Gone are the days where Penang nightlife consisted of the nocturnal crowd seeking pumping, club-like atmospheres. Today, you’ll find cosy cocktail bars, chilled-out bistros and watering holes with live music at every nook and cranny in George Town.
We set out to find the coolest joints frequented by locals and visitors alike, and have narrowed down our top picks to the ones below:
Good Friends Club
When you’re driving by Jalan Gurdwara at night, it’s hard not to take notice of its neon pink signage that illuminates the entire shopfront in a photo-worthy glow. As part of the hip collection of outlets at Hin Bus Depot, this kopitiam-style bar pays homage to its coffee shop predecessor with steel roundtables, stools and a cocktail menu that stirs up nostalgia for all Malaysians.
Popular drinks include the Lao Hao Peng (nutmeg cordial) and Pat Poh Peng (herbal cordial), made boozy with shots of rum. Pro tip: Order the truffle fries if you’re having the munchies!
And what’s in the name, you ask? “Good Friends Never Bojio” is a nod to Penang’s colloquial Hokkien way of friends teasing each other when they’re not invited (bojio) to a certain gathering. So if you’re here with friends, consider them the good kind who’ll never miss you out.
Hin Bus Depot at 39, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
7pm – 1am, closed on Tuesdays
Arguably one of the pioneering new wave cocktail bars to hit the island, Mish Mash has been attracting locals and visitors with their bold selection of tipples and serious gastronomy since 2014. Housed in a heritage shop lot, its cosy yet unpretentious ambiance is everything you look for in an authentic George Town bar experience.
Feel like a beer and some greasy bar snacks? Go ahead and order them, no one’s judging. Came for a fancy cocktail or two? You’re still at the right place. The concept here is casual and all-inclusive, so you’ll see families of diners on one hand, and a sensible drinking crowd over at the bar and high tables.
24, Muntri Street, George Town, 10200 Penang
5pm – 12.30am, closed on Mondays
Out Of Nowhere
‘And out of nowhere… bam! You stumble upon this hidden gem of a bar.’ That’s the discussion we envision the owners had when brainstorming its name. Not to be mistaken for a speakeasy, Out Of Nowhere prides itself in being a hidden bar with 3 sections: a lounge, courtyard and bar. Inspiration for their cocktails is drawn from all parts of Penang, melding flavors from local cuisine and British colonial times.
One of their signature cocktails, ‘I Went Bananas’ as pictured above is a whisky sour with an Indian twist – featuring ghee fat washed Irish whisky, salted banana caramel, lemon, egg white and a tincture of Ras El Hanout, all topped off with an edible banana peel chip.
‘Into The Bahulus’, another crowd-favorite, is their take on the Malaysian classic ‘Jungle Bird’. Sip your night away on this tropical, smoky cocktail with its delicious mix of pandan rum, Mezcal, Campari, ‘bahulu’ cordial, and other zesty juices, garnished interestingly with a ‘kuih bahulu’.
So if you’re looking for an unstuffy night out with friends over a tipple or two, head on over to Out Of Nowhere.
75, Jalan Kuala Kangsar, 10100 George Town (at the back of Hold Up! cafe)
Mon – Thu 6pm – 1am, Fri – Sat 6pm – 2am, closed on Sundays
Golden Shower by Chin Chin
Forget dark and dingy bars. This next one is guaranteed to tickle you pink! Golden Shower by ChinChin is the brainchild of three culinary enthusiast Penangites, who are also the masterminds behind George Town’s notable izakaya, ChinChin Gastrobar.
The interior design, as you can see, is swept in soft pink hues with gold accents that immediately transports you into a wonderfully pristine space and state of mind. With all that sweet minimalism surrounding you, there’s no better way to savor what’s on your table.
The food and drinks equally aim to surprise, with their pinchos-style small plates that change from time to time, and a well-crafted cocktail menu made in collaboration with Wholly Spirits.
Whether you’re looking to sneak in for some flavorful bites and modern-classical cocktails post work, or go big on the weekends with your pals, we pinky promise you’ll have a good time here.
86, Lebuh Bishop, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
5.30pm – 2am, closed on Mondays
This speakeasy nails the concept of an ‘almost impossible bar to find’. The entrance is an unassuming, old-school retractable steel gate which makes you wonder if you should wander in any further. But go on and grasp in the dark a little, push your way through a wooden door to enter this 1920s Shanghai-styled bar beaming with red lanterns, oil paper umbrellas and exposed brick walls.
The sprawling interior extends all the way to the back with pockets of seating areas made cosy with oriental partitions and dim-lit walls. Music gets more thumping as the night progresses, but swing by for post-dinner drinks to catch their live band.
63, Jalan Magazine, 10300, George Town, Penang (Opposite 1st Avenue Mall)
8pm – 2am on Sun – Thu & 8pm – 3am on Fri – Sat
Thirsty to explore Penang’s eclectic nightlife yet? Check out our exciting hotel and flight deals for your next visit now!