Tucked underneath SCBD’s Fairgrounds, Carrots is a sanctum for those seeking to bond with friends, old and new, over a shared affinity for cocktails. Push the carrot-shaped door handle, and one is greeted with the glow of neon lights and a soft buzz of conversations.
Open at 6 PM, the warmly lit, wood-panelled cocktail space and tasting room fills up for casual after-work drinks or rounds of pre-drinks before a night out on the weekends, with co-founder Alvin Sung Jaya dubbing the bar as a “home base where everyone knows you by name, with excellent drinks and good vibes.”
Looking around the room, eyes may dart towards the ‘periodic table’ of liquor behind the bar, where spirits are neatly arranged in cryptically labelled bottles only the bartenders know about. It points to the kind of lighthearted, frank and catchy approach that permeates through Carrots; which also pops up in the casual naming of the bar (“We settled on Carrots over a very, very short conversation at a coffee shop.”) to the way they capture the essence of their cocktails with their titles—Giggle at a Funeral, anyone?
Not to be mistaken as a social faux pas, the aforementioned cocktail is a blend of cognac, palo cortado, maple, banana, and quail egg. Centred on highlighting the six classic cocktail styles, old-fashioned, martini, highball fizz, dessert or flip, margarita, and whiskey sour, the menu rotates every month to bring a new variety for visitors to sample each visit.
The Yoshida Brothers is a grassy and creamy old-fashioned—very much akin to a matcha latte—only with a cheeky kick of gin. Meanwhile, Elatiorita is a margarita bursting with umami sensations; the tequila-and-islay-based drink uses acids such as malic and saline to concentrate the flavour of bell peppers into a clarified solution, lending the drink its peated and vegetal profile.
Another part of Carrots’ singular charm is the centrepiece of the bar: a long communal table that cuts through the middle of the room, opening the space up for untapped exchanges between regulars. Carrots isn’t the kind of bar where one secludes themselves in a corner (though the private room is available for a more intimate setup). Here, it’s an unspoken rule to mingle with one another, with the bartenders taking the initiative to fill in a free seat between two strangers to help ease conversations. Anthony Luis, one of the creative minds behind the bar, jokingly remarked that instead of live music or DJ sets, at Carrots, “the bartenders are the entertainment.”
With its medley of good company, smoke-free air and solid drinks, it seems that Carrots have mastered the art of intimacy. Hopping on the trend of turning strangers into friends, they’re bringing to the table a fresh take on Jakarta nightlife. It’s easy to see why for their patrons, one visit always necessitates another.