Sparrow Bar @ Kota Damansara

February 21, 2016

Fixed up with mahjong tiles & tables, Sparrow takes flight as a new cocktail bar to watch, founded by Shawn Chong & Karl Too (the two pioneering men behind Omakase + Appreciate) & featuring the talents of bartenders Shirmy Chan & Joel John Timis. Discreetly tucked in a hidden room at the back of the Olfactory Bulb cafe, it's an intimate, chilled-out space that parades the most successfully creative cocktails in Kota Damansara. There's no gambling here though - the mahjong theme serves simply as the inspiration for the bar's distinctive decor & its name (mahjong sounds like 'sparrow' in Chinese, or something like that).

Expect an evolving repertoire of original concoctions that currently include the use of Malaysian elements (future sets of cocktails may borrow influences from, say, Europe for awhile, the Americas after that, & so on). Both bartenders personally create their own mixes: Shirmy's work is nuanced & surprising in its subtleties - Hot Girls Don't Cry features Cana Brava Rum, basil, cumin, sour plum, pineapple & lime; Tell Me Laureine comprises Ford's Gin, JW Black Label, Martini Bianco, liquorice, lemon & chrysanthemum tea; while Barry & Mary contains Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, raspberry, rosemary, coconut water, white vinegar & Angostura bitters in precise proportions, making for memorable cocktails worth slowly sipping & contemplating.

Joel's blends are also intriguing, displaying different dynamics that reflect his own identity & character behind the bar. Come thirsty & try everything - Spiced Up (Jose Cuervo 1800 Blanco, lemon, curry leaves, sweet vermouth, sugar), Sirap Selasih (Ford's Gin, rose pandan syrup, lime, Angostura biters) & Pekoe Park City (Rendezvous Rye, raw honey, jasmine tea, star anise); each cocktail is RM40 nett. Since Sparrow isn't meant to be a carbon copy of Omakase + Appreciate, you likely won't find Shawn & Karl's cocktails here (though occasional specials like Shawn's Mahjong Martini - with Aylesbury Duck vodka, dry vermouth & ginseng herbal tea syrup - might surface from time to time); the liquor selection here is also more narrowly focused compared to Omakase's, creating a fresh combination of challenges for Sparrow. It's an interesting step forward in the Omakase + Appreciate team's ambitious plans for this year, which include the expected launch soon of RAD, a mini-academy that aims to help raise the bar for local bartenders with classes & other educational initatives in Petaling Jaya's Section 14.

Sparrow Bar KL
15-2, Jalan PJU 5/13, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, Selangor. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm-1am

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