Fondly known as Bali’s “King of Cocktails” for his original, one-of-a-kind concoctions, Raka Ambarawan, is known as the go-to Balinese barman for a killer cocktail on the island.
Ambarawan is the owner and mixologist-in-chief at one of Bali’s top bars, the Night Rooster (which last year earned itself a spot on Asia’s 50 Best). Destined for greatness, the bar is the offspring of the legendary Locavore, an Ubud restaurant widely regarded as one of the best in Bali.
When on duty, Ambarawan plays with premium spirits, local fruits, herbs, vegetables, and spices to mix up some seriously exciting, complex cocktails, usually heavily influenced by Indonesian flavors.
His favorite of his own creations at the moment? The “Stop Being Sweet”, a drink made with boni (local seasonal berries), chili syrup, Campari, and gin, then served with fresh hibiscus and chocolate bitters.
“The inspiration for the cocktail is rujak boni (spicy, sour traditional fruit salad),” Ambarawan tells Coconuts Bali.
Ambarawan’s got a backstage pass to a restaurant that has a notoriously long wait list (where even the late Indonesian food critic Bondan Winarno once told us he had to book ahead like everyone else). And although Ambarawan never gets sick of his all-time favorite Locavore dish, the tangy hot and cold Bloody Mary soup, even he needs a night out on the town every once in awhile.
So where does someone used to sustaining himself on Locavore and Night Rooster go for a night of drinking and eating?
Coconuts Bali caught up with Ambarawan to get the inside scoop on where the King of Cocktails likes to go for a tipple. And because all that drinking inevitably gave us the munchies, we also had Ambarawan share his favorite stops for late night street eats. You’re welcome.
— DRINK —
Every time I go there, usually just let Ferry (the bartender) decide and then we just talk about our guests and new projects.
Jl. Sri Wedari no. 5, Ubud
I go there and usually order Boulevardier (switch out the gin in a Negroni for rye whiskey) and have a small chat with Elias and Koming. Talk about how things going in Ubud and share some ideas in between.
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud
Since this place is quite far from Ubud, I take Jeni (my bartender) on Sunday (our day off) and we go to all of our friends’ places for bar-hopping, like Bikini, Indigo, Frestro, 40 Thieves and Katamama, just to name a few. Then we finish up with a Bulleit pickleback (whiskey mixed with pickle juice).
— EAT —
Soto ceker (chicken feet soup) in Pasar Gianyar. It’s always great for a hangover — hot and spicy.
Sate ayam (chicken satay) on Jl. Raya Mas — I like it because the satay is fresh from the grill and served with peanut sauce. Plus, it’s the only satay open till late.
Nasi Padang, the only type of place open 24 hours. And it also has a lot of meat, fish and vegetable options. I always order beef rendang and sambal hijau with extra rendang sauce.
Editor’s Note: our editorial staff have edited Ambarawan’s written responses for clarity.