Be­hind the bar of The Smoke House at The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur, the vin­tage cock­tails - and the per­son­able bar­man who makes them — have an in­trigu­ing tale to tell

Be­hind the bar of The Smoke House at The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur, the vin­tage cock­tails - and the per­son­able bar­man who makes them - have an in­trigu­ing tale to tell.

YTL Life - - Contents - RENYI LIM

T Words he mo­ment you step into the 1930s sur­round­ings of The Smoke House at The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur, you’re in for a taste of the past. Ask for John­nie the Bar­man in his recog­nis­able white jacket, who has been at The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel for seven years, stir­ring and shak­ing a mul­ti­tude of con­coc­tions steeped in South­east Asia’s sur­pris­ingly rich cock­tail his­tory. As he says with a wry wink: “Any­one can make a cock­tail – but in or­der to main­tain its orig­i­nal­ity, the el­e­ment of sto­ry­telling has to be strong.”

This is per­haps most ev­i­dent in the ho­tel’s most fa­mous cock­tail: Code 55 and 2 Bu­lat, which looks de­cep­tively mod­ern thanks to its test tubes of gin and whisky. The drink, which comes topped up with beer and le­mon­ade, car­ries more than a whiff of scan­dal about it. The story dates back to the days of the orig­i­nal Ho­tel Ma­jes­tic, when an en­raged wife, who had found her hus­band in the din­ing hall with an­other woman, re­quested a “Code 55 and 2 Bu­lat” from the bar­man when he asked for her drink or­der. It was only af­ter the un­for­tu­nate hus­band had man­aged to smug­gle his din­ing com­pan­ion out of the hall – with­out any blood be­ing spilled – that the per­plexed bar­man re­alised the wife had called for a “Colt 55 and two bul­lets”.

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