Azul Beach Club

Published 30 November 2016   

Location:
legian – BALI

Written by:
DAN ASHCROFT

The striking bamboo structure that is Azul Beach Club cuts a commanding presence on Padma Beach, and is the latest hotspot for daytime grazing, sunset schmoozing and everything else in between. FRV takes a closer look to see what all the buzz is about.

Intrigued at the prospect of visiting a top-end beach club that’s not in Seminyak, I head down for a Friday afternoon session, keen to check out what all the fuss is about. Billed as a ‘beachfront bamboo tree house’, Azul is a three-storey emporium of casual, family-friendly fun, where you could happily lose a day hanging out in the open-air restaurant, infinity outdoor pool with sun loungers or private dining terraces. Despite having flung open its doors just a few months ago, people are already flocking to this stylish venue, which has everything you’d want from a proper beach bar. As the name suggests, vibrant flashes of deep blue are found throughout the ramshackle-chic structure, with cobalt cushions and furnishings, and eye-catching motifs lining the bar front. Funky light fixtures that sway in the sea breeze and humorous quotes scrawled on the ceilings further add to the laid-back air.

_mg_6181The striking bamboo structure of Azul.

The result is effortlessly casual, enhanced by a menu that perfectly fits the vibe thanks to renowned local chef Arief Wicaksono, and an exclusive Tiki-inspired cocktail list that is built around that most tropical of spirits: rum. Not just any old grog either – most of the creations on Azul’s drinks menu utilise up-and-coming local distillery Nusa Caña, based right here in Bali. Bringing back the forgotten story of Indonesian rum, Nusa Caña is a premium spirit blended for today’s tastes, and is the ideal cornerstone of Azul’s Tiki creations. Helmut Roessler – the man behind the mixtures – runs the show at Azul, but obviously is happiest when tinkering with the drinks list. Ask him about the cocktails and his eyes light up; “People tell me that this is not a real Mai Tai” he chuckles (handing me a Mai Tai), “so that’s why I call it 2.0. I’ve updated it”. A good swig confirms this – it contains three kinds of rum and, according to the description, a dash of ‘tropical love’. Whatever that means, it requires some restraint not to down the whole thing on the spot.

_mg_6165Cool, casual dining in the upstairs Tiki Bar.

Another nice touch is the custom crafted glassware. Each drink comes in its own unique Polynesian-style Tiki head, designed to compliment the sipping experience. “Can you believe we are the only rum bar around?” continues Roessler. He has a point too; the refreshingly light drinks are absolutely ideal for the island atmosphere of Bali – especially the orange-cinnamon infused Bali Bali, and the fruity Island Nectar, served in one of those statues you see on Easter Island.

Feeling a touch punchdrunk and in need of some sustenance, I descend to the ground floor level restaurant to meet chef Arief, who has promised to send out some of his favourite dishes from the menu. Well known for having helmed the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in Bali, Wicaksono brings a creative eye and fine dining sensibilities to the relaxed fare at Azul. The weekly specials menu seems like a good place to start, and I tuck into the butter-soft Tuna Tartare, which comes with cucumber, black tobiko and avocado guacamole. Being a beach club, you’d expect the fish dishes to be on point, and Arief’s version of the tartare is right up there – particularly thanks to a light wasabi mayonnaise dressing that gives the perfect kick. Switching to the ‘land’ section of the menu board, my main course comes in the form of the Green Tandoori Chicken. Served ‘DIY’ style, the juicy chunks of skewered meat are accompanied by a coriander raita dip and organic leaf salad, as well as a couple of bamboo flour black naan breads to wrap everything up. To finish on a sweet note, the Caramella Chocolate Brownies go down an absolute treat, although I’m hard pushed to finish the enormous portion that would easily be enough for two.

pool-1Poolside lounging with a view.

Every Friday from 8pm Azul presents ‘The Islanders’ – featuring a rotating mix of local reggae artists, and so with dinner done and the band about to kick off there’s nothing for it but to pull up a seat at the bar and get stuck into another Tiki. [FRV]

_mg_6262Green Tandoori Chicken with Coriander Raita Dip.

_mg_6263Decadent Caramella Chocolate Brownies.

_mg_6235Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare from the specials menu.

bali-bali-azul-beach-club

tiki-tama-azul-beach-club

the-island-nectar-azul-baliTropical Tiki cocktail creations.

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