PJ bar Terumi's new cocktail menu is a tender transformation of classics


Petaling Jaya bar, Terumi, continues to impress with a new menu that turn familiar drinks into something uniquely theirs. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The Star

Just a little over a year ago, a little bar called Terumi opened in Taman Paramount in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, co-founded by one of Malaysia’s best female bartenders, Shirmy Chan.

At the time, Terumi (also known as The Tender Bar) was helmed mainly by Chan, an award-winning bartender whose past experience includes working in iconic Malaysian bars such as Omakase + Appreciate and 61 Monarchy.

Over the past year, however, Chan has nurtured and grown a capable and creative all-female team that has in turn, transformed Terumi into one of Malaysia’s most unique and underrated cocktail bars.

Hence, it’s only fitting that the bar’s new menu is called “Transformation”. According to Chan, the menu is based around the word, whether it is transforming drinks from their previous menus into new ones, or putting their own transformative twist on classic cocktails.

The Himitsu is a beautifully presented twist on the classic Aviation. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The StarThe Himitsu is a beautifully presented twist on the classic Aviation. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The Star

The main menu is now separated into four categories – Highball/Fizz (mainly light and easy tipples), Daisy (citrusy and with no ice), Foamy (soft and smooth drinks with, yes, foam), and Stirred (bold and spirit-forward).

There is also a “Director Edition” segment featuring five of Chan’s signature cocktails, including the award-winning Fisher-man’s Blue, which won her the Malaysian leg of the Giffard West Cup in 2019, and two Moutai baijiu-based drinks that you should definitely try as well. But for now, let’s focus on the new drinks in the four main categories.

Yuhi is an interesting twist on the Paloma highball.Yuhi is an interesting twist on the Paloma highball.

Highball/Fizz

Comprising mainly tall, refreshing and light cocktails. Of the two new drinks here, the Yuhi is an interesting twist on the Paloma, replacing the usual grapefruit soda and tequila with the smoky goodness of mezcal and clarified orange soda, with added flavours and textures from chilli, aloe vera, honey, and lime.

The other new drink is Shinin-yoku, using cognac, amaro, rooibos, cinnamon, and soda for a herbal, complex riff on the classic Americano.

The East Pier is a truly unique take on the classic Gimlet.The East Pier is a truly unique take on the classic Gimlet.

Daisy

A Daisy is an umbrella term for drinks that are more citrus forward but also have a liqueur alongside the base spirit. The East Pier is based on one of the more popular of the gin daisy-styled drinks – the Gimlet, though Terumi has put its own quite unique twist on it by serving it with a yuzu sorbet and dill pearl.

Another familiar classic that has been given the Terumi touch is the Margarita. Called Hoja, the tequila reposado base is complemented by not just the usual triple sec and lime, but also houjicha and strawberry, for a margarita with layers of flavours.

Kiku is a riff on the Sidecar that uses honey as a sweetener.Kiku is a riff on the Sidecar that uses honey as a sweetener.

The other two new drinks in this category make use of honey as the sweet element – Sidecar-riff Kiku is a nicely balanced mix of cognac, and honey, with chrysanthemum, vermouth, and Italian bitter liqueur for balance.

Then there’s the Nonbiri, which is a herbal/floral twist on the Bee’s Knees using gin, honey, angelica root, lavender and lemon.

Look at that lovely foam on the Murasaki, a riff on the Ramos Gin Fizz.Look at that lovely foam on the Murasaki, a riff on the Ramos Gin Fizz.

Foamy

When it comes to foamy classic cocktails, one drink rules them all – the Ramos Gin Fizz, a notoriously tough drink that bartenders love to hate making.

Terumi, however, has come up with a quite unique take on this drink – the Murasaki, made with vodka and Moutai Baijiu. The purple potato and foam adds a nice savoury flavour to it, but it’s the baijiu notes lurking under all that fluffy creaminess that really make this drink stand out.

Mr Fukuro is an Espresso Martini that has been given the Terumi treatment.Mr Fukuro is an Espresso Martini that has been given the Terumi treatment.

The Espresso Martini is another popular foamy drink that has been given the Terumi treatment – Mr Fukuro has the quintessential vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur, but also adds the herbal notes of Fernet Branca and a yummy sea salt cream on top.

Stirred

Now we come to my favourite kind of drink – strong, stirred, and spirit-forward.

The Truffle Dog is a great savoury twist on the dirty martini, using vodka, truffle oil, white pepper tincture, clarified grapefruit juice, saffron, and Parmesan cheese.

The ingredients make it seem like there is a lot going on, but the savouriness of the truffle matches the citrus hit from the grapefruit perfectly, with splashes of peppery spice all around. I love the way it was presented too!

The Truffle Dog is a great savoury twist on the dirty martini.The Truffle Dog is a great savoury twist on the dirty martini.

The Himitsu, however, takes my vote for best new drink on the menu. It replaces gin with mezcal for a smoky, beautifully presented twist on the Aviation.

I usually don’t fancy the floral notes of violet liqueur, but the smokiness of the mezcal and lychee balances it out very nicely.

The all-important Old Fashioned twist, Ganbaru, is a nice dessert-y one too.The all-important Old Fashioned twist, Ganbaru, is a nice dessert-y one too.

Last but not least, we have the all-important Old Fashioned twist – Ganbaru.

And it’s a nice dessert-y one too, with whisky, brown butter, cocoa bitters, PX sherry, banana and chocolate chip – all rich, prominent flavours that somehow come together for a drink that is great as an all-nighter, or one to end the night with.


Michael Cheang’s favourite drinks at ‘The Tender Bar’ are actually the ones that are not that tender. Follow him on Facebook (fb.com/MyTipsyTurvy) and Instagram (@MyTipsyTurvy).

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cocktails , cocktail menu , cocktail bar , Terumi

   

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