Botak: Liquor for botanicals cocktails – YOUR LIBATIONS with a GREEN twist!

Farm to plate, farm to table – that was the buzz going around in the F & B scene for a while.

Now, how about farm to glass?

I watched in fascination as Giri, Botak Liquor’s self-professed gin connoisseur and bartender examined the pots hanging over his head, ran his fingers among some leaves and proceeded to pluck a few before he ambled over to the sink and gave them a rinse. As my eyes widen, he plonked them into my cocktail glass.

Fresh indeed, I mumbled and then quickly whipped out my camera as a hilarious thought came into my mind. Could they have name this speakeasy “BOTAK Liquor” because they botak their plants to make their cocktails? LOL! 😀


That’s not the last of it though, for Giri as he proceeds to serve our drinks, he passed us compostable coasters – thick, flat and funny shaped leaves which can be recycled and in a way, leaves little (if any) carbon footprint.

BELOW: How do you like my coasters?

So, are you getting the idea yet?

Pots, foliage, herbs, leaves as coasters, farm to glass?

If yes, fabulous – for that’s the whole ‘farm to glass‘ for you.
If no, well, READ ON.

BOTAK|LIQUOR’s concept varies from the typical bars in the Klang Valley. The team possess strong beliefs for sustainable drinks with focus on pure spirits, local botanicals and the elimination of any inclusion of commercial flavours.
Almost like a green bar, but of the alcoholic kind!

The libations are light (NO skimping on alcohol so no worries there) and simple with clean flavours. Only clear spirits are offered and whenever possible, drinks are incorporated with organic ingredients (think vegetables, fruits and flowers) grown in the founder’s home garden.

So there are no commercial, chemically processed flavoured syrups added for coloring, taste or as modifiers in your cocktails. The syrups, garnishes and more are made in-house.

The team is proud of of their clear spirits and as duly expected, Giri started us off with a shot each of Ireland’s Glendalough seasonal gin (Wild Spring Botanical) and Glendalough Poitin.

And yes, that’s Giri in the background. You will be seeing more of him in all my shots.

Glendalough seasonal gin:
For the gin, we were informed that the distillery does not produce more than 3000 bottles for each season and is further limited to only 500 bottles for every batch.
As the Irish weather brings change each season which in turn affects the produce, we are to expect slight variations of it from each batch.

Glendalough Poitin:
Alright. Gin is gin. But what the heck is “poitin“?

As I listened to Giri, it was starting to sound like like we have uncovered a holy spirit (not of the ghostly kind) which used to be distilled by monks.
Traditionally, Poitin is made from malted barley, sugar beet and potatoes. Fancy name aside, it is an Irish “whiskey”.

Verdict?
My alcoholic friends were split into two on this – I liked neither. Josh enjoyed both. Patrick liked one and couldn’t stand the other while Lavinia thought both were “interesting“. Alvin seems intrigued by both.

Well, I can tell you one thing for sure – both were heady, extremely strong and high in alcohol levels so it will hit you hard. The finish is warm and spicy.

And oh, before I babble on, let me introduce to you my liquor connoisseur squad – The Imbiblicals!

We are the folks behind each article about bars, speakeasies, alcohol related tastings and events. Every member love his/her libations in varying preparations and possessed diversified experiences with spirits.
As a team, we will collectively share our different assessments and thoughts on each boozy establishment we visit.

Now that you know us, let’s get back to the drinks…

There are two types of cocktails at BOTAK Liquor – the ones on tap (yeap, like beer on taps) and the ones Giri whips up upon order.
Botak Liquor is the only bar with house-pouring cocktail taps so that is another cool feature of this joint. Do rest all doubts about freshness as the cocktails are mixed, carbonated and kept in ideal temperature and duration for each type.

On Tap: Jasmine and Tarragon (RM38++)gin, homemade jasmine cordial, tarragon, lemon bitters and fizz. There are twelve cocktails on the menu with four served from the tap. This is one of them.

It turned out to be one of the prettiest cocktail of the night and I actually liked it as it was on the sweet side.

Next was the Violet x Dragonfruits (RM42++). This consist of Grappa | dragonfruits | violet liqueur | maraschino | lime.
This was pretty much like a bitter-ish dragonfruit potion.

