2018 cocktail trends bring us closer to the kitchen, the garden and the sea. With bartenders juggling more than shakers, wood, fire, earth and sustainable ingredients shift tastes towards health and wellness to transform menus. We sampled a few (hic).
FRUIT, VEGETABLES AND HERBS. Alila Hotels and Resorts.
Sustainability is a concept that is now mainstream and when it comes to cocktails, Alila incorporates ingredients sourced from their organic gardens into their list where possible and also takes inspiration from their locations.
Alila Seminyak’s beachfront location plays to the growing trend towards health and wellness, even in cocktails. Most popular on their beach bar list is a coconut and lime martini, fresh, delicious, healthy and local. It’s a creamy cocktail that even vegans can enjoy, a definite consideration these days. Billy’s Mojito (ask the bartender) is a vibrant long drink based on rum that owes its brilliant colour to beetroot with a hint of cardamom to add interest. The trend towards artisan gin continues and Alila Seminyak dedicates a whole section of the menu to gin cocktails and steps it up with a beautiful, natural tonic water that is full of organic botanicals and sweetened with natural sugar cane, another popular trend this year.
Alila Ubud takes its inspiration from the flower gardens on the pretty hill property. Their signature cocktail, Hibiscus Petal, is created with petal-infused vodka, mingled with lime and mint. The popular blooms are also used to create a syrup that is used in both hot and cold tea.
Alila Manggis is perhaps earthier than its sister resort on the Seminyak coast and their signature cocktail uses roots that are popular in traditional Balinese tonics, like the jamu kunyit. Ginger and turmeric mingle with local limes to create cocktails with interest and a sense of place at Alila Manggis.
The trend towards more creative cocktails continues as bartenders search for ways to stand out from the crowd and adjust to lifestyle factors. From the five star resorts to fashionable speakeasy-style cocktail bars, mixologists across Bali have their eye on the next big thing.
COCKTAILS ON TAP. Kiln/Ulu Cliffhouse
Prepared cocktails rarely have the impact of a drink that is freshly made to order. Until now that is. We were introduced to cocktails on tap at Kiln in Seminyak and then at Ulu Cliffhouse. Their menu currently features three beautifully crafted cocktails that are cheeky reminders of the classics they resemble. First up is The Mule; vodka mulled with fresh young ginger juice, charred lime and aromatic bitters in a flavourful, citrus cocktail. Next up is the tongue-firmly-in-cheek Gin N Chronic; a blend of gin, black lime, clove and nutmeg-infused tonic. The pick of the bunch though is the sublime take on a Piña Colada. White rum is infused with pineapple, coconut water and lime to create a clear base which is then topped with a billowing cloud of coconut marshmallow that is finished with a quick burst of fire before a final dehydrated pineapple fan is added to garnish. The tap has been designed and built for this purpose, transforming the three classic drinks into something divinely different.
The smokehouse concept has played out for decades in the Southern states of America and hit Bali big time in the last couple of years. Popular smokehouses include Salazon in Seminyak and Goodwood in Canggu. Infusing cocktails with smoke is a trend that seems destined to stay and often mirrors the food menu in an interesting way. Apart from the distinctive taste, preparing the cocktail adds a theatrical element that brings out the showmen, and women, amongst our mixers. Bistrot has included a smoky old-fashioned to their new drinks list. A beautiful cut crystal decanter is filled with bourbon and then a fiery stick of coffee wood fills the decanter. The smoke infuses the bourbon before it is poured over ice with a lick of bitter orange peel to create a drink that works just as beautifully with food as it does on its own. Salazon offers the smoke-infused cocktails as part of their old fashioned and negroni menu prepared to order at the table by a mobile barman. It’s a little flashy but works well with the meaty menu and the grand interior.
SPICE IT UP. Chai’ba
Chai’ba opened in Seminyak at the end of last year and made an impact with its modern take on authentic Indian dishes. Chef/owner Viraj Bhammer, or VB as he likes to be known, has taken the concept into the bar as well, adding flare and flavour to classic cocktails with a carefully crafted list by celebrity bartender Carson Quinn. Incorporating turmeric root juice into an espresso martini adds a layer of complexity to the popular cocktail that is subtle yet adds a bitter note that balances the sweetness perfectly. The Calcutta sour plays with the classic whisky sour and adds mace, a popular ingredient in Indian cooking, to add depth and spice to the cocktail that maintains the integrity of the original recipe.