Bali delivers equally extraordinary experiences to seekers of chic elegance as it does to those pursuing adrenaline, education or picture-perfect mountainscapes. Here are just a few of the enriching experiences to seek out on your next visit to Bali.
Those who appreciate a well-curated cocktail will love Akademi, a hub for Bali’s growing mixology scene. Not only can you sample amazing cocktails here, but Akademi also offers regular masterclasses led by the internationally celebrated British mixologist Dre Masso.
Delve into the mysteries of Bali’s tropical produce with cocktail ingredients like mangosteen, jackfruit and salak, plus a range of unique spices and roots. Get up close and personal with luscious infused dark rums, inspired gins and araks saturated with rare botanicals from the Indonesian archipelago.
Dre brings the knowledge accumulated from trips to more than 40 countries and includes the history of flavours in his classes. Cocktail-making skills will be honed while learning about indigenous ingredients and how to balance flavours with every integral part of the recipe. A recent master class explored the two cocktails that were presented by Akademi at the Southeast Asian Finals of the Diageo World Class Mixology competition.
Other masterclasses have included the analysis of nutmeg and cascara (coffee fruit skin), where spices are dissected and the bar-made tincture, liqueurs and jams are tasted. Cascara was first used in Yemen, where it was infused into hot water with a powerful selection of spices to make a drink called ‘Qishr’, and has now become the star ingredient in one of Akademi’s cocktails.
The Akademi daily cocktail menu is seriously worth a visit. Check out the artisanal ceramic, copper and wooden cocktail vessels that make a clear statement about this exclusive destination.
JL. PETITENGET NO. 51B, SEMINYAK, BALI
Head into the verdant hills of Ubud and the beautiful Bridges restaurant where the Divine Wine & Cocktail Bar is located below the Riverside dining room and is the exclusive haunt of Bridges’ sommelier Rahul Mehra. Participate in an outstanding master class, listen to the river flow and enjoy the privileged view.
Bridges’ wine tasting master class is likely to appeal to both the novice and the buff. At these themed weekly events, guests can choose to taste one, three or five wines while listening to live music on the terrace. However, my tip is to slip into the cool recesses of the Divine Wine & Cocktail Bar to hear about the history and provenance of the chosen theme. Sip samples of wines that have been carefully paired with delicious canapés. This is a wildly engaging and enlightening 60 minutes.
Given that the master class is scheduled every Friday at 5.30, it is perfectly timed for gourmet travellers to make the most of a trip to Ubud and feast at the fine dining Bridges or waltz off to one of the many world-class restaurants in this famous regency. If complete privacy is on your holiday agenda, then Bridges will tailor a bespoke master class and dining experience with Sommelier Rahul as your host.
DIVINE WINE & COCKTAIL BAR
JL. RAYA CAMPUHAN, UBUD, BALI
Whip Something Up
Bali’s best dining is firmly founded in the farm-to-fork philosophy that showcases local produce from fruit to fish. Scores of premier restaurants have their own private farms or tight relationships with established farms that give them access to the best of the crop. A unique way to explore Bali is through its food.
Hujan – a fabulous restaurant in Ubud – runs a cooking class that delves into how the Balinese balance life in spiritual, environmental and practical ways. Talk to farmers in Tabanan, visit traditional markets to scour for ingredients, cycle along quiet roads through rice paddies, observe authentic Balinese housing and life, visit the important temple ‘Pura Dalem Tungkub’ and get familiar with the island’s unique ‘subak’ irrigation system.
This day-long programme is an outstanding cultural immersion before you even hit the kitchen. A short course on the mainstay of Balinese ceremonial dining – Chicken Betutu – is delivered and five Balinese recipes are showcased then eaten for lunch. Options include making a ‘canang sari’ – the ubiquitous leaf offering baskets – or having a spa treatment (which attracts an additional cost). Pick-up and drop-off from your luxury villa in Seminyak or Ubud is included in the cost.
Some of the world’s most exquisite and unique natural attractions are in Bali. The seven hidden waterfalls at Sekumpul are worth the hard work of crossing a river and descending the slippery steps.
The very inaccessibility of these falls has ensured their exclusivity. Guides will take you to the most stunning birds-eye view of the falls. The tallest of the Sekumpul falls is about fifty metres and the lush jungle setting is romantic and super-photogenic.
Another divine waterfall is set nine hundred metres above sea level in the tiny village of Nungung, about 1.5 hours drive from Denpasar. Watch water cascading down a fifty-metre cliff face into a shimmering pool. Few waterfalls in Bali are easy to get to, and this gem is down 509 stone steps at the bottom of a gorge. Happily, there are handrails to help ease the way to this hidden waterfall.
Sawan, Lemukih, Sudaji, Sekumpul Sekumpul Village, Singaraja 81112 Indonesia
From beautiful beaches to the lush rice terraces, Bali is an epic destination for travellers of all ages.