Cleverly curated cocktails

Director’s Cut has a chemist and a rotary evaporator to take the cocktail experience to a whole new level.

 WHISKEY is a wonder of alchemy and it is a drink that has been enjoyed for centuries.

Just as alchemists sought to transform base materials into something precious, whiskey makers aspire to do the same.

They take ordinary grains and transform them into a drink that has multi layers of depth and flavour.

On the ground floor of Menara Ken TTDI, Kuala Lumpur, resides Director’s Cut by The Whisky Bar KL, which has been in the neighbourhood since last November.

The conceptualisation of the name was explained by Werner’s Group managing director Andreas König.

“When a whiskey distillery has a special run, it does a custom filling of a cask for bottling. A few distilleries call it the ‘director’s cut’. It’s when a whiskey distillery director gets involved to develop something special,” he said.

The design of Director’s Cut is inspired by the look of modern whiskey distilleries and grand hotel bars.

The bar’s interior has pipes that reflect pot stills in whiskey distilleries, with extended copper piping and dark gold trimmings.

 (From left) Littlefall is reminiscent of fresh apples; New York Sour Upside Down and Espresso Martini.(From left) Littlefall is reminiscent of fresh apples; New York Sour Upside Down and Espresso Martini.

The three private rooms are aptly named too: William Grant, Samuel Boyd, and Shinjiro Torii, who are icons of the whiskey world.

But the name “Samuel Boyd” has garnered some questions.

“Customers asked me, ‘Why did you name a room after an Australian serial killer?’

“It wasn’t my intention, because Samuel Boyd was also the commercial director of one of the old Bushmills distilleries in Ireland.

“I think we need to place a plaque saying ‘not the serial killer’ in this room,” said König with a laugh.

The establishment serves 700 whiskey varieties, of which 600 are served by the glass.

Compared to its outlet in Changkat Bukit Bintang, the one in TTDI sees a different buying behaviour, according to König.

“In Changkat, we have whiskey by shot. In TTDI, people go for bottles or our whiskey flight sets,” he said.

At the TTDI outlet, curated tasting sets, comprising tasting sizes smaller than the average shots, will appeal to novice whiskey drinkers and connoisseurs alike.

It samples a range of whiskeys from four to 10 types, curated according to region or age statements.

“The idea behind this is for the customer to get a bit more than just one drink. After finishing the set, they can tell us what they like the most,” König said.

If you don’t know where to start, check the placemat that lines the tray for the whiskey flights to educate drinkers. Start from clockwise left, go from light to heavy.

There is also a snapshot of where the whiskey is from to let you know if it’s from the highland, lowlands or Speyside.

The ice ball and an eyedropper in a glass of water are obligatory features on the tray.

“A lot of people tell us how (they like) to drink whiskey – neat, with water, or ice and they have a lot of opinions.

“So we give customers the shot glass, ice ball and water, and they can drink however they want,” said König.

Speaking of alchemy, Director’s Cut takes the experience of drinking cleverly curated cocktails to a whole new level, to the extent of hiring a chemist.

This nugget of information came after we saw that the Espresso Martini was crystal clear and realised Director’s Cut was not a typical bar.

It used a contraption called the “rotavap” (rotary evaporators used for removing solvents by evaporation) to manipulate the temperature of the water to get a clear aromatic elixir – hence the presence of the chemist to ensure everything is spot on.

“Water boils at 100°C. We can boil water at 20°C because the vacuum pump in the contraption takes out the atmospheric pressure.

“Imagine boiling orange juice to get a reduction on a stove and the heat destroys the aromatics, whereas we can maintain the flavour of the orange syrup with an average 20°C boiling temperature,” said König.

He said the bar goes beyond serving whiskey, as evidenced by the in-house cocktail menu.

The rotavap allows the infusion of base spirits with certain flavours, like a mini distillery.

“Whether vodka or bourbon, we can infuse aromatics into it, but not for every drink,” he elaborated.

We had New York Sour Upside Down, and Littlefall, a fruity apple concoction.

If you are a Whiskey Sour fan, try the New York version.

A red wine float is poured over whiskey sour, and it’s “upside down” because the red wine reduction drops to bottom.

A full-bodied wine infused with house-made five-spice syrup has its water content extracted, resulting in a syrupy wine reminiscent of mulled wine.

Director’s Cut positions itself as a friendly, classy and warm neighbourhood restaurant and bar, so you can even go there just for a Guinness.


G3A & G5, Menara Ken TTDI,

Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi,

Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 012-8005902. Business hours: 4pm-2am, daily.


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