. Daily, 4pm-12am.
Lisette's Café & Bakery
A quiet nook with ample seating, Lisette’ Cafe & Bakery is a cool space to spend an afternoon or tuck into a delicious meal. Dishes such as their homemade tacos and linguine spinach pesto are a must-try, and numerous vegan options are available too. Other than fresh juices, detox drinks and infused coolers, they have refreshing mocktails at just RM15. There's an added bonus too: You'll be saving our planet one sip at a time as RM5 from your order will be donated to Free Tree Society and The Lost Food Project. If you prefer something citrusy or punchier, sample the passionfruit and yellow capsicum juice concoction Save Our Bees, or the Save Our Seas (made with ginger mint tea, mint syrup, lemongrass, honey and butterfly pea flower) for a local twist. There’s also the creamy Save Our Trees that has pandan juice, caramel syrup swirl with condensed milk, yogurt and honey.
Lisette's Café & Bakery, No. 8, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, KL. 03 2201 7772. Daily, 8am - 10pm.
This article first appeared on Sept 14, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.