The mixologist Gods of Bali have conferred blessing after blessing upon their devotees. Ondy Sweeting dips into sacred offerings. Image: Lucky 8.
THE chillax connoisseur cats that roam the bars and resorts looking for the ultimate aperitif have some mighty fine mixtures to sip
The provenance of the word cocktail has long been the subject of debate. London’s first daily newspaper – the Daily Courant – mentioned a “cock-tail” that was described as both “L’huile de Venus” and “Parfait Amour” in 1798. It must have been a freakingly outlandish party that the soon-to-be prime minister William Pitt the Younger was penning about.
A few years later in the New York-based weekly and boldly named Balance and Columbian Repository noted a drink that was “a stimulating liquor comprised of spirits of any kind – sugar, water and bitters”. And so it was, the contemporary cocktail was born.
Now, The Yak profiles some of the coolest cocktails that are available right now on the island in this ever evolving and moveable feast of fruits, herbs, ice and hard-core hooch of the very finest quality.
This perennially elegant Seminyak resort opened its beautifully carved Balinese doors 37 years ago. So it has a long and rich history from which to extrapolate its extensive cocktail offerings.
If it is traditional cocktails that you seek, do not go past the Kayu Bar in the Oberoi’s extravagantly landscaped gardens that overlook the white sandy beach. A Tom Collins? No problem. From Manhattan’s to a Mai Tai and beyond, the barmen understand heritage cocktails and every one is rendered with sublime precision and traditional integrity that produce an ideal example of the type. Then there are the transcendent libations that Oberoi mixologists develop, refine and deliver to grateful guests. Tamarind Martini, anybody? Don’t mind if I do. Observe the preparations for the Lemongrass and Passionfruit Martini. Vanilla pods and a canister of C02 zing to spawn thick and luscious foam, fragrant with vanilla and delivering a passionfruit tongue tingle that will not be quickly forgotten. This is one hell of a martini and fluently strained of organic refuse. For fruit lovers check the Strawberry Basil Roska, which is the noble muddle of its namesake with the addition of strawberry puree and freshly slapped basil. This cocktail has subtle overtones of basil, so true addicts may want to ask for more. So certain of its position in Bali, the Kayu features indigenous Arak on its cocktail list – a drink all too often shunned. Every Monday the cocktail bar has unplugged jazz and the bar snacks include an astonishingly reconstructed goats cheese canapé that has been Heston Blumenthalled into a delicacy that looks like a quail egg and bursts with a liquid fromage when put to the fang. Maybe two visits here could be wise.
www.oberoihotels.com | Yak Map. N.9
The Fairmont resort in Sanur has to be one of the easiest places to find in the beautiful town that is a labyrinth of local warungs and stylish shops. The Nyala is the resort’s bar and restaurant that overlooks a long lap pool and out over the ocean. It is easy in the extreme to lull away the hours watching waves crash on the natural inner reef that forms a type of lagoon at high tide and a wonder of rock pools when the tide is out.
The cocktails? Well, the staff is highly trained about the nuances of ingredients and taste so expect to be dazzled.
The charming Widodo suggested a Green Smash, which is a tantalising muddled number made with vodka, fresh green kiwi fruit and Midori. This is a refreshingly sweet and sour drink that goes down easily and beats the heat. It comes served in a chilled glass packed with vitamin C-replenishing fruit that will serve your body well. For those who don’t seek out a poolside sugar hit, select the Cucumber Passion, which is a curious and moorish mix of gin, peach liquor, cucumber, passion fruit, lime juice, a dash of sugar syrup and a tiny top of Sprite. The cool overtones of cucumber makes it taste like a salad in a glass but the whole passionfruit seeds that zip up the straw produce little flavour bombs that bring this concoction to life. To enjoy a bit of cocktail making participation, The Fairmont has a Berry and Ginger Mojito, which is served in a half carafe jug and comes with a cocktail shaker and strainer for a little bit of DIY assemblage and a moment as a master of mixology.
Sundara Four Seasons, Jimbaran
As apart of the stunning coastal strip of Jimbaran Bay, the Sundara restaurant is legendary on the island and this reputation is maintained by its signature cocktail: the Jim-let Fox Trot. By all appearances this drink is a classic, if upscale, gin and tonic with the addition of lime cordial. The natty iPad menus showcase the wonderful list but reveal no secrets, making the listed cocktail ripe for discovery. The Jim-Let Fox Trot is gin, cordial and four secret ingredients that the mixologist refused to reveal. These are subjected to an industrial fusion in the back-kitchen’s slushie machine, then iced to perfection. The glass is topped with tonic and presented while the condensation actually freezes onto the glass at the table. It looks like an awfully elegant science experiment and it is surely worth the trip through flooding streets. My choice is for a sublime sundowner watching the Balinese fishing boats come into land in the bay. Sundara also has the Thousand Nights – a rich yellow extravaganza that conjures exotic India. This opulent cocktail is muddled dark rum with star anise, and green cardamom with a sprinkle of saffron on top. Barcelona-based avant-garde cocktail creator, Javier de las Muelas, is Sundara’s consultant and trainer. And what a job this genius has done. His aim was to develop all-time favourites with unique refinements and secret additions so they remain unique to Sundara. The Bloom of Sundara hits this target as a shaken cocktail of Ketel One vodka, pink grapefruit, a sliver of orange, two drops of grenadine plus some guarded elements that will not be discussed. D-licious.
