Stephanie Mee flits back in time to the roaring twenties as she imbibes the elixirs on offer at Ubud’s renowned Apéritif.
Destination dining is easy to come by in Bali, but destination drinking? That’s a whole other story. Apéritif is Ubud’s newest fine dining restaurant and bar, and it’s already setting the scene for a whole new tippling experience in Bali with opulent Art Deco vibes and innovative twists on classic cocktails.
Perched on the edge of a lush ravine in a striking white structure that evokes colonial grandeur, Apéritif is the latest addition to the award-winning Viceroy Bali. Step through the elegant glass doors and you find yourself in a grand space with gleaming black and white checkered floor tiles, supple leather armchairs, and huge arched windows that offer views over the jungle-covered ravine.
To the right of the foyer is the main dining room with glittering chandeliers, a glass-enclosed wine cellar with over 180 labels, and an open kitchen where chef Nic Vanderbeeken and his team create contemporary dishes inspired by global cuisines. However, if it’s libations you’re lusting after, make a beeline to the ornate wooden doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl to the left of the foyer.
Inspired by the Roaring Twenties, this whimsical watering hole would impress Gatsby himself. Dark green walls, gleaming copper and rich wood accents set the scene, luxurious leather armchairs and benches beckon, and a sunken C-shaped bar takes centre place. Everywhere you look there are antiques and objets d’art dating back to the Jazz Age.
Margaret Bainbridge is the managing director of the Viceroy and the creative force behind Apéritif’s unique architecture and interior design. She says, “With Apéritif I wanted to create something that hadn’t been done in Bali before. Our villas take inspiration from Bali in the 1930s, so I wanted to expand on the colonial theme with a mix of Balinese and European elements.” Everything about Apéritif was designed from scratch from the huge double-glazed windows that were imported from Italy to the leather armchairs handmade in Indonesia, and even the intricately patterned tiles that adorn the walls in the lavish bathrooms.
The fusion of East meets West can be seen in all around in items like the bone canes with Sanskrit inscriptions on the walls next to the billiards table, the antique fencing mask displayed on a wooden side table, and the brass scuba mask sitting under a wall of lockers that store premium bottles for patrons.
Margaret says, “While I had a clear vision of how I wanted the space to look, it really is ever-evolving. I’m constantly coming across items that would fit perfectly in the space and I can visualise exactly where I want them to go. When it comes to interior design, you’re never really finished decorating.”
Much like the décor, the cocktail programme also boasts a blend of Eastern and Western influences. Designed by award-winning mixologist Ran Van Ongevalle, the enticing and reasonably priced drink list features playful takes on classic cocktails. Each elixir was inspired by the Roaring Twenties and is made with artisanal spirits and house infusions.
Take for example the Apéritif 75 made with a refreshing blend of Belvedere vodka, lychee, magnolia and lemon pith and Taittinger Brut Reserve. For something on the sweeter side, the After Prohibition features Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, banana liqueur, snake fruit shrub and orange bitters.
Head bartender Borty is a master at whipping up custom creations, so bespoke bevvies are also an option. Simply let Borty and his team know your preferred flavour profile, and they can concoct you the perfect cocktail made with your choice of spirits, house made syrups, fermented fruits and spices.
If fine wines are more your style, Apéritif has you covered with an extensive selection of champagne and wines by the glass. Cool off with a crisp Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or go big and bold with a glass of Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from California. And if you’re celebrating a special occasion, a glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve
is in order.
The bar at Apéritif opens at 4pm daily, which is the perfect time to grab a drink in the cool air-conditioned lounge and watch the sun slowly set over the rice paddies in front or snag a seat on the terrace overlooking the forested ravine and enjoy a scotch and cigar. After dark the bar transforms into a softly lit space where you can enjoy postprandial drinks and catch live jazz acts every Monday and Wednesday.
Keep an eye on the Apéritif website for upcoming events like cocktail showdowns with renowned mixologists from around the world, special dining events with guest chefs, and wine tastings. FYI for those of you who are planning holiday happenings – Apéritif will be hosting a divine 10-course degustation meal for New Year’s Eve. Spots are already getting snapped up, so book soon.