Whenever someone asks me what cocktail bars I usually visit on a night out, one of my first answers is always inevitably Coley.
Located on Jalan Abdullah in a relatively quieter part of Bangsar, it's a bar that has placed in the Asia 50 Best Bars list before, and maintained its position among the Top 100 lists this year as well.
But that's not the reason I like it so much – the combination of tasty drinks, top-notch bartenders, great hospitality, good food, and a generally laidback and friendly atmosphere are the main reasons I've been visiting Coley for the past seven years since it first opened.
Anyway, Coley launched a new menu a couple of months back, with an impressive number of new drinks that come under a few categories, namely Signatures, Classics, Aperitivos, Shots, and of course, their signature “Koktels”.
The food menu has also been updated by Coley’s head chef Joel Kirk, and while some old favourites like the Steak Freaks are still on the menu, but Kirk has beefed it up further with some pretty good new mains and bites as well, from the yummy Cincai Tostadas to the Mari Mari Calamari.
Among the new drinks are 10 that come under the “Signature” cocktail section. These are the ones that do the heavy lifting when it comes to more complex and creative concoctions.
Highlights for me include the rum-based, Asian-spiced Thokku-Thokku, the coffee-tinged Papillon Eye, and the 3 Canes Old-Fashioned, which mixes two rums and cachaca with gingered gula melaka for a heavy but satisfyingly complex twist on the classic Old-Fashioned.
While some of its best-selling drinks, such as the Gin And Coconut and the other Koktels, are still there, others, like the iconic Peanut Butter Jelly is nowhere to be seen (though I was told that you can still order it off the menu).
There IS one new drink among the regular Koktels though – the Between Highball, which is a twist on the whisky highball that also adds hops distillate into the mix alongside Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky and soda.
Coley is named after late bartender Ada “Coley” Coleman, who was one of only two women to become head bartender of the famous American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel, a position she held for 23 years, from 1903 to 1926.
As a tribute to its namesake, Coley also has a section dedicated to the Hanky Panky, Coleman’s most famous cocktail creation. There are three different variations of the drink on the new menu – the classic one that is made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca amaro liqueur (and then aged in a claypot for a further twist); and two unique riffs as well.
Last but not least, the new Aperetivo and Shots menu serve to give regular patrons something different to enjoy with each visit. And speaking of regulars, Coley has also brought back one of my favourite drinks of all time – the Brandy And Mata Kucing!
Well, sort of – it is now a brand new Signature cocktail called the Dragon Eye, which is much more spirit-forward than the former iteration, but no less tasty.