The New Kid On The Block

The beautiful stretch of Seminyak beach plays host to the new Alila Seminyak Beach Bar. F&B Manager Carlos Torrescano shares why it is ‘the experience.’

The beautiful stretch of Seminyak beach plays host to the new Alila Seminyak Beach Bar. F&B Manager Carlos Torrescano shares why it is ‘the experience.’

THE BEACH BAR at Alila Seminyak is set up for success, it has great architecture and design but also has an amazing vibe. “When I first arrived in Bali and saw the design of our beach bar, I said to myself, it had all the right ingredients. The open view, the sound of the ocean with the wind and the amazing sunsets that only occur here in Bali. It was then that I knew that we had something different. I didn’t want to take the beauty away from this part of Bali, but I wanted to combine it with music, beverages, food and service to make it an incredible experience, the experience,” Carlos shared.

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Before coming to Alila Seminyak, Carlos was based in Manhattan, where he had lived for over three years. He worked for a hospitality group focused on food and beverage. The group had a number of venues around Manhattan, a gastro pub, whisky bar, Italian restaurant, a hip hop club, and two underground night clubs. The target market was mainly New Yorkers and known celebrities. Here he got to meet the likes of Rihanna, Drake, Jeremy Piven, Johnny Knoxville, Joaquin Phoenix and Melissa McCarthy.

“I started as the Assistant GM for the gastro pub and after 18 months I got promoted to Senior FB Manager for the company. I worked along the GMs of the venues to help create competitive beverage programs based on the concept of the venue. I also started the Concierge Program where I worked closely with all hotel concierges from the Lower East Side, East Village, West Village, SoHo, NoHo and Meatpacking district hotels. The strategy behind this was to expand our target market cover the tourists who visit NYC,” Carlos explains.

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When Carlos was five, he remembered watching his father make ceviche, breakfast and tacos on the weekends. By eight, he learned how to turn on the grill, and by ten, he was manning the grill for weekend barbecues and parties.

“My father always told me, girls will always be attracted to a guy who knows how put on a proper grill.” But he never thought about hospitality until he was 16. He went to high school in England and worked at an Italian restaurant after school and the weekends. He took a gap year after high school and spent the money he had earned to travel around the world. It was only then that he realized that in order to continue traveling, he would go into hospitality. He already loved to cook, so he gave it a chance.

During our visit, Carlos showed off four of his signature cocktails which are also his favorites on the menu. Interestingly enough, each cocktail had its own story and creative process. First up was the Watermelon Mint Cooler – inspired by a Mojito, they use fresh lemon and watermelon with a homemade mint syrup. Perfect for the beachside setting, this cocktails is so refreshing that guest usually finish it within five minutes and are ready for another.

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The Bombay Delight has gin, cucumber, lemongrass, fresh squeezed lemon juice, kemangi or lemon basil and a homemade lemongrass syrup. All of the ingredients, apart from the lemons are local.

“Every bar I have worked at has had a basil cocktail on the menu. I remember perfectly, one day as I was walking through the vegetable garden of Alila Villas Soori, and I saw the kemangi. I took a few leaves and crushed them between my hands to release the aroma, the moment I smelt it I knew it would go great with gin, cucumber and a bit of citrus,” Carlos shares his discovery.

Next up is the Spicy Cha, which is my personal favorite. It has tequila reposado, passion fruit puree, red chili, agave syrup and fresh lime juice with a sweet spicy Togarashi (Japanese Chili Powder) rim.

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“This was one of my first cocktails I ever created. I was working at a bar in the U.S. and a customer came up to me and told me if we had flavored margaritas. This was totally unacceptable, I thought, being a Mexican bartender. But being in the hospitality business, I had to comply and make something for him. I had a shot of tequila to get inspired and I started to study all the ingredients I had at the bar, I saw jalapeño infused tequila, pickled jalapeño, passion fruit puree, simple syrup and lime juice and boom the first version of what was about to be The Spicy Cha was born, I was shockingly surprised by how good it was. This cocktail might have five different versions in different bars around the world, but I’m very positive that the latest Alila version is the best.”

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And finally, The Black Margarita – tequila reposado, fresh lime and lemon juice, homemade tamarind paste, Grand Marnier, simple syrup with a spicy cinnamon rim. “By far the most challenging Margarita I’ve ever created but my favorite to drink. In Mexico it is very common to eat tamarind or drink tamarind water. I remember when I was a kid, my mom always bought us tamarind when we went to the beach and my sisters and I would love eating it. Also in every taco stand in Mexico there is fresh tamarind water which is super refreshing and tasty.”

“This past March, I was doing the second stage of the cocktail menu and wanted to do a Margarita with a local ingredient, but nothing came to mind, until I saw one of our hotel guests order a tamarind water from the menu and that when it clicked, a Tamarind Margarita. Tamarind is known to be sour, so I had to find the correct ingredients for it to be correctly balanced, I had at least 10 different versions of this cocktail, but with help of my bar team we came up with the perfect balance to this cocktail. I might have come up with the ingredients to this cocktail but the exact recipe was made by the great teamwork between me and the bar team! I have to say its been the best margarita I’ve ever had,” Carlos shares, with pride in his eyes.

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As Carlos explains each cocktail, it is evident that he has a very detailed creative process when making them. When I asked what sort of cocktails he likes to make, he replies: “I love making any classic cocktails from the Savoy Cocktail Book. I always say these cocktails are classic for a reason, it’s because they are bloody good!”
And for his favorite ingredient, he quickly says fresh lemon or lime. “Mexicans put fresh lime juice on everything and for me its been the same when creating cocktails.” Now that he is in Bali, he is making a conscious effort to use as many local ingredients as possible too.

To end, I asked Carlos, which of the classics would best describe him. “A Sazerac,” he says quickly. “I’m not sure why, but this cocktail is simple and tasty, it has character and class.” Enough said.

THE BEACH BAR
AT ALILA SEMINYAK
Jalan Taman Ganesha no. 9
Kerobokan, Kuta Utara
Seminyak, Bali
T: +62 361 302 1888
Instagram: @alilaseminyak
www.alilahotels.com/seminyak


Written by Jed Doble Photographs by AKI October 10, 2016.

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