Timothy Barnes: The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 2012

Episode 1: Potato Head, Bali, Indonesia.

That's MR Potato Head to you...

I was joyfully walking the streets of Seminyak in Bali on a warm January evening, when a stranger approached and asked me if I knew a Tom Collins. Strange, I though to myself, but was quick to reply: “No, I’ve never met anyone named Tom Collins before. Why do you ask?”

“Well Sir, he’s hopping from bar to bar and he’s been singing a mighty bad tune about you”

“I’ll murder him”

“Quick! Down the end of that road, you’ll find Potato Head Bar, he’s gone in there, Sir” was his instruction.

Fortunately for me, I was meeting a couple old friends at Potato Head that very evening, so it was going to work out great. Give this douche a dressing down then have a drink to relax and de-brief, post throttling.

I began my journey down a magnificent entrance, a driveway fit for a king, flanked by palm trees 15 metres tall.  I drew up my sleeves and marched on down. This Tom Collins was in for a kickin’, I thought, as I drew closer but slowly, I felt my rage subside. This golf club-esque approach had a profound calming effect on all who walked the length.

I rounded the last corner and was greeted by a structure akin to a football stadium and waiting to greet me was another sizeable structure in the shape of a doorman. I had my backpack with me and I was to hand it over for a quick scan, just a note pad

and laptop, so was given the nod. I was then given probably the most thorough pat down I’ve had since being in Asia. Most days, I’m frisked at shopping malls, hotels etc. and it seriously makes me laugh, as it’s generally a hand on the small of your back.

That’s why I choose to keep my gun in the front of my trousers, the security never check there and the added convenience, I never, ever forget to put the safety on. Alas, I wasn’t carrying my weapon that night.

In I went and I was guided between two walls adorned in recycled window shutters, anyone that has seen this bar could tell you what a fantastic way this is to colour and decorate a blank canvas of grey concrete. From a distance it’s has a rich texture courtesy of the horizontal slats, also the colour and texture transform depending on your perspective. Interestingly it’s taken ……to complete with shutters, sourced from all over the island.

Next, I was greeted by a gorgeous host who struggled with the concept of East, West, North and South, but by god did she try. Given her looks she was promptly forgiven and I made myself comfortable at a table I was shown to, nearly forgetting why I was there. Aaah, Tom Collins.

I thought the best way to track him down was through one of the servers, if he was shooting his mouth like my friend in the street told me he was, surely one of the staff could help me locate Tom Collins.

I waited for some time, which gave me time to take in the surroundings.This bar was truly a grand design, not only was it huge, there were several levels at least two bars, formal dining area, a sizeable lawn for dancing when resident and international DJ’s played and they even had a pool that nestled between grass and the sand of Seminyak beach.

This place was the perfect environment to help you forget about your day to day, much like Mahiki or Milk and Honey.

The first bar’s lamp-shades had maritime horns, possibly taken from a one-time sea-going vessel, possibly not. A back bar that had a live creeper vine spanning the length of the 6 metre bar. Standing room only. And it seemed like there was a dress and attitude code there too, Bin-Tang vests and loud, obnoxious voices. Unfortunately, you can’t escape certain things.

The next bar along was decorated with white garden chairs at a low height with the bar tenders on a lowered floor, so that eye-level service was maintained, a very nice touch, something I feel you don’t see often enough.

Around this time I noticed my friends come in and I signaled them over. I still hadn’t seen a waiter/ress (sexist!) but I’m sure they weren’t far away. We made our acquaintances and I remarked on my friends new boat shoes, perfect venue to be sporting the new purchase.

We sat down and were finally greeted by one of the staff. He asked if he could be of assistance I asked if he knew a Tom Collins and he said he’d ask at the bar. One step closer, was I!! My friends reminded me that a mutual friend had arranged a bottle of Ketel One for us to enjoy. Colin Chia, thanks again buddy, you’re a gentleman, thanks for being a part of this great night. We sorted this out along with soda and lime to boot. It was great settling into and enjoying the surrounds and we did talk about the venue, the décor and the menu for quite sometime. Proof they had done a great job.

The menu was great, plenty of choice a varied selection of Potato Head creations and yes, there was some spelling and grammatical errors, but this bar review isn’t about pointing out every mistake and shouting about it from the top of the hill, I just want to share experience and enjoyment to others in the industry.

Our drinks came over and I had a glass presented to me “your Tom Collins, Sir”

Tall, some fizz and adorned with a citrus garnish, this guy knew what I liked but what the flip was going on. Was I set up? Who is this Tom Collins and whose parents would name their son after a cocktail? No wonder he ‘bad mouths’ others, he’s angry at life this guy.

I set my lips down on the drink and took that first sip. Magic, this drink had the makings of something great, good gin ‘punchiness’, fantastically balanced and refreshing to the end. I, like most bartenders have a relationship with those classics that comprise of base spirit, citrus and sugar. Daiquiris, sours, Collins etc. They’re a great way to test the waters of a new venue and can be turned out at just about any bar.

We settled into our groove for the evening and watched people come and go. The friends I was with knew this place well and frequented PH whenever they were in town. I enjoyed everything about the evening, great company, comfortable and varied surrounds, a great cocktail and a beach for flips sake.

In conclusion, Potato Head is a great place, well worth checking out. Go, go, go! Bali, thankfully, is experiencing somewhat of a comeback on the tourist circuit and I know I’ll visit again. During my time in Bali, I visited PH twice and even saw 2012 in with friends. And it must be said, they make a cracking Gin Rickey.