Don’t call PS150 a speakeasy.
“It’s a hidden bar, with lots of standing space,” co-founder and head bartender Angel Ng explained.
Housed in a pre-war shop that once served as a brothel at the end of Petaling Street (the name, PS150 is essentially its address – 150, Petaling Street), the bar occupies a unique space beside an old school stationery shop, and right under popular coffee shop, Merchant’s Lane.
We won’t give away the ‘secret’ entrance that leads to the bar, but let’s just say that once you’re done ‘toying’ around at the front door, you’ll enter a space that is designed to bring you back in time to three distinct eras in the history of Indochina.
The first room that greets you is an intimate lounge with three booths that will have you wondering if you’ve walked into the set of a Wong Kar Wai movie. Sitting in this area, you half expect Maggie Cheung to walk past you in her cheongsam.
Open the door at the end of this lounge, however, and you’ll be greeted by an airy, rustic looking area with tree roots on the walls, and lots of standing space. “Many bars in KL don’t really have much standing space,” says Ng. “There is this misconception that you should only be sitting down at a cocktail bar. We want to move away from that and give people more room to stand. If you want to sit, there’s always the bar.”
Ah yes, the bar. The final piece of the PS150 puzzle. The first thing you’ll notice as you enter the bar area is that striking red neon sign adorning the bar, with the Chinese words “Chi Chueng Kai”, the local Chinese name for Jalan Petaling (the words roughly mean “starch mill road”, referring to the tapioca mill that used to be on the street).
The bar area itself is a room of contrasts – cosy yet spacious, intimate yet lively, it is a bar that doesn’t lie about its intentions, which is to serve you the best possible drinks in the most comfortable environment possible.
Designed by Angel herself, the drinks menu is divided into the five distinct eras of cocktail history: Vintage, Prohibition, Tiki, Disco and Contemporary.
In the spirit of Chinese New Year, and since we were in a bar in Chinatown, I decided to ask Ng to whip up three drinks with a Chinese theme – a long drink with kumquat flavours, a twist on a lychee martini, and finally, one of the bar’s specialties: a drink inspired by Chinese longan and red dates tea.
As I sipped those drinks in this uniquely oriental-flavoured bar in Chinatown, it was hard not to start feeling the Chinese New Year spirit already. Gong xi gong xi!
PS150 is located at 150, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur. Opening hours are 6pm-2am, Mondays to Saturdays. For reservations or inquiries, call 03-2022 2888, or e-mail: email@example.com.
Michael Cheang would like to wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year, and may your glass never go empty. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mytipsyturvy).