Maru Wine Bar, Shwe Taung Tan St, Lamadaw Tsp, Yangon; Phone. 09 42030 8350
First impressions aren’t always correct. This was a valuable lesson twice-learnt on a recent visit to Maru Wine Bar. Tucked down a quiet cul-de-sac, the wine bar, with its modern awnings out front, looks like it doesn’t really belong where it does. In truth, it doesn’t really but the interior is more impressive than what I initially expected.
For someone who has visited far too many “trendy” cafes in Myanmar, the large rising sun at the entrance hardly enticed me in. I was expecting to find, on entry, a soulless bar complete with loud, irritating music. Instead, it’s a classily laid out venue, the sort of traditional cocktail venue that likely hasn’t been seen in the country before, and will likely catch on as the city’s revelers looks for more and more options for their late-night entertainment.
An impressive selection of alcohols line one side of the bar, a local couple sips on cocktails one end, while Japanese businessmen chat over a few glasses of wine on the other. Like the rest of the staff, the cocktail waiter offers a beaming smile and takes my drink order. I ask him to make up something, to which he smiles and obliges and I’m led up stairs to take a seat.
The upstairs area is an intimate, nicely designed spot. This being midweek, it was empty but it strikes you as a good spot for a large group at the weekend. Again, the music is calm and enjoyable without a hint of pretence.
For such a pleasant wine and cocktail bar, the Maru Wine Bar does lack one thing, a signature cocktail – offering generally the go-to drinks such as Tequila Sunrises and Cuba Libres, all for a reasonable 5,000 kyat – and when I’m brought my “specially made” cocktail, it’s my second case of incorrectly judging a thing on first glance.
The cocktail is brought in a slim – and, it must be said – feminine looking glass, of which the contents are a reddish-pink.
“What’s this?” I ask the waiter.
He calls it a Paint Gin, but after a few attempts at spelling it, I come to the conclusion that this is a translation issue. Whatever the name, it’s made of London Dry Gin, lime juice, grenadine and crushed ice and while it’s a little sweet, it’s much less so than I would’ve believed it to be and very enjoyable.