1930’s Bali has a rich history, one could say that it was the decade that introduced this obscure little island to the world. Inspired by certain figures of this charming yet pivotal past, Panji Wisrawan, Head Mixologist of Aperitif Bar, has thoughtfully created the Cocktail Anthology, a drinks list that invokes the magic of this history through mixology.
For those who have been to Apéritif Restaurant and Bar up in Ubud have experienced the decadence of this Bali fine dining venue. Housed in an impressive, all-white colonial building, both its façade and interiors channel a bygone era, the polished stylings of the 1920s and 30s. The past-inspired décor is accentuated by authentic period photographs that depict the last Dutch – Indonesian Viceroys of Bali and Yogyakarta found throughout the venue.
Aperitif Bar is its own little world, a sophisticated venue of dark woods and plush leather sofas, with a grand-piano and snooker table adding to the already handsome ambience. Outside, an open deck looks out to an Ubud river valley — the Bali touch.
Back inside, Head Mixologist Panji Wisrawan is a master behind the bar; and lucky for him, Aperitif is a venue where patrons are truly mindful of what’s in their glass, appreciating the thought and expertise that goes into each drink.
It’s not easy to make an original cocktail. The best mixologists — like chefs and artists — go through painstaking processes to nail down a concept or inspiration, then further processes to develop the recipe and presentation. It is most definitely an art.
With the newly released Cocktail Anthology, Panji has managed to find the perfect overlap of ‘Aperitif’ and ‘Bali’, visiting the decade that inspired the restaurant but in the context of Bali. The 30s was a renaissance period for the island, with only a few hundred visitors a year, it was more of a community of artists, intellectuals and adventurers, enthralled by the wildly unfamiliar yet exuberant culture and way of life.
There was a handful of visiting foreigners in that time who became the chroniclers, the translators and the broadcasters of Bali to the world; their works and influence were pivotal in the understanding and development of the Bali we see today. These people are at the centre of inspiration for Panji Wisrawan’s Cocktail Anthology.
Cocktail Anthology: The Drinks List
Inspiration: Margaret Mead | Cocktail Character: Bright & Elegant
Margareth Mead is an anthropologist who retreated to a village in Bali called Bayung Gede, located in the island’s central highlands. She documented 200 photographs from 1936 to 1939 where she vividly captured the everyday lives of the men, women, and children of Bayung Gede, their homes, and their temples
Ingredients: Pineapple Rum, Sichuan Baiju, Lacto Grapefruit, Hibiscus Maraschino, Strawberry, Lime
Inspiration: Vicki Baum | Cocktail Character: Fruity & Spicy
Vicky Baum weaved the stories of the Balinese of the day – from peasants and nobles to slaves and mystics – into an engaging narrative. Daily village life, customs and rites of the peaceful and deeply spiritual Balinese are described in great detail, capturing the essence of a critical event in Balinese history, which earned the Dutch worldwide condemnation.
Ingredients: Aji Limo Tequila, Mezcal Joven, Huacatay, Passion Fruit, Avocado Oil, Chocolate Bitter
Inspiration: Colin McPhee | Cocktail Character: Smoky & Bold
Colin McPhee was the first Western composer to make an ethnomusicological study of Bali. He studied with Edgard Varèse before marrying (and eventually divorcing) Jane Belo and moving to Bali, where McPhee’s imagination was captured by the gamelan.
Ingredients: Blended Malt, Mezcal Joven, Nusantara Cold Brew, Fernet Branca, Caramel Vinegar, Pandan, Recycle Coffee Incense
Inspiration: Walter Spies | Cocktail Character: Silky & Complex Sipper
Walter Spies (1895-1942) was a Moscow-born, German artist who settled in the colonial Dutch East Indies from 1923. He influenced the direction of Balinese art through Pita Maha, an artist cooperative to provide guidance to local painters.
Ingredients: Blended Malt, Spiced Rum, Bali Organic Coffee, Passion Fruit, Lemongrass, Bay Leaf, Coconut, Pandan
Inspiration: Miguel Covarrubias | Cocktail Character: Creamy & Punchy
The Illustrator captures the spirit of Miguel Covarrubias who in 1930 was captivated by the beauty and culture of the island. His relentless pursuit for inspiration to create art is inspired in a cocktail that evokes the artist’s colourful past.
Ingredients: Spiced Rum, Tequila Reposado, Amaretto, Cold Brew Liqueur, Cashew Nut Atole, Citrus, Nutmeg, Pepparkakor
Through this nostalgic cocktail menu, guests can invoke the whimsical and rich past of these extraordinary characters from Bali’s history. More importantly, the drinks themselves become an introduction to a history that guests may not know yet, sparking a curiosity that may inspire them delve deeper into the rich past of this island. Panji shared, “Indonesia’s first President, Pak Soekarno once said: JASMERAH, “Jangan Sekali-sekali Melupakan Sejarah” or “Don’t ever forget your history.”
Aperitif Bar is open from 4PM until late every night.
Aperitif Restaurant and Bar
Jl. Lanyahan, Banjar Nagi, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552