Island-grown ingredients add a Southeast Asian touch to cocktails that meld the flavors of Europe and Japan.
Fully awakened from its pandemic-induced slumber, Bali’s hip Canggu area is going through a visible boom, with a fresh crop of restaurants and bars drawing expat residents and visiting holidaymakers alike. One of the notable new arrivals on the scene is Segno — a speakeasy located directly above the Mediterranean-inspired Luma restaurant. Hidden behind a sliding fire escape door, it’s the second venture of talented Japanese mixologist Yutaka Nakashima, who has spent the past two decades bartending around Asia. In Jakarta he helms Koda, the discreet Ginza-style watering hole right off Sudirman that has been lauded as one of the Indonesian capital’s best speakeasy bars. (Eagle-eyed readers may recall his name from a previous stint at now-defunct Kuvo Singapore.)
Nakashima’s Bali offshoot was named after the musical notation “Dal Segno” (Italian for “from the sign”), a navigation mark that tells musicians the point from which to begin repeating a passage. In-the-know travelers staying in Canggu may well end up visiting this refined drinking den multiple times. From the faux fire escape door, a carpeted staircase leads to a wooden hallway and then the main bar area, where bartenders pour cocktails behind a leather-edged counter with over a hundred liquor bottles and a mosaic wall as a backdrop. Opening directly to an outdoor terrace, two smaller rooms can be booked for tastings and private gatherings.
Segno’s cocktail menu shows off unusual flavor combinations using local island-grown ingredients — think pandan, moringa, coffee, and lemongrass — in avant-garde remakes of classic tipples. Must-tries include a G&T made with pine needle–infused gin and jasmine, and Purpure, or lavender-infused Balinese Grappa with raspberry, citrus, and egg white. Nakashima fuses his Japanese heritage with a Mediterranean flair in the Umami Dirty Saketini, which blends olive oil fat-washed gin and dry vermouth with sake, dashi, and olive.
The precision of his cocktail-making style extends to the use of ice. This essential component is made by hand and cut into large cubes to control every milliliter of dilution, making sure that drinks stay balanced till the very last sip. Serious cocktail connoisseurs can also ask mixologists to create a one-off bespoke creation. Hungry patrons, meanwhile, will get to nibble on sweet and savory bites from Luma’s food menu for Segno, which includes lamb, taleggio cheese, and pea arancini; mushroom-and-burrata bruschetta drizzled with truffle oil; and fried soft-shell crab. Segno is open every night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.