From Bak Kwa to Cham O cocktails: KL bar Jann's new Petaling Street-inspired menu


Jann's new cocktail menu draws inspiration from historical figures, traditional trades, local culture and legends that make Chinatown a heritage destination.

Lately, Petaling Street has become one of the go-to places in KL for great drinks and cocktails, thanks to bars like Penrose (which recently made its debut at No.50 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list), Rust (which specialises in tuak cocktails), long-time stalwarts like PS150, Botakliquor, and The Attic; as well as others like Wildflowers, Concubine, Kapitan Haus, and Her House in the vicinity.

Inspired by the local meat jerky that is commonly sold in Chinatown, Jann’s Bak Kwa cocktail is one of the highlights of its new menu. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The StarInspired by the local meat jerky that is commonly sold in Chinatown, Jann’s Bak Kwa cocktail is one of the highlights of its new menu. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The StarOne other Petaling Street bar worth visiting is Jann, especially since the bar has always been about paying tribute to the flavours, sights and sounds of KL’s Chinatown.

Located on the seventh floor of Four Points by Sheraton hotel, the bar boasts a magnificent view of the KL skyline and the entire Petaling Street sprawling out below it.

Jann recently launched a new cocktail menu called Lost In Chinatown, featuring 12 new drinks that “draw inspiration from historical figures, traditional trades, local culture and legends that make Chinatown a heritage destination”.

According to head bartender Darwin Ng, the idea behind it was to find new parts of Chinatown to highlight, while refining and improving some of the popular favourites that were already on the menu.

Among the drinks that have been updated is the signature Dear Jann cocktail, which is now made with Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt whisky, calamansi, and topped with soda for an effervescent, refreshing tipple.

The Tailor pays tribute to a century-old tailor shop called Kwong Fook WingThe Tailor pays tribute to a century-old tailor shop called Kwong Fook WingPerennial favourites Tau Fu Fah and Bak Kwa have also been improved – the former by replacing the base spirit with Angostura Tamboo spiced rum and adding some chocolate bitters; and the latter by infusing “five times more bak kwa” into its Ballantine’s Finest Whisky base spirit compared to the previous iteration, and adding a touch of smoky Montelobos Espadin Mezcal to really bring forth that smoky, savoury flavours of the local meat jerky that it is inspired by.

Other food-inspired drinks include the whisky-based Madras Punch, which captures the flavours of Curry Laksa perfectly; and Chok, inspired by a famous congee stall that only opens late at night.

The Dim Sum is a drink based on the popular “lau sah bao” (lava-filled dumpling); and the Cham O is an amalgam of common drinks in local kopitiams such as Kopi O, Teh O and Umbra juice.

There are also drinks inspired by various merchants around the area, including a drink that comes in a little teapot called Xi (which pays tribute to the wedding consultants on Petaling Street) and Hu Li Jing (a colour-changing gin-based floral drink that is a nod to the ever changing face of the local Pasar Karat flea market).

The Vitality cocktail at Jann is a nicely-balanced, refreshing yet herbal drink.The Vitality cocktail at Jann is a nicely-balanced, refreshing yet herbal drink.My favourite of these, however, is The Tailor, which pays tribute to a century-old tailor shop called Kwong Fook Wing.

The drink combines whisky and vermouth with the ingredients for a common Cantonese home remedy – homemade cola syrup, ginger tincture, and lemon – for a Martini-styled tipple that packs a flavourful, slightly medicinal, and spirit-forward punch.

Then there’s the Vitality, which is a tribute to the Chinese medicinal halls in Petaling Street. This is arguably my favourite of the 12 drinks, as it combines Chivas 12 Year Old Scotch, dry vermouth, with the medicinal bitterness of angelica root (‘dong guai’ in Chinese) and floral notes of chrysanthemum and elderflower for a nicely-balanced, refreshing yet herbal drink.

Besides the 12 core drinks, there is also a special Happy Hour menu of four cocktails inspired by childhood snacks such as haw flakes, Polo mint candy, seaweed slices, and lemon tablets.


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