Cocktail of the Month November 6, 2013

I can hear the faint rumble of the ocean over the chill sounds of a mellow reggae beat. The cool sea breeze laps at my hair as my partner and lounge in an oversize bean bag chairs with a candle lit between us. Brightly colored paper lanterns glimmer in the dark as they hang from the large ketepeng tree. In the night, I watch the glow of the moonlight as it catches the waves that slash on shore. I can smell the salt in the air and the feel sand between my toes, as I sip on a cool cocktail.

Welcome to the JAJ beach bar on located on the Double Six beach in Legian on the tranquil isle of Bali, Indonesia.
What feels like a dreamy paradise, is actually quite a simple concept. JAJ, which is short for ?Jing a Jing? is not much more than a crew of three or four with a makeshift bar under the trees.

The beaches of South Bali are lined with these so-called beach bars. While not bars in the standard sense, these gathering spots usually consists of a cooler or two, filled with soft drinks and beers, beach chairs, umbrellas and some Indonesians hosts, happy to entertain you with jokes, guitar melodies and magic tricks, while you soak up the sun and surf. Each little place is like a mini ?Cheers? where everyone knows your name.

But JAJ has managed to take the concept a little further. They have cashed in on in on the natural beauty of Bali, postcard-worthy sunset every night and the magical sea – to create a serene and blissful atmosphere. Lounge chairs, romantic lighting, a high quality sound system and a small menu of beachy cocktails add to the island vibe. The bar opens at 4 p.m., about two and half hours before sunset and stays open until about 1 am.

The main man behind the bar is Irvan Blueocean who says he has been working on the beach for more than half his life. Irvan has been a fixture here since 2000 playing guitar, renting beach chairs, giving surf lessons and mixing drinks. Whether you just want a simple tumbler of Johnny Walker, a classic mojito or a tropical creation, he will mix it up for you with a smile. Irvan and the others who man the bar call themselves ?the crew of happiness.?

The name of the bar itself is an acronym for happy. ?Jing a jing? which is a Balinese translation of the Indonesians phrase ?sik a sik ? is derived from the word, Asik, which means to enjoy yourself.

Most of the drinks on the cocktail menu are fairly simple, but what makes them special is Irvan?s special mixer that he calls ?jungle juice.? A secret blend of fresh tropical fruits including pineapple and sweet orange. It?s bright and crisp flavor make a refreshing tipple that mixes in harmony with the sunny setting.

For me, my favorite tipple to enjoy here is a freshly-forged mojito, sans sugar. For this Irvan will grab a handful of green mint leaves from a basket and muddle them together with limes. Topped off with rum and club soda, this brisk and chilly cocktail is perfect for someone that doesn?t like sugary drinks. But if you prefer your elixirs on the sweet side, that?s no problem either, Irvan will customize it to your taste.

A popular choice is the bar?s namesake cocktail, the Jing a Jing Sunset. It is a fruity concoction of Absolute vodka, ?jungle Juice,? lemon and grenadine. The combination provides a refreshing burst of flavor, reminiscent of the original tiki drinks that were made by hand, before pre-made mixes became the norm. The red grenadine, combines with bright yellow juice to form a drink with the brilliant hue of an island sundown. Ask for this drink with rum instead of vodka and the result is a cocktail similar to a Mai Tai.

As the drinks and conversation flow, the Irvan dispenses tidbits of joyful advice, like ?Make the world green,? ?Love your life? and ?It?s all good,? as he jokes with the happy bunch of fellows that gather here. Whether you chose to indulge or not, it?s hard not to leave JAJ in a better mood than you came with.

2 jiggers vodka (1.5 oz each)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz fresh fruit juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice. Enjoy (Jing a Jing!)


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