Call Carol Back – CCB – Craft Beer Bar, Chinatown KL
Words: Jacob Weber
Photos: Han Sen Hau
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
There is no “Carol”.
Rather, “Call Carol Back”—a funky retro-vibes cocktail bar in Chinatown—means something else entirely.
Malaysians or seasoned expats might immediately notice the initials and chuckle to themselves at the acronym.
Others of purer hearts and minds might be left bewildered.
Because CCB stands for a particular Malaysian Chinese expression which is not something you’d use in front of your mother. (And most certainly not about your mother.)
That’s all I’m saying on the subject. I’m just here to talk about the excellent craft beer, creative cocktails and hearty bar food.
CCB Call Carol Back KL
CCB is the downstairs neighbour to Good News Pizza (also owned by the Wyld Group, of PS150 fame) — which is good news indeed after a few cocktails. The rest of CCB’s food menu is pretty good, too, but we’ll get to that later—more important things to talk about.
CCB prides itself on a fine selection of craft beers, available from the fridge, on tap, and as a surprisingly good base for creative cocktails — or ‘hops cocktails’ as they’re known here. Our host Riccardo tells us they’re a great introduction to craft brews for non-beer drinkers—or a compromise on cocktails for craft enthusiasts—and there’s a lot of fun to be had with playful combinations and unique twists on traditional recipes.
And who are we to argue with a man who takes care of the drinks menus across all of the Wyld Group’s outlets?
CCB is a laid-back bar with a bit of disco flair—there are glittering balls dangling from the ceiling and everything—and a touch of Wes Anderson about it. Funky colours, beer coasters shaped like vinyl records, furniture straight out of a 70s catalogue. Our photographer Han Sen is even looking fabulous in high-waisted flared trousers and a flamboyant shirt. (Did he call ahead to confirm the theme?)
Call Carol Back Craft Beer Menu
We settle down and get started. Like any good craft beer joint, the menu at CCB is constantly refreshing (pun intended), with five varieties on tap at any given time. When we visit, the celebrated local brewers Chill Bill are supplying the stuff in the barrels behind the taps, and their beverages will soon feature as the base for most cocktails on the upcoming menu. Monica’s eyes light up as we’re told this will focus on classic cocktails like Negronis and Old Fashioneds with a craft beer twist. I can see her making a mental note to come back soon.
CCB is also the retailer of To Øl, an innovative Danish craft brewery, to add a European flavour to its well-stocked fridge of cans and bottles from suppliers across Asia. And, earning Yum List bonus points for sustainability, most additional items in the cocktail recipes, such as syrups, are made from scratch in-house.
Our first cocktail is an Instagram Filter (RM38), which won’t be available by the time you read this, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway to give you a little taste of what creativity you can expect from these guys. Dark rum and Campari mingle with blanched syrup and house-made pineapple-infused beer; in a way, it’s a twist on the classic Jungle Bird, and in another way, it’s completely different. A punchy start with a sour finish and a tasty trip along the way.
Next up, our first introduction to To ØI’s selection: 45 Days Organic Pilsner (RM34). Lovely and light, very quaffable—which is a totally normal thing to say—with a crisp finish. Their Whirl Domination (RM38) is a fresh IPA full of aroma. Strong smell; great taste.
I’ve never heard of Gose beer (apparently, it’s of German origin and usually brewed with at least 50% malted wheat), but Gose to Hollywood (RM36) is immediately one of my favourite punny beer names. And competition is tough in the craft beer market. This variety, also by To ØI, is a salty, sour, citrusy beverage brewed with “the best fruits California can offer”, which is where the orangey edge comes from. It’s nice and light at only 3.8%.
House of Pale (RM37) is our fourth and final exclusive Danish brew, a New England Pale Ale, light and full-bodied at the same time, all crispy and juicy and delicious.
The Kizakura Kyoto Beer White Yuzu Ale (RM33) is an excellent English-style beer with a Japanese touch: smooth, refreshing and slightly sweet. The label says it’s the first craft malt beverage from the Kizakura region, so add that to your pub quiz trivia knowledge.
Bitter & Twisted (RM26) is an award-winning beer all the way from the UK’s Harviestoun Brewery. It is a nice golden ale with a crisp, fruity body and a lingering lemon finish.
Our last stop on the craft beer train is the Hong Kong Black (RM31), a powerful, rich, dark stout with layers of coffee, cacao and caramel.
Unsurprisingly, after several beers, we decided shots would be a great idea. The F Word (RM28) from the Kamikaze menu catches our eye: house-made wasabi-infused vodka with flavoured kombucha. It’s named after what you’ll involuntarily say after you knock it back, and I can personally confirm it’s appropriate.
Equally appropriate is finishing with a dessert cocktail, Lost in the Forest (RM32); again, this won’t be available at the time of print, but I’m going to celebrate its creativity anyway. Guinness and choco-Milo syrup are topped with homemade Bailey’s and stout foam to create an interesting, sweet, and strong concoction.
To soak up the booze, we also order a selection of CCB’s best bar food. The Borneo Pizza (RM36) comes hot from Good New Pizza’s wood-fired oven upstairs, with a perfect leopard-print crust. It’s excellent, chewy, and crispy in all the right places. Sarawak black pepper provides a fiery finish to complement the rich ricotta sauce and fresh mozzarella.
The Chicken Tenders (RM32)—beer-battered, of course—are a great snack and go perfectly with the accompanying cheese dip. The slow-cooked Chilli Con Carne (RM 32) is also excellent comfort food that goes well with any of the 80-plus beers available.
We weigh up another option from the Kamikaze menu, but my notes are starting to look a little messy at this point. So perhaps wisely, it’s time to head out into the Chinatown sunset.
Reasons to visit CCB – Call Carol Back: Unique hops-based cocktails with homemade ingredients and innovative interpretations on classic recipes; excellent international craft beer selection available in cans/bottles and on tap; friendly service from a well-trained staff; funky ambience with a pleasant, laid-back energy that’s rare to see in this vibrant part of town; no-nonsense-but-good-quality food menu with outstanding pizza available from upstairs.
CCB – Call Carol Back – Craft Beer Bar Chinatown KL
Ground Floor, 152, Petaling Street (next to PS150)
City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6 03 7622 8705
CCB – Call Carol Back Opening Hours
4.30 pm-1:00 am — Friday-Sunday & PH
4.30 pm-12:00 am — every other day