In Indonesia's teeming capital, a thirst for excellent cocktails can be easily quenched. Over the past few years, local mixologists and bar owners have been upping the ante, making the drinking scene a thrilling one.
From bars doling out Asian-inspired concoctions to twists on the time-tested classics, here are ten bars in Jakarta well worth checking out.
Attarine: superbly crafted cocktails at a neighbourhood gem
With a chilled Californian vibe, Attarine (attarine.com) stands out among the trendy hangouts of Jakarta's Senopati area. This neighborhood spot is big on natural elements – wooden tables and benches fill the space, and potted plants dangle from ceiling. There's even a fresh produce car standing in the middle of the room. The restaurant serves modern, unpretentious grub inspired by the legendary spice route, with a drinks list that fittingly reflects this. A Bloody Mary gets an Indonesian twist with local rawit chilli and a coffee martini is blended with espresso from local roasters.
E&O: fruity drinks and Southeast Asian bites
Conveniently situated in the happening district of Mega Kuningan, E&O (eandojakarta.com) is a great place to kick off a big night. Start with an aperitif: the Cucumber Collins is a refreshing little number and works wonders to cool off a plate of spicy Southeast Asian fare. Catch a seat barside to watch award-winning liquor masters in action as they mix Asian-inspired tipples using the best local ingredients and fresh tropical fruits.
FUJIN: handcrafted Japanese cocktails
At FUJIN (fujin-id.com) bespoke whiskey-based cocktails are the drawcards, with visiting international mixologists on regular rotation. The drinks repertoire includes a selection of refined highballs and concoctions such as the flambéed Gomme Kyoto made with whisky, orange bitter, and gomme syrup. Line your stomach with a selection of Japanese tapas and teppanyaki cooked right before your eyes before moving on to the harder stuff – there’s everything from umeshu (plum wine), top-shelf Japanese whiskey, craft beer and of course, sake, to sample.
J. Sparrow's Bar & Grill: outstanding rum-based cocktails
Housed in the heart of the Kuningan district, J. Sparrow's (jsparrows.com) is a relaxed yet refined venue with swish art deco interiors and high ceilings. An ode to a certain debaucherous pirate, J. Sparrow's fittingly excels in top-shelf bottles of rum (a Jakarta first!) and stunning seafood dishes. Splash out on an outstanding selection of rum-based tipples, and make sure to try the house special, J. Sparrow, a mix of gunpowder-infused rum shaken with gin, lime and mint syrup. If that doesn’t suit, fret not, the experts behind the bar will happily mix something more to your taste.
LOLA: a hidden speakeasy with South American spirit
Whiskey speakeasies are generally the trend in Jakarta, but LOLA (lolajkt.com) takes a new approach with South American flair. This tucked-away drinking den is entered through a black, signage-free door on the side of a building on Jalan Gunawarman. Head downstairs where luscious libations await. Killer live music by popular local cover bands set the mood for the intimate room, while the mix-masters behind the bar dream up fun and daring drinks like their Diablo Popsicle, a tequila-based cocktail with chilli powder and an actual popsicle, all served in a tiki cup (colourful plastic umbrella and all!).
Twisted classics at award-winning bar Union
Classic cocktails are celebrated as a house specialty at Union (unionjkt.com), and made even better when done with a twist. The New York-style brasserie has an infectious energy and award-winning mixologists who whip up bespoke beverages with skillful finesse. This is a great place to try a Pletok cocktail – Indonesia’s first president’s alcoholic beverage of choice. For a burst of nostalgia try Union’s signature Pop Rocks Martini, a crackling delight with actual popping candy lining the glass.
VIEW at Fairmont: stunning cocktails and even better view
For inventive cocktails with sophisticated surrounds, VIEW at Fairmont (fairmont.com) is a stylish rooftop bar that pulls out all the stops. Bespoke cocktails are at another level with concoctions brewed with house-made liquor infusions using ingredients like pandan leaves and jasmine tea. To soak up your drinks, graze on the equally appetizing five- or seven-course tasting menus.
Potato Head: cocktails with an Asian twist
From a Jakartan Bloody Mary for brunch to its best-selling aloe vera and pandan martini at night, Potato Head Jakarta (pttjakarta.com) is one of the CBD's most iconic venues for cocktail connoisseurs. With celebrated mixologist Dre Masso at the helm, there’s a fine craftsmanship that goes into each drink; the menu tends towards classic combos with a creative Asian twist. Its central location, and fun, easy-going vibes makes Potato Head a sanctuary for office workers, and a favourite for locals and visitors alike.
Cork & Screw: tailored drinks in the CBD
With two equally bustling locations, Cork & Screw (corknscrewjkt.com) is just the ticket for late nights and strong liquor. The after-work crowd mingles with those dressed to the nines to sip killer cocktails – from the classics to the creative – and wines from a 300-strong wine list. Cork & Screw specialises in using fresh ingredients fit for the city’s tropical climate: a draught of the Pistachio Lemon Sorbet cocktail made with limoncello, pistachio-infused vermouth and homemade lemon sorbet, will refresh where other drinks fail.
A-grade cocktails at Loewy
Modeled on a French bistro by way of New York, Loewy (loewyjakarta.com) aims for a buzzy yet informal vibe, and is much loved by locals and visitors for it. Nab a cozy leather booth, or otherwise head straight to the bar and choose from a cocktail list that is divided in to sections for 'classic and twisted', 'signature', 'fresh and tropical' and 'spritz'. You'll be guaranteed a beautiful fusion of flavours.