Cover Photo: Backdoor Bodega

Where to go to get the most innovative drinks in Penang's capital

George Town has a vibrant bar scene and it ranges from charming beachside spots to trendy speakeasies in the heritage core zone. Here are six bars that straddle the fine line between novelty and great drinks.

See also: 3 Bars in Malaysia Made Asia's 50 Best Bars' 51-100 2022 List

Good Friends Club

"Good friends never bojio", flashes the sign on top of its otherwise unassuming doorstep. ('Bojio' in Hokkien, the most commonly spoken dialect in Penang, means 'not invited'.) Drinks connoisseurs frequent this bar for some of the most innovative cocktails on the island inspired by its world-renowned local cuisine such as Kopi-C Peng and Umbra-Lah.

Good Friends Club | 39, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang | +6010 550 1204 | Monday-Sunday, 8pm-2am

See also: 4 Malaysian Heritage Vacation Stays For An Immersive Cultural Experience

Backdoor Bodega

Appearing for the first time on Asia's 50 Best Bars 51-100 List at #97, Backdoor Bodega is hidden at the back of an enamel pin shop. It was opened in 2016 because the owner "could not find a good place to hang out and drink cocktails." During the pandemic, it received widespread attention for its cocktails named after Covid vaccines. Although it is a tiny bar, its menu is vast, comprising over 40 signature cocktails.

Backdoor Bodega | 37 Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang hello@backdoorbodega.com | Thursday-Monday, 8pm-1am

See also: 5 Creative Spaces In George Town, Penang For A Memorable Event

Manchu

This is a bar that wears its chinoiserie inspiration on its sleeve, or in this case, every corner of its interior. Think red lanterns, lion statues, red cushions, red lighting—suffice to say, there's a lot of red. But if you can get past the kitschy decor, you will be rewarded with the creativity of the bartender who can whip up a mean cocktail based on your preferences. 

Manchu | 38 & 40, Jalan Pintal Tali, 10100 George Town, Penang | +6012 500 7588 | Tuesday-Sunday, 4pm-12am 

See also: Royal Selangor Helps You Master The Art Of Mixology

Magazine 63

Calling itself the first premium speakeasy lounge bar in Penang, Magazine 63 is also tricked out in chinoiserie decor. You won't be disappointed in the cocktails, and if you had to choose, we'd recommend The Swedish Apple that takes you back to the good ol' days of apple lollies and sour candies. 

Magazine 63 | 63, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town | +6017 636 3551 | Tuesday-Sunday, 8pm-12am

See also: 5 Popular Childhood Snacks And Candies

 

Beso Rosado

A restaurant bar with a neon bright interior, it serves up classic cocktails with a twist—think Lucky Shot Old Fashioned and Aroma Negroni. The food here is a treat too, with a variety of tapas.

Beso Rosado | 86, Lebuh Bishop, 10200 George Town, Penang | +604 263 6868 | Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm; Friday-Sunday, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm

See also: 6 Open-Kitchen Eateries in Malaysia You Need to Try for Your Next Meal Out

Mish Mash

Though a whisky bar at heart—it boasts more than 80 whiskies—the cocktail menu is worth checking out. Order the Autumn Midas made with Penang passionfruit and rum that tastes like summer. 

Mish Mash | 24, Muntri Street,10200 George Town, Penang | +6017 536 5128 | Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30pm-late

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