When it comes to the wow factor, Karma Kandara has it by the Hummer load. Perched high on the cliff of the Bukit peninsula and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, flanked by lush emerald jungles. Cocktail hunting can take place at several venues within the grounds of this darling of the forever-chic jet set dope.
Head to Nammos beach club or the cliffside Temple Lounge and Bar, which is one of the highest points of the resort and has priceless views.
The Smokin’ Spiced Rum punch will get an inner party started and put hairs on the chest of the brave. This potent mix of dark rum and apricot brandy is tempered with passionfruit puree, sugar and pineapple juice and topped with dry ice to keep it smoking’ cool. For dessert in a glass, opt for the Karma Espresso Martini which is full flavoured Arabica coffee with vodka and house made creamy caramel foam that calls for a spoon to dig in with. Locate barman Kariano to whip up a popular Paloma and brace your tastebuds for a lush blend of golden tequila, pink grapefruit, lime, sugar and topped with soda water. It is summer in a glass. Another winner in the superb taste stakes is the Smokin’ Spiced Margarita that combines spiced peppercorn tequila with spice syrup and lime juice, and is served in a glass that is crusted with crushed chilli, peppercorns and salt. A gorgeous addition to the Karma’s sour drink repertoire.
. . . is the newest beach club on the block and the only non-hotel owned beach club in delightful Nusa Dua. It’s also the 12th beach club in a chain that takes in St Barts, Cabo San Lucas, Marrakesh, Miami, Marbella and St Tropez. This luxury entertainment and lifestyle brand knows a thing or two about purveying cocktails to strange fruit like Paris Hilton, hipsters and superstar actors.
So it’s not surprising that their Signature Cocktail is a mojito. Simple, plain and totally guest led. This drink is so beloved that Nikki Beach in Marbella staged a Cuban Mojito Party. The recipe is transparent with lemon flavoured rum, fresh mint and sugar. Served in a tall chilled glass. This is a winner for a sun drenched play day on the sand. The mixologists of Nikki Beach meet every six months to exchange notes, train and create. Each location has its speciality cocktail including the Majorca Delight from Spain, which is like a non-creamy Pina Colada with subtle flavours of elderflower and Cointreau while the Phuket Sunset is a funky blend of vodka, cranberry juice and raspberry puree that explodes in your mouth like a gob full of pop rocks. Come summer we expect to see the signature Bali cocktail making its debut on the global cocktail card as the wonderful workers get mixing and muddling creations of mangosteen and other local fruits to launch onto the international Nikki Beach scene.
If you fancy a slice of Ibiza in the heat of the tropics, El Kabron is a celestial choice. Lodged into an extraordinary location at Pecatu-Uluwatu on a cliff high above the ocean, this bar and restaurant is a showstopper and so are the super sassy sangrias. El Kabron is no one-stop wonder with standard red wine sangria. El Kabron is as serious about its liquid blissouts as it is about Spanish food. Neither is taken lightly, but they should be taken often. Very often.
A revolving door of outstanding DJ’s spin their thing at this venue and create a chilled tone for a special sunset scene. Take to the floppy bean bags or sun loungers, order a jug of white sangria and be transported to that sexy Balearic Island and gaze at the infinity pool that does, in fact, appear to join the ocean. The recipe for the sangria – both red and white – is closely guarded. However, they certainly start with a good wine base and a generous splash of a high quality brandy and some cinnamon. The fruit is fresh and delicious making a jug a necessity rather than an option. El Kabron is a great place to take a swim while engaging in some Sex on the Cliff – another top secret-recipe signature cocktail. Enjoy a cool highball or even a mojito. There is nothing not to like about this uber-chic destination.
The enduring style of Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak keeps patrons coming back for more. Year after year the crack cocktail aficionados hit the bar and beach club to sample from the cleverly crafted cocktail list. Stop by for a PH20 – citrus vodka matched with Campari, orange juice, raspberries and citrus sherbet for a rejuvenating slap to the chops. The Mango Jerry is a vanilla, tequila mix with spice, sugar, honey, lime juice, mango and orange liqueur that will sate even the shiniest white sweet tooth.
The names alone are worth a read as the regulars and guests go cray cray for the Big Bang – spiced rum, passionfruit syrup, lime, mango and guava juice plus orange zest candy – or a twisted Potato Head Bloody Mary. Tropical delights await such as the Indus Nesos that perfectly showcases vanilla vodka, apricot liqueur, lychee juice and coconut cream or perhaps go for a Kupu-Kupu Batik that is a south-east Asian treat of strawberry puree, lemongrass gin, strawberry liqueur, lemon juice, vanilla sugar, ginger ale and strawberry foam.
www.ptthead.com | Yak Map.N.5