WHO: Executive chef Gaetan Christopher Beisuz, and bartender Agus Andika Pratama
AT: The Writers Bar, Raffles Bali
WHERE: Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera No.1A, Jimbaran, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Opened in Jul 2019, The Writers Bar at Raffles Bali seeks inspiration from rich local Balinese ingredients as it navigates its way to creating its unique identity. The bar team comprises seasoned Balinese professionals, including executive chef Gaetan Beisuz (locally known as Chef G) and bartender Agus Andika. Agus gained his stripes at top establishments like Ku De Ta and Sundara bar at Four Seaons Bali Jimbaran, while Chef G, originally from Lyon, France, honed his craft all over Asia.
THE ARAK ENTHUSIAST
The Balinese arak is a clear alcoholic drink distilled from rice or coconut juice at 20% to 50% ABV. Agus, an avid arak enthusiast and distiller shares, “Every village of Bali makes arrack, and has a different taste.” Arak appears in a few cocktails alongside Balinese produce such as dragon fruit, galangal, snake fruit, Balinese long pepper and native Bedugul strawberry, which are used as ingredients and garnishes.
LE TROU NORMAND
Chef G interpreted the gastronomical French tradition of Le Trou Normand in Bali. “In Normandy, France, there is a custom to have a trou (hole) when having a long meal to help clean the palate before the next course, as well as aid digestion to be able to continue the meal,” he explains. Spirits like Calvados, Armagnac or even Chartreuse are offered and matched with a sorbet or ice cream.
In Bali, he has monikered it Le Trou Balinais, where arak infusions are offered as little interludes during long brunches. “Instead of the single spirit with sorbet, we create a new arak infusion every week with herbs, spices and fruit, and this is served in a rock glass with crystal clear ice.”
Agus champions the infusions and creates yin and yang combinations like snake fruit and lemongrass, tamarillo and celery.
The terrace garden is a source of creativity. In addition to the herbs and spices, the indigo-hued telang flowers (butterfly pea) are brought in to lend their vibrant blue to neutral spirits. Soon, the team will harvest their first batch of stingless honey. “It is a lot of fun to work with stingless honey for cocktails and beverages because it brings in both acidity and sweetness,” Chef G shares.
JOURNEY OF NGIAM THOON BOOM
Legendary bartender Ngiam Tong Boon and his travels in the 19th century form the basis of The Writers Bar menu. A map plots his journey from his native Vietnam to Singapore, where he is said to have created Singapore Sling in 1915. The Bali Sling pays homage to Singapore Sling, but as Chef G explains, “Bali Sling is not a part of Ngiam Thoon Boom. We created a bit of a gimmick here with the name of our previous bartender, Nando Boon.”
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Come November, Agus and Chef G are looking to launch a new menu just in time for the festive season. “The idea is not to divert from the first concept because I think it’s very important for us to remain true to who we are”, says Chef G. They will continue to retrace his journey with a broader selection of spirits.