Truth is, I'm not a party animal. Not in my younger days, nor in my current mid-30s. But I'm a social drinker and being a somewhat social butterfly requires some amount of alcohol in an environment that supports people to hold a decent conversation as well.
Don't get me wrong – I love dancing and live music as well. But you can't converse properly in a club. So when I'm out and about, I tend to pick either a laid-back bar, a pub or a lounge. Lucky for me, there are ample of these establishments in Jakarta, many of them are neighborhood bars, although new and pretentious establishments seem to pop up all the time. No offense, but getting excessively dolled up just to grab a couple of beer sounds ridiculous to me.
Based on my frill and hassle-free requirements, here is a list of bars I'd run to for good time with friends:
5. Beer Garden
Photo: Arwin Waworuntu/Creative Commons
They have three establishments in Jakarta. The first one in Kemang has a much younger crowd compared to the one in SCBD and Jl. Wahid Hasyim, but all the three places offer affordable drinks. The fun part is when they scream out for the hourly special liquor shots, usually after 9 p.m., while most bars offer them earlier during happy hours. Being strategically located close to office areas makes them a convenient stop for a quick after-office drink. The food is decent as they serve bar food and traditional pre-drinks/hangover fixer, such as spicy nasi goreng (fried rice) kampong.
4. Eastern Promise, Kemang
Photo: Eastern Promise
The atmosphere is warm and friendly, while the service is good and generally fast. Other than beers for game night, the Mojito and Margarita are excellent here. It serves great Indian and English food. On Friday night there’s an awesome live band if you're up to singing with a bunch of happy crowd. But what's really great, is that they have a kids’ playroom so mommy and daddy can deposit the little ones while they are having their Sunday alcohol fix.
3. Cazbar, Mega Kuningan
Photo: Caz Bar
This three-story bar is a sibling of Eastern Promise and is packed every night of the week. If you're planning a private party, the third floor is great to book. It serves one of the most delish pork bites in town. And after office hours, the place is swarmed with hunkies who opt for low-key joint over posh Loewy next door.
2. Murphy's Irish Pub, Kemang
Photo: Murphy's Irish Pub
It claims to be 'the first Irish bar in Jakarta'. I don't give a fuss whether it's true or not, as long as they continue serving Killkenny on tap. The place has a friendly atmosphere and is spacious. They serve some of the best bar food in Jakarta without being overpriced (my fave is Poutine or fries with gravy – their Nachos con Carne is beyond decent). Definitely my go to place to watch EPL and RWC games once the season started.
1. Face Bar, Menteng
Photo: Face Bar
Nothing can describe this place, at least personally for me. Too much happy time, too much drama as well – but what happens at Face stays at Face. This sanctuary for foreign journalists in Jakarta has a comfy and artistically rustic interior. The cool part about it is that they come with two restaurants attached that serve some of the best Thai and Indian food in town. Face also makes a killer Sangria, so I recommend you order by the jug.
Detski is a mid-30 single dark female, who has a committed relationship with eight-hour a day sleep. She currently does research in financial and banking industry after a series of stints in the media world, and is aspired to be Charlotte, rather than Carrie, of SATC.