Expert mixology at Le Bar Sofitel Bali!
Words: Kirsten Durward Photos: Monica Tindall
The chic ambience of Le Bar at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, is delightful of an early evening, with spectacular views of the rooftop garden and the endless sea and sky beyond. We are curious to find out more about the zero-waste concept outlined in the cocktail menu and taste more of resident mixologist Wirawan’s originality and flair. Having tasted his flirtatious tropical poolside cocktails at L’Oh, we are breathless with anticipation for what he will whisk up for us tonight.
Craft Cocktails Nusa Dua
To start with, Arak Salacca (IDR 130,000 ++) is served in a glass which is actually a recycled wine bottle base. And there is not a straw in site to aid our sipping, just brown paper wrapping the glass so that our fingers don’t slip. Salacca or Salak is the local term for snake fruit, and Wirawan recounts how he was inspired by memories of his grandfather climbing salacca trees to take the fruit for his arak distillery. For his Sofitel signature, he presses unused fruit from the kitchen covering it in orange peel and sugar for four days to make the citrussy cordial. Blended with premium Arak Barong, the addition of homemade cinnamon syrup gives a little caramelized spice to the drink, culminating in a sour-sweet taste sensation that we both instantly adore. Expect the unexpected from a Wirawan creation.
Jamu Blossom (IDR 120,000 ++) is inspired by another childhood inspired memory. Wirawan recalls a lady in the village who made and sold the traditional Indonesian energy drink Jamu from turmeric and sugars. It was a drink he adored and says made him feel alive. Embracing the zero waste concept, the citrusy syrup is developed from turmeric and orange peelings with the addition of honey for a little sweetness. In this spin on local tradition, Wirawan adds a twist of margarita to create the ‘soul’ of the cocktail, to the hand made turmeric syrup. A spritz of homemade rose water as it is served gives a blossomy fragrance to open the senses. On tasting, the zingy turmeric and citrus flavours are forward, but what lingers behind is the margarita twist. Another Yum at Le Bar!
Pandan Tini (IDR 150,000 ++) once again embraces the zero-waste concept, as leftover pandan leaves from the kitchen are fermented with citrus peels and sugar, to develop a unique syrup. Blended with vodka, orange liqueur and fresh lychee crush, the pandan flavour underpins yet another beautifully balanced drink. It’s sweet, sour and citrusy, with just a hint of the syrup lingering in the mouth as a surprisingly refreshing aftertaste.
‘A cocktail experience like no other’ – Le Bar Sofitel Bali
Exotic Seaside (IDR 120,000 ++) is an apt name for a signature cocktail at this tropical beachfront resort. As we can see a glimpse of the blue waters of the Badung Straits beyond the cascading pools and luscious foliage that dominates our views, we are refreshed with another carefully crafted long drink. The idea came when he first arrived at Sofitel. After walking the beach, he found an overflow of seasonal mangosteen in the kitchen, and thought, ‘Let’s invent a drink!’ Tarragon syrup is the sweetly refreshing opening taste. Then apricot brandy adds depth and resonance, with a cheeky lemon pop to finish. The accompanying mint jelly is to be sipped together with each mouthful of the concoction, taking the taste profile to another dimension. The after taste is slightly reminiscent of a mojito but far more elegant. On the menu, Exotic Seaside is described as a cocktail experience like no other, and I have to agree. Wirawan’s imagination apparently knows no bounds, but what is exceptional is the way he can put completely divergent flavours together and make them work in a perfectly balanced drink.
Coriander is a herb I usually prefer in soup or on really good chilli, but we have learned that Wirawan has a knack for deriving deliciousness from unusual flavours, so we remain open-minded when tasting Le Coriander (IDR 130,000 ++). An exotic twist on a gin cocktail, it is an intriguing savoury-sour taste with a fluffy, not quite creamy texture. Oleo Cilantro is created in the favoured method of layering citrus peel and sugar over the withered herb, extracting the essence with citrusy overtones. This, blended with orange liqueur, gin and lime, makes it another Sofitel signature sensation.
Our final drink of the evening is Nutty Cacao (IDR 170,000). Actually, I have to confess to requesting this one, because I have found it hard to find a great cocktail with Cognac, and I was curious to see how the described flavours would blend. Arriving with a little spiced smoke drama, it looks like something we will enjoy wrapping our lips around. The top notes are from the house-made chocolate bitters draws and the cacao hazelnut liqueur, then rounding out to the VSOP deeper flavours, and finishing with a lingering taste of cinnamon. Nutty Cacao could be quite more-ish, particularly on a cooler day with a side of espresso.
Once again we have thoroughly enjoyed tasting these original and well-blended cocktails. Creativity is not hard to find, but keeping the novel in balance with enjoyable drinking is surprisingly rare. Here at Le Bar, you find that rarity – a mixologist with playful creativity, and genuine understanding of flavour. His dedication to sustainability simply adds a little extra sparkle to his accomplishments.
Reasons to visit Le Bar Sofitel Bali: elegant ambience, restful views, superbly crafted cocktails