Night Rooster bartender Raka Ambarawan discusses his passion for crafting drinks using local ingredients and how his creations connect customers to Indonesia’s culinary heritage
“Using local ingredients is one of our concepts – by learning how to use local produce, it makes the job easier than waiting for something that is imported.
“My favourite thing to do with local ingredients is to play with them – if you use something imported, you have to think about the budget, the price, but if it’s local, you can just go to the farmer and ask for one or two of their fresh ingredients and then mix them.
“We really like to mix fruits and local herbs – for example, salak [snakefruit] and parsley. For some of our customers, it’s their first time seeing the fruit. Like jackfruit – jackfruit is a well-known ingredient in Indonesia and Asia, but some people from Europe or even America they come here saying: ‘What is jackfruit?’ and they try it and then: ‘Oh, wow.’ It reminds them of something. That’s what I like – when a customer tries one or two of our local ingredients, suddenly we can connect with their memory. It’s great to hear that from them – that what I use here can blow their mind. That’s why I like to play with local ingredients, because we never know what the result will be.
“When the guests are sitting in front of the bar and they order the Ashes [a signature cocktail made with vodka, rye whiskey, dehydrated fruits and a flaming pine cone], they just get everything – the sizzle, the taste, the show is there, the smell – even the sound of the music, it all just goes into the drink.
“Joining Locavore, that was like a turning point – it changed everything in the way I was thinking. The way I think about food is different now. The way of eating local produce is different now – not just thinking how to get the produce, but how to work with farmers and how we can support each other. Because this is not about us, this is not about Locavore, this is not about the Night Rooster, this is about the bigger community.”