Jann KL is the perfect cocktail bar in the city to tell the tales of Chinatown. Located right at the entrance to Petaling Street, locals and tourists often flock to Four Points by Sheraton KL, Chinatown to get a real taste of the neighbourhood, and then end the night at the hotel’s in-house cocktail bar, Jann. While the cocktail menu has changed since the bar’s inception, its core mission of translating the stories of its neighbourhood’s inhabitants remains the same. And with the latest menu revealed by Jann’s head bartender Darwin Ng since September 2023, it’s no different. Ahead, we review six of our favourite cocktails from Jann KL’s latest menu.
This could be a hit or a miss for non-Malaysians unfamiliar with the flavour, but Vitality is as potent as it sounds. Concocted with a whisky base, Cinzano Dry, chrysanthemum, angelica, and elderflower, sipping on this cocktail feels like walking into a traditional Chinese medicine hall—which is precisely what Vitality was inspired by. Specifically, the Kean Fatt medicine shop in Chinatown. The angelica root and chrysanthemum flower really ties in the herbal flavour—Vitality is a strong, spirit-forward drink that heals as it imbibes, giving you that sense of vitality.
The Tau Foo Fah cocktail has come a long way since its first iteration. At first, it stuck true to using the actual tau foo fah from the iconic stall on Petaling Street, but this new version sits much better as a cocktail. With a base of Angostura Tamboo Rum and chocolate bitters, scooping the “tau foo fah” (made with soy milk and gelatine for consistency in texture) and grass jelly was a mind-boggling—but delightful—combination of dessert and cocktail. Ng’s use of a rum base was a good choice, as it combined well with the creaminess of the soy milk.
If there was one word to describe Air Mata Kucing, it’s this: smashable. Inspired by the hawker stalls lining Petaling Street with tall boxes of iced drinks just begging to be sipped on a hot Malaysian afternoon, this cocktail is crafted with Jim Beam white, Campari, Shanky’s Whip, monkfruit, longan, and soda. It’s the perfect starting drink for the evening: refreshing, light, sweet, and a thirst-quencher with depth. We guarantee you’ll finish this sooner than you can wipe your sweat away.
We don’t typically endorse ordering drinks just for the ‘gram, but the Xi cocktail combines pleasing visuals and a spirit-forward drink. Served in a red Chinese teapot and poured into cups, this cocktail is reminiscent of the traditional Chinese wedding custom of serving tea to your elders to receive their blessings. Its inspiration stems from a well-known matchmaking consultancy along Jalan Sultan, which has produced its fair share of wedded couples. The drink itself is a potent yet sweet one, combining cognac and D.O.M Benedictine with lotus seed, longan, red dates, peanut, and osmanthus.
Love classic cocktails? Then you’ll enjoy Tailor, which is a twist on the Manhattan. The name of the cocktail pays homage to the Kwong Fook Wing tailor along Jalan Sultan, whose heritage dates back 108 years and spans three family generations. However, this drink has no relation to tailoring. The ingredients in this cocktail are inspired by a traditional Chinese home remedy for colds: Coca-Cola, ginger, and lemon. The resulting drink is strong, spirit-forward, yet sweet.
If you’re in the mood for something spicy, definitely turn your attention towards the Madras Punch cocktail. As its name may suggest, the drink is inspired by Madras Lane, an area in Chinatown that’s known for its wet market and local food vendors. It’s a place where locals are fond of patronising and tourists with a daring heart (and stomach) can check out to get some of the best local foods in town. Curry laksa is one of the more famous delicacies to be found in Madras Lane, and those flavours inspire this cocktail. With a whisky base, Ng concocts this cocktail with coconut, curry laksa, calamansi, and milk. The resulting drink tastes just like the noodle dish, except its clearness belies the slow burn of spiciness that hits you when you least expect it.
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Address: Level 7, Four Points by Sheraton, 2, Jalan Balai Polis, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 4PM – 12AM, daily