Words: Kirsten Durward Photos: Monica Tindall
Meaning beautiful in Sanskrit, Sundara is aptly named, with a panoramic view of Jimbaran Bay, taking advantage of the melting Balinese sunsets. A plethora of divine nooks to relax into, friendly, intuitive service, and a menu full of palate pleasers, Sundara encapsulates every nuance of meaning in the word.
We’ve been hunting for the best cocktails in Bali, and this is our second to last chance on this trip. Already I’m in love with the location. Sit in the soft light of a cloudy sunset with the whispery waves gently lapping on the beach below. Gently upbeat ambient music, snippets of happy chatter and girlish giggling all blend with the drifting sound of the waves on the beach. We feel very sophisticated, yet also relaxed with afternoon visitors still enjoying the delights of the infinity pool along the beachfront. Plenty of soft terrace seating abounds in the open air; a peek into the restaurant shows a restrained golden elegance. Take your pick of delightful experiences to enjoy in this stunning location; afternoon sunbathing, all day al fresco menu, sunset drinks or a la carte dining. Or indulge yourself with all of it.
Service at Sundara is impeccable; as soon as we are seated, we’re handed cold towels with the drinks menu, while puffs of peanut crackers appear as if from nowhere. I spot some interesting and original options on the cocktail menu. Drinks have evolved so much since my student bartending days in Edinburgh, where my most adventurous playing resulted in an Irish Black Russian. I do like my taste-buds to be challenged by something new and inspiring, and I am hopeful that this evening will do just that. Sundara flew in top Spanish Mixologist Javier de las Muelas, world renowned for his cocktail creations, and we are both excited to see what he has dreamed up for this spectacular location.
Glorious hand-arounds of tapas appear from all sides. First comes Chorizo wrapped around a sour pickle, mmm that was so good I have to have another one. Next is Tuna Sashimi with Edamame on a peanut cracker, what a yummy snack! I note it for my own future entertaining. Sunset drinks at Sundara are always accompanied by these taste tickling tapas teasers, which are miniature representations of dishes on the restaurant menu, in hope of tempting you in for a meal. I’m already sold. Throughout the night more appear, including tempting Sushi, Spicy Tuna Roll with almonds, Salmon Roll with avocado, and the best tapas taste of the night – Duck Terrine with home made chutney. Wow!
Tapas – Chorizo and Pickle
The signature cocktail, Bloom of Sundara is lemon infused vodka with passion fruit, pink grapefruit and star fruit. We admire the orange and pink tints that match a pale Balinese sunset, and eagerly set our lips to the foamy top of this drink. It scores a yum, a great aromatic blending of fruity and citrusy tastes that have been deeply infused together. Perfect sundowner sipping. (Bloom of Sundara IDR 170,000++)
All the servers have been vouching for Gin-Let-Fox-Trot as the most ordered drink. As a seasoned colonial, I have to give this one a go. It is a simple twist on a classic, strongly gin led with my favourite Bombay Sapphire blended with Lime Cordial and Tonic water. I’m intrigued by the clear clean flavour so I probe more and discover the sensational secret to this concoction. Lemon, gin and tonic water are blended with ice in a slushing machine. This slush is poured into a glass over ice then topped up with a tot of gin and a dash of tonic. Well that explains the strong initial taste, the giggles, and the reminder to stir. If you’re a gin fan, one to try. (Gin-Let-Fox-Trot IDR 170,000++)
From the Mojito list, we finally agreed on Rosemary Mojito as the most original. The rosemary is grown in the Four Seasons garden, but we learn that Javier has created a series of original droplets, which are what actually add the flavour to the herbed drinks. It arrives, innocent and clear, with striplets of fresh herbs just begging a shot beside the lily ponds. It has a mellow taste, which we both instantly fall in love with, subtler tasting than your classic mojito. But this is a devious drink, and the Bacardi Superior, screened behind the infused herbs, soon kicks in and loosens our tongues a little dangerously. (Rosemary Mojito IDR 160,000++)
Smoked Lemon Drop Martini. I wonder what James Bond would make of all the twists and turns Martinis are taking these days as bartenders and mixologists vie to come up with increasingly original and inspirational drinks. I didn’t ask if this one was shaken or stirred, but it certainly stirs our taste buds with its slightly sweeter smoky lemon taste. I wonder how they do it, and find that it is Vodka, Cointreau, and a smoke droplet. So not much chance of making this one at home then. It’s a delicious twist to another classic drink and I love the curled lemon peel elegantly draped along the glass. (Smoked Lemon Drop Martini IDR 125,000 ++)
The sun is down and the atmosphere is changing as fires light up and candles aglow. The ambience now has a sexy sizzle and we’re looking for a drink to highlight this feeling. I plump on Smoked Berries, which sounds powerfully potent with its base of Lagavulin 16. And wow! What a great choice. Vodka, Malt Whisky and red berries. Totally terrific, taste-bud tingling; raspberry pureed over clear, clear ice with just a hint of lime and a long smooth smoky aftertaste. A taste sensation, and totally totally sexy! (Smoked Berries IDR 170,000++)
We’d seriously like to try everything on the menu, but six is enough for two girls in one night before dinner. Pouring over the menu and pondering what to showcase, for our last cocktail, our eyes fall on Coconut Rhapsody. It’s a visual sensation, with its maquillage of edible flowers, looking almost too good to touch. But touch we do and sip from our straws. Fresh Coconut Puree is melded with Bombay Blue Sapphire and Coconut Liquor and teeny pops of coriander. It’s an ultimate drinking indulgence and a delightful way to end. (Coconut Rhapsody IDR 170,000++)
An intriguing option that we did not try, are cocktail and tapas pairings. But I’d l like to mention a couple just to whet your appetite: Wasabi Martini with Tuna Tartar and, Wild Side with Duck Terrine (Cocktails and Tapas IDR 200,000++)
We seriously are in heaven. It’s a stunning location, relaxing surrounds, and the best cocktails I have tasted in my life so far. I love the unusual combinations. Gin with coconut! Malt with Raspberry! I cannot wait to get back to Barcelona and go and find this Javier’s original bar. But for now, cheers to Sundara and the Four Seasons for bringing us this experience. You may look at the prices and find other bars cheaper, but the alcohol content and the quality here beats everything I have tasted so far. You get what you pay for has rarely been so high in my mind. We are proceeding to dinner. Lucky, lucky us. If you want to see what is on the menu for us, read on here:
Reasons to visit: Probably the best sunset drinks in Bali. Unmissable experience. Don’t take my word for it, just go and try for yourselves!
All Day Al Fresco 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Cocktail Happy Hour 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Lunch 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner 6:00- 11:00 pm
Sundara at Four Seasons Resort
+62 (0) 361 708333