Words: Kirsten Durward Photos: Monica Tindall
Hyde at 53M: a name that should be memorized by every serious cocktail drinker in the country. A rising star of the current speakeasy trend in Kuala Lumpur, the cocktails created here simply blow away much of the competition in the city in terms of originality, flavour and sensational presentation. Hyde at 53M will certainly be on my top five cocktail drinking spots for 2016.
Sliding away the screen doors to the ‘hidden’ bar behind reveals a spacious outdoor area, somewhat glamorously bedecked with an original lighting installation. For those who prefer indoor drinking, the slim bar is lined with slinky stools and surrounded by capacious comfortable black lounging sofas. It’s all terribly ‘prohibition era’ but with a little 21st century pizazz too.
Owner and cocktail visionary Andrew is full of enthusiasm for the milieu and speaks passionately about the need for creative experimentation and forward thinking to keep the experience fresh and attract discriminating clients. In reality this translates to artisanal products, an unusual range of liquors and flavours, and well-trained bartenders. The innovative cocktail menu changes every two weeks, but the boys behind the bar will make you pretty much anything you ask for, or will recommend you a drink if you tell them your taste preferences.
Well our taste preferences tonight are whatever Andrew cares to offer use, beginning with a twist on an Old Fashioned. We are immediately mesmerized by the precise care that is demonstrated through the making of the drink. Home made spiced bitters are dripped into a glass, followed by a drizzle of sugar syrup, before a two ounce measure of rye whiskey is added and swirled around with a perfectly dazzling ice ball. As a final touch, a prettily dehydrated orange slice is added. This is a drink that needs to mellow slightly with the ice before sipping, once tasted it has delightfully oriental spiced undertone that in no way detracts from the whiskey’s potency. We love it.
Having tantalized us with this oriental version, Andrew rolls out the tropical interpretation next. The Screw Pine Old Fashioned is blended from pandan infused Chivas Regal 188 and Malibu. Who would have thought it? With its smoothness, sweet edge and coconut aftertaste, this is definitively a fusion for the locally inspired drinker.
A bottle of Hennessy appears, now that’s much more my speed than rye. But in some kind of surrealistic innovation it’s being blended with two kinds Kizakura sake. Again, the show at the bar is very engaging, as an egg is cracked and strained cleverly through the shell, the pure egg white is shaken up with simple syrup and our spirit selection, making a meringue like foam. Ice is added for the second shaking only, we are told the first shaking is to put maximum air in the mix. We can barely contain ourselves as a stunning presentation evolves, complete with colourful fan and secret message explaining the cocktail. Finally a taste and the Japonism is an instant hit. A very stylish mix of Japanese and French tastes and Monica remarks that the secret envelope would be a pretty way to do a proposal too!
Regular readers will know that we all three favour rum as a spirit, so are delighted to hear that’s featured in the next blend, The Virgin Island for rum drinkers. A simple concoction of our Bacardi Carta Blanca and Banks Rum with pineapple juice, freshly squeezed lemon and a touch of simple syrup. But the full conception of this drink can only be appreciated in person. After serious shaking, the smooth mix is carefully poured into a blown glass dove ensconced in a hand made nest. Almost (but not quite) too precious to spoil by tasting! The taste impresses me like a subtle pineapple daiquiri, and poor Caning has to wrestle just for a touch of the straw. I remark it is my favourite of the night and I’m impressed with the concept. Andrew smiles and replies; ‘You want to create a drink right, create the best don’t do a half past six job no fifty fifty, just make it great!’ Agreed. This one is great!
Creativity abounds again with the White Panthera. A blend of Snow Leopard vodka, and St Germain whipped up with egg white and plenty of ice, and trickled into an old style Champagne glass. The presentation is once again brilliant. Coffee powder is scattered in an animal print pattern and brûléed marshmallow sits to the side on dusted icing sugar. To taste, it’s a lovely lemony foamy blend, slightly softer and good for this point in the evening.
All things delicious have to come to a close, and our last refreshment is a worthy close indeed, another subtle twist on a classic. Garden Gin and Tonic stars Tanquerray No. Ten, Martini Bianco and Fentimans tonic. The glass is stuffed with olives, fruit, cucumber and topped with Hyde’s signature touch, the edible flower. It’s delectably aromatic with hints of pomelo and a nice touch of salination.
Drinking without nibbles is a dangerous business, so throughout our taste experience we were offered some savoury snacks to soak up some of the alcohol. Crispy fried chicken skin, Parmesan truffle fries and Caning’s favourite, mushroom and cheese spring rolls. Those soon disappeared into his smiling face.
Hyde at 53M is a gem, an absolute drinking destination. It’s an experience definitely worth crossing town for. Once you’ve tried it you are sure to trickle back time and time again. Cocktails range from RM40 – RM50 and the list changes bi-monthly. Order any classic you like, reminisce over a favourite, talk to the knowledgeable barmen about your likes and they will recommend something to suit.
Reasons to visit: stylish atmosphere, entertaining bar tenders, delicious cocktails, strong measures, late night drinking fun.
Hyde at 53M
Above The Good Batch
No. 53, Jalan SS21/1A,
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia