Blink And You’ll Miss These 8 Hidden Bars In Penang

hidden bars penang

Sure, everyone knows Penang for the char kuey teow, assam laksa, and the excess of delectable street delights. Yet, it’s also fertile ground for creative alcoholic concoctions of every kind. While the Klang Valley is widely recognised as the epicentre of Malaysian mixology, the island-state is catching up at an increasing pace, with these best hidden bars in Penang underscoring a burgeoning nightlife scene.

The Best Hidden Bars In Penang To Escape From Tourists, People & Your Regrets

Give them a shot. Or two. Or three. 

1. Backdoor Bodega

backdoor bodega hidden bar penang
Credit: @kamanc126 and @miloheng via Instagram 

Not exactly concealed since the accolades started pouring in, Backdoor Bodega is Penang’s best hidden bar and worst-kept secret. An Asia Top 100 alumni, the “overpriced pin shop” has only been in the business for 7 years and founder Koh Yung Sheng learned the chops of bartending while juggling a full-time graphic design gig. His unconventional approach to mixology brings forth a selection of unique cocktails that play on Malaysian palettes. Take the Patpoh Negroni for example, which pays homage to the ubiquitous Chinese herbal syrup with London dry gin, sweet vermouth, and Bigallet Bellambre. Or the Teh O’ Rum Limau, a cheeky rendition of the beloved mamak beverage through BOH-infused dark rum, maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse, and fresh calamansi juice. 

Address: 37, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town

Opening Hours: Thurs – Mon: 8pm – 12am

Contact: DM on social media 

Website | Facebook | Instagram 

2. Good Friends Club

good friends club penang
Credit: @goodfriendsclubpg via Instagram

Jio (Hokkien for “invite”) your besties to this hidden bar in Penang that fronts as a Chinese medicinal hall. Located right next to Backdoor Bodega (perfect for an immediate round two!), the bijou outlet is furnished with vintage wooden chairs and cabinets that will look right at home in the ‘80s. Like its neighbour, the mixologists here take Penang flavours and spin them into imaginative creations with slightly cheeky monikers, like the BBC (Best Banana Cocktail). It has banana peel-infused whisky, banana nectar, dehydrated banana skin, and splashes of lemon juice for tanginess. 

Address: 39, Jalan Gurdwara, George Town, 10300 George Town

Opening Hours:

Thurs: 8pm – 1am

Fri – Sat: 8pm – 2am

Sun – Tues: 8pm – 1am

Contact: 010-568 0527

Facebook | Instagram

3. 天下第一客棧 Magazine 63

magazine 63 hidden bar penang
Credit: @magazine_63 via Instagram 

An OG that paved the way for Penang’s hidden bar scene to flourish, Magazine 63 continues to be a busy drinking spot for locals and tourists alike. Camouflaged along a row of shophouses of old, there are no signages of any kind pointing to the entrance. Just spot the large wooden door, push, and hope it opens. The decor channels old-world China in every aspect, from the looming red lanterns to vintage ceramic bowls as drinking vessels. Try The Spicy Grave, a house favourite that iterates the iconic margarita with a chilli flake-dusted rim, dehydrated whole chilli garnish, agave, and Firewater Cinnamon Whisky to round off this fiery number. 

Address: 63, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town

Opening Hours: Tues – Sun: 8pm – 3am

Contact: 017-636 3551

Facebook | Instagram

4.  Manchu Bar

manchu bar penang
Credit: @manchupenang via Instagram 

Penang’s nightlife is anchored by the best hidden bars around the island, and one of which is this Manchurian-inspired watering hole. Finding it can be tricky, but pay attention to the small room flanked by statues with flowing red curtains on the sides. Pass through the curtains to reach an industrial wooden door, push it open, and wait for a server dressed in Manchurian clothing to serve you. Order the Penang Mule if you crave a refreshing alcoholic beverage of ginger beer, vodka, candied ginger, and lime juice. There are small bites like sweet potato fries and even dim sum to munch on if you’re feeling peckish mid-drinking. 

Address: 38 & 40, Jalan Pintal Tali, George Town, 10100 George Town

Opening Hours: Daily, 6pm – 3am

Contact: 012-500 7588

Facebook | Instagram

5. Foxhole 24

foxhole 24 mish mash hidden bar penang
Credit: @wk_boey and @foxhole_24 via Instagram

Previously known as Mish Mash, a staple in the Penang speakeasy circuit, Foxhole 24 now takes over the helm with refreshed decor and rebranded signature concoctions inspired by time periods. Order the RRW.01.127 made with dark spiced rum, Malaysian rice wine, coconut cream, pandan, pineapple, and clarified milk for a palate pleaser like no other.

Address: 24, Muntri St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town

Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: 5pm – 12.30am

Contact: 017-536 5128


6. Beso Rosado

hidden bar penang beso rosado
Credit: @wahwaheats via Instagram

Not exactly a hidden bar in Penang, but Beso Rosado deserves a mention on the list for its daring interpretation of classic cocktails. The Lucky Shot Old Fashioned is a spin on the age-old drink with bourbon, homemade cinnamon syrup, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Elsewhere, the Lychee Martini infuses the sweet fruit into an intoxicating mixture of vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Come here for the drinks but consider staying for the food as a full-stacked menu of grilled meats, pasta, and salads awaits you. 

Address: 86, Lebuh Bishop, George Town, 10200 George Town

Opening Hours:

Tues – Fri: 6pm – 12am

Sat – Sun: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 12am

Contact: 04-263 6868

Facebook | Instagram 

7. Archipelago

archipelago hidden bar penang
Credit: Archipelago via Facebook

A charming hidden bar in Penang and one of the best to emerge post-pandemic, Archipelago provides a tranquil setting for thirsty travellers to sip and socialise. Located in the courtyard of a shopfront, the space has plants on corners, a water feature, picnic tables, and an antique bar counter. Archipelago’s cocktail menu is grounded on the classics but given a slight edge with locally sourced ingredients. For instance, the beloved Hemingway Daiquiri is punchier than usual thanks to the usage of fresh local lime. Those with a penchant for caffeine will adore the Kaya Toast Kopi O, a playful take on the espresso martini using vodka, Kahlua, and espresso as the primary ingredients. Served in an old school kopitiam cup and saucer with a slice of kaya toast on the side. Sounds like the perfect breakfast beverage. 

Address: 114 Lebuh Armenian, Jln Kampung Kolam, 10200 George Town

Opening Hours: Tues – Sun: 5pm – 12am

Contact: 012-431 1013


8. Kara Kara 

kara kara penang
Credit: @karakarapg via Instagram 

Cafe by day, speakeasy by night. Kara Kara juxtaposes coffee and cocktails with such ease that you’ll be itching to return come sundown for a nightcap after your morning long black. The cocktail menu veers toward an experimental approach with equal voracity on spirits and presentation. Served in an elegant glass, the gin-leaning Barbella shines in a soothing light blue hue from the inclusion of butterfly pea flower. Separately, the Brazil 1985 hinges on Plantation OFTD rum and Amaretto for a strong boozy finish. 

Address: 5B, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town

Opening Hours:

Mon – Thurs: 2pm – 2am

Fri – Sun: 2pm – 3am

Contact: 017-270 6729

Facebook | Instagram

Revel In Penang’s Exciting Nightlife At These Best Hidden Bars 

Credit: Louis Hansel via Unsplash

So you’ve completed the food pilgrimage touring Penang’s best eating spots. Nasi kandar, check. Fancy cafes, check. Street food, check. Now all there’s left to do is unwind away from the crowd with a drink in hand at these bars! Due to limited seating, we recommend making reservations to avoid disappointment. 

For more scoops on the best places to eat, drink, and be merry in the country, check out our extensively researched Food Guides

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