Scenic lounge an urban getaway

Amaya Bar’s breezy alfresco setting with drinks to match its garden vibe makes it feel like an oasis in the heart of the city. — Photos: JEREMY TAN/The Star

WHEN a scenic garden meets a good drink, the stage is set for pleasurable moments.

This uplifting premise is what draws many to Amari Spice Penang’s Amaya Bar, a breezy oasis in bustling Bayan Lepas.

It is an extension of the hotel’s Amaya Food Gallery on Level 4 and occupies an outdoor terrace overlooking the rooftop gardens of the adjoining Setia SPICE Convention Centre.

The decor is modern and chic, with pastel red tiles and a sleek slate finish on the U-shaped long bar.

A slatted wood facade frames the space and adds architectural interest.

Guests can also kick back on plush sofas, beanbag chairs or wicker loungers spread around the landscaped terrace, all cleverly oriented towards the expansive greenery and surrounding skyline.

At night, the convention centre’s roof also comes alive with LED light shows.

Sunsets provide an extra spectacle on some days.

All one needs is a drink or two.

While the bar stocks a vast selection of spirits, wines and beers, the innovative cocktails and mocktails are what stand out.

The mixology team, which includes bartender Toh Wei Giap, loves striking up conversations with guests from all over the world and delving into what inspired the different concoctions.Toh serving up some of Amaya Bar’s popular drinks, including the Piscomanthus (in tall glass).Toh serving up some of Amaya Bar’s popular drinks, including the Piscomanthus (in tall glass).

“We enjoy thrilling taste buds with unique flavours that might not have been encountered before.

“Together with the scenic backdrop, it becomes a treat for the senses,” said Toh.

He said the surroundings were what inspired their latest creation aptly-named Amaya Garden.

Blending gin with elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, melon puree and cucumber, it exudes a delicate herbaceous flavour that resonates with the scenery

.“We wanted something refreshing that distilled the views into every sip,” Toh said.

A non-alcoholic version with honey, lemon, matcha and soda is also available.

Another new libation worth trying is Taste Me, a playful, whisky-forward cocktail that also has cherry brandy, pineapple juice, cinnamon, bitters, mint, star anise and banana syrup.

Sweet and refreshing with pleasing vanilla notes, it has all the makings of a crowd favourite.

“Bananas aren’t often used in cocktails but it’s a great ingredient.

“Indigenous fruits and spices can give drinks a local identity, and make it distinctive.

“Amari is the largest Thai hotel brand in Malaysia and, so, we incorporate both countries’ culinary cultures into our creations,” Toh said.

The pisco-based Amaya Sour and Piscomanthus are good examples of this purposeful blend.

(Clockwise from bottom, left) Bar bites like the Beef Burritos, Truffle Fries and Chicken Fingers go well with any drink.(Clockwise from bottom, left) Bar bites like the Beef Burritos, Truffle Fries and Chicken Fingers go well with any drink.

The former is a twist on the Pisco Sour and substitutes simple syrup with cinnamon syrup, gaining a warm fragrance.

The latter blends the high-proof spirit with berry puree, lemon juice and a syrup made from osmanthus, a delicate flower known for its antioxidant qualities and often used in Chinese desserts.

This is one of the rare instances where one can technically drink and detox!

Amaya Bar also has good spins on the Espresso Martini and Vodka Old Fashioned. Those preferring classics would also find a mean Mojito and Whisky Sour, among others.

Notable among mocktails is the Mystrica, which highlights Penang’s iconic fruit nutmeg alongside a supporting cast of lemon juice, cinnamon, apple juice and ginger ale.

Otherwise, the Wangi (sour plum and soda), Aroi Mak (lime juice, tamarind, ginger and pineapple) or Wan Wan (pineapple, ginger, tamarind and butterfly pea syrup) are equally great alternatives for a sober night out.

If you are feeling peckish, there is a palate-pleasing menu of local and international treats by Amaya Food Gallery’s new executive chef Azmi Affandi.

The Truffle Fries (with grated parmesan and mayo dip), Chicken Fingers (slices of deep fried and battered boneless chicken breast with curry mayonnaise) and Beef Burritos (shredded brisket in tortillas with garlic sauce and Harissa dip) will go great with any drink.

“We take pride in making everything fresh daily.

“Our menu is an eclectic mix of Malaysian, Thai, Asian and international flavours,” said Azmi, a Sabahan who previously worked in various European countries, sometimes alongside Michelin-starred chefs.

Alternately, guests can also head inside to enjoy Amaya Food Gallery’s scrumptious nightly buffets.

AMAYA BAR – Level 4,

Amari Spice Penang, Persiaran Mahsuri, Bayan Lepas,

11900 Penang.

Business hours: 11am to midnight daily. Contact: 012-9561030.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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