Flying Monkeys at Tribeca, Imbi

August 26, 2019

Defying gravity and dancing through life over the streets of Bukit Bintang, Flying Monkeys promises everything we'd want from a cocktail parlour - the courage to come up with cheekily unconventional concoctions, the brains to brilliantly weave culinary magic into both food and beverages, and the heart to make this place feel like home. The first bar-focused foray by the team behind KL's Yellow Brick Road and Wizards cafes is similarly Oz-inspired but stands distinctively on its own merit, a ravishingly textured eighth-floor space with a striking evil-shunning winged-monkeys mural by Malaysian artist Ellie Yong.

Flying Monkeys' illustrated menu is a beauty to behold, tempting patrons to order as many potions as possible. Of the five we tried, our favourite is the Wizards' Butterbeer, bringing together the Emerald City with Hogwarts, deliciously offering more depth and dimensions than expected from a single goblet, bolstering the sultry smokiness of Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky with Guinness Stout, sweetened with brown butterscotch, spiced with nutmeg and sharpened with a house-made ginger syrup for a creation that lingers on the taste buds and in the memory (RM45).

Monkey Magic is a mischievous must, perfect for the young at heart: Jim Beam Bourbon, Baileys Irish Cream and Malibu, made smoothly nectarous with milk-blended peanut butter, bananas and a hint of jackfruit, playful on the palate (RM45). Also in the easy-sipping category is Rum & Raisin - sultana-infused rum with coconut water, lime and raisin cordial, a cocktail that could turn out cloying becomes a revivingly spirited elixir in the hands of the skilled bartenders here (RM25).

Fifth Taste is more challenging, unleashing umami upon a cocktail, courtesy of a tomato cordial that dominates its companions of Edinburgh Seaside Gin, campari and calamansi - the experiment is an acquired taste, but it's well worth trying (RM45).

Local elements also form part of Flying Monkeys' spell - belacan, buah pala and gula Melaka all make their intriguing presence known in the whiskey-based Hudak (RM42; named for the Slovak bartender Martin Hudak, inspired by his discovery of Penang rojak), with buah manggis, bunga kantan, durian belanda, asam jawa and kesum popping up in multiple mocktails as well.

With nearly 18 original cocktails in its current repertoire, there's more to explore at Flying Monkeys - Glinda (with a French rose and sumac syrup) and Elphaba's Brew (gin, changed for good by green tea) should be next.

Bar snacks also showcase a lively sense of imagination - the savoury banana chips come complimentary, but double the addictive crunch by ordering the morning glory chips too, comprising deep-fried water spinach tossed with cheese (RM20). 

The drunken wontons offer a crisp bite as well but prove more dense than juicy in their stuffing of prawns and minced chicken marinated with rice wine for a subtly aromatic uplift (RM22); a better bet are the unagi baos, packed with warm, tender eel that conveys both spicy and saline notes, the latter thanks to a salted egg yolk crumble (RM32).

Ultimately though, what makes troubles melt like lemon drops might be Flying Monkeys' own-churned truffle ice cream, elegantly earthy, sandwiched in dacquoise pastry for fun finger food (RM26).

Flying Monkeys

8th Floor, Tribeca, Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Open Wed-Sun, 5pm-1am (till 2am Fri-Sat).  Tel: 03-2713-1630

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