There is no shortage of exciting watering holes at Changkat Bukit Bintang, but the seductive glow of red neon lights from one of its bars called Kill Devil might just be tempting enough to lure in your inner demons.
Beyond its brand new name and Insta-worthy walls, however, it also continues to boast Malaysia's largest selection of rums, with delicious rum-based cocktails to match.
Kill Devil used to be called The Rum Bar KL, belonging to Werner's Group, and has long carried more than 300 varieties of rum for its guests to sample.
The revamp draws inspiration from a lesser-known moniker for rum. It is said that the bar’s new name is based on an old legend about the discovery of rum by Europeans when they first landed on a Caribbean island centuries ago.
“The first guy to try it apparently yelled, ‘This is so strong it could kill the devil!’ And that’s how rum earned the nickname kill-devil,” Andreas, the marketing head for Werner's Group tells us.
In true international spirit, Kill Devil’s rums are from Central & South America, Cuba and the Latin Caribbean.
At a special media night to introduce us to the bar’s new concept and upcoming food menu, we were served two cocktails from Kill Devil’s Life Restoring/Invigorating Citrus section of the menu, as well as the bar’s take on a classic rum-based beverage.
The Bewitched Sugarcane is aptly named, because judging from its name, you may be ‘bewitched’ into thinking this is anything like the fresh sugarcane juice sold from any pasar malam (night market) street vendor.
But there is no hint of the local Malaysian thirst-quencher in Kill Devil’s Bewitched Sugarcane, which is made of Cachaca 51, lime and sugar syrup. The lightly-flavoured drink is instead sweet, sour and refreshing all at one.
What sets apart cachaca, often called Brazilian rum, is that it is made straight from the sugarcane itself, whereas rum is typically made from the by-products of the plant, such as molasses.
If you’re looking for something more complex and flavourful, Hemingway’s Ghost Daiquiri is a good bet. It uses the Brugal Extra Dry rum as it’s base, with splashes of Luxardo Maraschino (a liqueur made from marasca cherries cultivated especially by the Luxardo group), lime juice and pink grapefruit juice.
The swirling combination of sweet, bitter and sour made for drink that was easy to drink, but also left me savouring every mouthful as I tried to identify the ingredients that went into making this tasty concoction.
But of all the drinks we were treated to that night, the humble rum and coke was perhaps Kill Devil’s best kept secret.
Despite rushing through numerous drink orders, Kill Devil's bartenders whipped up a surprisingly tasty Cuba Libre. The classic cocktail was a perfect balance of sweet Coca-cola, a sour twist of lime and the all-important underlying kick of rum.
Complementing the bar’s rebranding is a new menu offering of hearty stews. Diners can choose to combine any vegetable set from a pre-arranged series - each set quirkily named after mythical/biblical angels - and different varieties of meat.
We tried a stew made of a vegetable group called ‘Gabriel’ - capsicums, potatoes, onion, tomatoes and corn - with lamb, but our favourite was the combination of ‘Michael’ - a mix of celery, leek, green beans, green asparagus, fennel and kohlrabi (turnip) that added bursts of flavour to tenderly cooked pork.
The highlight of the new food offering, however, has to be the six different levels of spicy sambals to choose from. After all, what would a bar called Kill Devil be without some fiery flavours to heat things up? Depending on your level of tolerance (or daring!) you can choose to Warm Up before increasing the heat with Hot Damn. Experiencing Hell is the fifth flavour before the spiciest of all, Final Destination.
While enjoying the good food and drinks, guests at Kill Devil also treat themselves to another great Caribbean treat - Cuban cigars, which the bar offers a wide selection of. Prepare also to be serenaded by live in-house band Los Diablos, which plays dive bar-inspired Latino, pop and glam rock music, often with the addition of a soulful saxophone or trumpet.
So the next time you’re looking for a short tropical getaway in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, consider letting down your hair and your halo at Kill Devil.