Sarah Douglas heads upstairs to the third floor of La Favela Bali’s classic cocktail bar, Attika. Cocktails: Nikita Fedchishin. Images: Lucky 8.
“The past is an old armchair in the attic, the present an ominous ticking sound, and the future is anybody’s guess.” ~ James Thurber
The stairway leads me ever upwards, the music and the hum of dinner guests fade as I mount the old wooden stairs in search of yet another fascinating room in La Favela’s menagerie of spaces and objects. No matter how many times you visit, there is always something more to discover, and this time it is the attic, or Attika.
Arriving at Seminyak’s famous nightclub at 8pm may seem unusual and I’m greeted with a restaurant full of people dining. The main bar is set up with tables, the gardens beyond are also filled, twinkling lights accompany the sound of people gathering over a meal. Private rooms sparkle with conversation and an outdoor terrace deck overlooks it all.
In the evenings, La Favela is a popular restaurant and how they clear the space for the eager crowds that line up nightly to party is difficult to imagine. Needless to say, they are a well-oiled machine and it happens every night. Tonight there are over 200 diners here and my head spins at the thought of what has to happen for the nightly turnover.
However, there are spaces that cater to those who arrive early in search of a drink, ready to start the party before dinner is cleared. For them, the stairway to this heavenly loft is revealed.
Attika is a speakeasy bar fashioned after the 1920s Prohibition era. It is perched at the top of the venue, thus the name. For quite some time it was a secret hideaway where staff and management could sneak away from the enthusiastic crowds below, it became evident however that it was a secret too good not to share.
Like the club below, Attika is filled with memorabilia. The DJ booth is fashioned from an old piano. The fascination for collecting has formed this club, and all the others the LYD group have created, including La Plancha, La Brisa and La Laguna. Why create something new when old things can be recycled and are so much more interesting? Even the floors and ceilings are created from buildings of old and it all comes together in this intimate cocktail space.
The bar itself, another remnant from some retired building, is stocked to overflowing with premium spirits. The cocktail menu has no shortage of irony yet I’m not surprised to find that whisky and gin reign supreme up here. Nevertheless they are proud of their signature cocktail list and I am on a mission to try them all.
It’s not long before the nooks and crannies in this softly lit attic begin to fill. Attika has obviously been discovered, by word of mouth, or purely be accident, it’s hard to say, and aside from the early arrivals, it’s also a place where night animals can escape the pounding soundtracks and the crowds below. Attika has its own soundtrack, a soft house vibe that plays perfectly in this hideaway bar.
Well priced at Rp165,000, the bar staff are devoted to serving up a premium cocktail experience with plenty to mull over. We begin with the Attika, a tequila-based cocktail infused with cucumber, tamarind purée, orange juice and red pepper, it’s quite a statement yet cool with the cucumber which lends the cocktail a very clean flavor.
Some might suggest it’s all downhill tackling this list but instead we head up as the next cocktail is called The Elevator. Vodka mingles with apple juice, aromatics and a garnish of rosemary and cinnamon, which are fired up to add an astonishing warmth and aroma to the drink. This one is a winner.
The bar continues to fill as the bartender gets busy with his La Violetta cocktail, gin infused with kafir lime leaves, dragon fruit and a honey mead tonic. These drinks pack a real punch and the rosy glow of the bar is starting to permeate my mood.
During the evening, various members of the management drop by, this is clearly a favourite space of theirs. The GM Rossano Costella tells me that in the two years plus that he has been here, there have been a lot of changes at La Favela. “It was a matter of putting in real guidelines and training all the staff, from the door people to security, in how to handle the crowd. Drunk people are turned away, there’s a strict dress code, bad attitudes are checked at the door, and we have a strong policy of checking ID for under-age drinkers, and anyone who has too much to drink or is causing trouble is dealt with firmly but politely,” he explains.
However, I have risen above it all, closeted away in this gleaming space. Next up on my list is a Monkey Old Fashioned, which curiously is flavoured with banana and beer foam. Despite the unusual mix, this is one of my favourites.
When it comes to signature cocktails it’s not only upstairs where the bartenders get creative. Two cocktails arrive from downstairs. One is called ‘Popcorn’, garnished with a pile of popcorn, served in a paper bag.
BKK-DPS cocktail, also from La Favela’s bar menu ‘sells itself’ according to the staff. At this stage I’m seeing everything in soft focus and the soft, twinkling lighting is wrapping me in womb-like comfort.
Another reason why people make the trip up here is that La Favela stops serving their signature cocktails around midnight, there simply isn’t time to devote to artisan cocktails, so serious drinkers take to the stairs.
The cocktails follow one after another and the concept here becomes clear. The focus is on local herbs and flavours, lots of house-made infusions and elements of ice and fire add interest. I’m told the classic cocktails are also popular, espresso martinis, Aperol spritz and whisky sours make the best seller list.
It’s an astonishingly beautiful bar, or is that the cocktails talking? The combination is a winner, and I can see myself returning here again and again, it’s definitely a place for grown-ups with sophisticated palettes and those who simply want a comfortable place to call home for the evening.