To the CONGO Rhythm

by Runi Cholid
19th April 2024
CONGO on the second floor of ESA at SCBD Park introduces a jungle-themed cocktail bar that evokes the vibrant rainforests of its namesake country, catered to relaxed evenings of drinks and conversation.

It’s pretty much established by now that a bar and restaurant pairing—wherein they provide two different and separate experiences within the same premises—makes a lot of sense in a city as condensed as Jakarta. CONGO, a cocktail bar attached to the second floor of ESA at SCBD Park, adds to the roster of establishments tapping into the concept with a jungle theme that mirrors the rainforests of its namesake country.

“SCBD is such a concrete jungle, so we wanted to create an urban oasis in the midst of it all for the business district’s executives to escape to—that’s why we incorporate a lot of natural elements in our decor,” shared one of the seven co-founders Jessica Eveline, who also manages and co-founded the restaurant downstairs.

A stark contrast to ESA’s bright and wood-toned ambience, the cocktail bar’s cave-like interior designed by Ivan Ersan of architecture firm DSN Intervention makes it seem otherworldly—especially as it also drew inspiration from James Cameron’s Avatar films, evident from the inverted green moss protrusions on the ceiling. Rows of leather-bound sofa booths flow towards the bar at the end of the room like a river twisting and turning through the green foliage, making for an ideal set-up to have laidback conversations with a drinking partner or even to plug in and catch up on work with a cocktail in hand.

The jungle theme also swings into the signature cocktail menu. Crafted with the counsel of esteemed bartender Imammudin Azai of Under the Armpit, the curation takes on four different directions defined by the personalities of CONGO’s animal icons: the assertive yet graceful Leopard, the elusive Python, the cheeky Monkey and the wise Elephant. 

A case in point, the lavender-tinted Bad Juju from the Python lineup has a hidden complexity and ‘bite’ to its flavours underneath the unassuming appearance, produced by the eclectic mix of East Indies dragon fruit gin, coconut vermouth, smoked galangal and drops of lavender bitters. While Monkey Business is more expressive; it’s at once fruity, floral and creamy with notes of banana, citrus and a twist of kenanga (ylang-ylang), crowned with grated dry rosebud in the shape of a monkey’s face.

To go with the tipples, snacks such as the crispy Hot Cheezy croquettes and the well-loved Lapcheong Dog (made with ESA’s homemade duck sausage) remind visitors of the bar’s advantage of sharing a kitchen with the contemporary restaurant, delighting the palate with a sense of newness whilst still providing the ‘guilty’ and familiar comfort many seek after multiple drinks or a long day of work.

Spend enough time at the cocktail bar and one will notice how every aspect, down to the laidback playlist curation and the potently herby signature scent by aromatics brand Rumah Atsiri, stands as its own sensorial invitation: to kick back and while the night away to the easy rhythm of CONGO.