Nangka & Grapefruit (RM34++) – tequila blanco, grapefruit soda, house-made jackfruit liqueur, charcoal salt.
I love jackfruit and had wished that the jackfruit liqueur was stronger. This came across mainly like a refreshing, sweet-soda-ish beverage.

Bunga Kantan and Pumpkin (RM36++) featuring pumpkin seed infused vodka, calamansi and homemade red ginger lily soda turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant cocktail. The homemade red ginger lily (bunga kantan) made every sip light, pleasantly sweet yet delivering a mild kick. We were not sure what role the pumpkin seed was supposed to play, but we downed this pretty quickly.

Since Giri was part of the OPIHR world adventure cocktail competition at Marrakech, Morocco recently, we tested him with an order of gin and tonic.
He added East Imperial Grapefruit tonic with The Botanist gin.
I personally never liked gin but thanks to the grapefruit tonic, this particular G & T was a much tolerable one!

Then it is Whisky Sour (RM40++), our group’s favourite cocktail.
Giri nailed it.


Build Your Own Cocktail at Botak Liquor Bar

As if all the cocktails flavours weren’t fun enough, there is a section where you can build your own!

I was tempted to go crazy of course, but the group managed to placate my eagerness by warning me that my expensive cocktail might not be drinkable. So with a bit of aid from Guru Giri we picked out pretty “normal” ingredients – pineapple, mint, elderflower and armagnac.

Smelling zesty and tasting slightly sweet, it turned out to be a fun drink!

Six drinks were on the house (thanks Shin!) while we paid for another four on our own. According to my liquor enthusiasts partners, Botak Liquor’s prices are within the typical speakeasy/bar range.

Our bill: Total – RM159.50
Whisky Sour: RM40++
Bunga Kantan & Pumpkin: RM36++
The Botanist : RM25++ (this was our gin for our tonic and tonic)
East Imperial Grapefruit: RM8++ (this was for our gin and tonic)
Oatmeal Stout : RM36++

We had dinner prior to drinks at Botak’s sister restaurant (Cho.cha) downstairs since there are no food served in Botak. However, a small snack menu will be introduced soon. I’m pretty sure it would include something Giri could pluck from the pots hanging over him at the bar. 😀

Pros:
An intimate, laid back space ideal for conversation and small groups. As pictured above the drinks menu offers pretty unique libations and if you fancy something different, throw the challenge at Giri and he would be game to whip up off-menu too if he has the ingredients.
The build-your-own cocktails option provide another alternative to
Botak Liquor is within walking distance from Pasar Seni MRT (last train 11:30 pm) and if you drive, there is an open space parking lot just 10 meters away. RM5 /entry after 6pm.

Cons:
Hmm.. our gang was pretty happy with everything, though of course, not every drink was to everyone’s liking. Giri is easily one of the easiest bartender to chat with and likeable in every way, which really helps for you’re like to head to bars where the bartender is a friend.
Personally, from what we sampled that evening, I only wish that the botanicals cocktails possess stronger aroma/taste of the vegetables/flowers etc that it was added.

Here’s what Patrick has to say about Botak Liquor:

“Honestly it was like walking into one of the old pre-war shop lots along Penang Road. There was a homely feel when you walk in and presence of the 21st century in the form of CCTV cameras, creative lighting and I-beam reinforcements, seem to be like a soothing background jaz accompaniment to an oldies tune; different yet harmonious. The food is fusion. Unique taste blends but refreshing to the pallate. The roast chicken especially. But there is a price though. Not in money but in time. The dishes to take a bit of time, but if you are able to stand it, it may be worth the wait.

As for the bar, that is an experience that I would highly recommend. The sheer uniqueness of the place makes you feel like you visiting a very creative friend’s loft. The drinks are gin based. Be prepared to have your mind broadened. Prices are on the usual spectrum of the speakeasy places. But as with any good bar, the draw is the bar tender. Easy going, friendly, humourous and especially knowledgeable and talented. Need a twist on a classic whisky sour? No problem! A place to return to.”

https://www.facebook.com/BOTAKLiquor/
Tuesday – Saturday: 4.30pm-1am
Sunday: 3pm-11pm
Add: 156, Jalan Petaling
50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.