March 22, 2019
Dementors and Daiquiris? KL's latest cocktail parlour is partly inspired by spellbinding fantasy sagas like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, but its concoctions also tackle controversial real-life themes like euthanasia and recreational drug use (!), making it a bar that breaks boundaries but not enchantments.
Even securing entry into Potions is a more complicated drama compared to most speakeasy-style spaces: Find the Chinatown back-alley door, climb the stairs within a small courtyard, then look for the old wardrobe - open it to penetrate this magical realm of mixology, with crumbling cabinets packed with books of sorcery, preserved insects and replicas of animal skulls.
Springing straight out of the Goblet of Fire, Lord Voldemort's murderous snake Nagini strikes through Nagini's Venom (RM40). Potions describes this as a blood-replenishing elixir to counter the snake's potent poison - this supremely striking cocktail is prepared to evoke the look of the snake's venom dripping into the drink, bringing a bittersweet end to a blend of sake, aperol, campari, citrus juice, fresh orange wedges and carbon dioxide.
Allow Me To Die (RM42) could be the riskiest, most brazen name for a cocktail in KL. Taking a leaf from the Dutch standard protocol for physician-assisted suicide, measured out here with Scotch blended whisky, egg white foam, lime juice, orange wedges, longan and red jujube syrup, it's served with a (faux) egg on the side, representing rebirth and hope for the next life.
Cannabis (RM35) comes smoking in swirls of dry ice, heralding trippy contents of blue curacao, Italian bitter campari, gin infused with orange skin, fresh orange juice and fresh pandan extract - while no banned substances emerge in this cocktail, it aims nonetheless to leave customers on a liquor-loving high.
There's no taboo though in Ramuan (RM45), a reference to the traditional Malaysian formulation of plants for herbal medicines. Laced with osmanthus syrup for healing properties, it's a subtly floral beverage with sencha-infused Bombay Sapphire gin, citrus juice and rose dry ice.
Moving forward, Potions hopes to rely on more Southeast Asian liqueurs and ingredients in future, so expect to see everything from Thai rum to Sarawak's tuak on the menu, similar to Potions' sister bar in Chinatown, The Deceased.
Hands down, Felix Felicis (RM40) is for patrons who favour visually memorable cocktails - again, it's a name familiar to Harry Potter fans, a nod to the Liquid Luck brew that promises good fortune. Bombay Sapphire gin is fused with Thai aromatic tea, fresh calamansi juice and stevia leaf syrup for easygoing alchemy that evokes teh o ais limau ikat tepi.
Many thanks to the Potions team for having us here.
24, Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50100 Kuala Lumpur.
Open 6pm-1am, closed Sundays. Tel: 018-200-0262
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