Tiga Cocktail Bar Ipoh
In days past, properties in Ipoh often had an upstairs residence, a shopfront on the main street and a back lane entrance. The backstreet room was frequently rented out for additional income and housed many a tasty noodle and soup bar. These back-alley establishments are the inspiration for Tiga Cocktail Bar in Ipoh.
Walk down Market Lane (which is said to be Ipoh’s third Concubine Lane) and look for a black and white sign with the opening hours for dé Cafe & Rest House. Take the wooden path, lined with moss and hanging vines, to the end. Turn left and the door to Tiga is about halfway further down again on the left.
Tiga Cocktail Bar is furnished with odd bits and pieces from the past. Its dim lighting, however, means the central focus is the bar with its warmly lit wall making all the bottles glow. It’s also our favourite seat as we enjoy hearing the stories of the bartenders and to watch the cocktail making action.
Founder Sunny says it was his first venture in food and beverage (he has since set up Kiki-Lalat and Asip, beer and wine bars respectively). Returning after several years of work abroad he was looking for a place to hang out, drink and talk. With a love of hidden bars and noting a gap in the Ipoh market, he dreamed up Tiga.
Tiga Cocktail Bar Menu
Bartenders, James and JD, attend to us tonight and introduce the menu of experimental cocktails. Divided into sections, it highlights three techniques for making drinks – built, shaken and stirred.
Fizzy and Built
If you’re planning on settling in for the night, I suggest working your way through the compilation starting with the Fizzy and Built section. These are low ABV beverages and easy drinking.
Seazy Breezy (RM 36) makes a savoury start with its umami flavours and taste of the sea. The pandan soda that launches the build is made on the spot, getting double points and extra fizz! Spiced apple syrup, made in-house, comes next and the drink is finished off with seaweed-infused Scotch whisky. Garnished with a pandan leaf that is burned just before serving and a dehydrated apple with cinnamon powder on top, we’re enticed by the scent even before the palate.
What turns out to be hubby’s favourite beverage is the Summer Remedy (RM 36). It’s fruity, earthy, refreshing and so darn pretty. A garnish of lotus root, lemon peel and thyme adorn jujube gin, burdock root umeshu and winter melon soda. The light effervescence and natural fruitiness make it great hot-weather drinking.
Citrusy and Shaken
In the middle of Tiga Cocktail Bar’s menu, you’ll find drinks that lift the intensity a touch, with medium levels of alcohol. Generally, they’re described as sweet, sour and appetizing.
Fruit To Thrill (RM 36) is a twist on a Margarita and fills the mouth with a deep flavour of berries. It features strawberry tequila, fino sherry, osmanthus syrup, tomato shrub and lemon. It produces a fruity beverage with a whisper of floral and savoury. All spirit infusions are made in-house and you can actually buy 500ml bottles to take home if you so wish. This drink is shaken over ice and served in a Nick and Nora glass. (* Fun fact: the glass is so-named because the main characters in the 1930s film, The Thin Man, drink out of these glasses, a lot.) Instead of regular salt, Dorito chips are reduced to powder and used on the rim. Do try sipping it both clean and with the dusting.
Lovers of peanut butter and jelly must try the Buttery N I Know It (RM 36). The first impression is a warm, comforting feel due to the heated peanut butter foam on top. Underneath there are cool jelly flavours. It’s nutty, fruity, citrusy, hot and cold, and lip-smackingly yum.
Spirit-Forward and Stirred
The final section offers spirit-forward drinks – think Negroni in style. Our last sipper is the Smokey Grail (RM 38), a twist on a Manhattan and Sazerac. It’s a stirred drink served in a bottle to entrap the smoky crown and poured over a cube of ice when ready for consumption. Smoked Mount Gay dark rum, rooibos tea-infused vermouth, apricot liqueur and a dash of absinthe construct layer after layer of complexity. From the nose to the mouth, there’s so much going on – sweet, tart, oaky and smoky.
Tiga Cocktail Bar Review
Tiga Cocktail Bar is well-worth tracking down. From the charming setting to the knowledgeable bartenders who work with speed and finesse, to the creative craft cocktails, it’s a complete experience that is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Ipoh.
Reasons to visit Tiga Cocktail Bar Ipoh: love the entrance, setting and story behind it; knowledgeable bartenders who work with speed and finesse; for something light and fizzy try the Summer Remedy; peanut butter lovers would do well to sample the Buttery N I Know It; and those looking for deep, dark complexity should give the Smokey Grail an order.
Tiga Bar Opening Hours
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 7 pm – 1 am
Friday & Saturday: 6 pm – 2 am