Sri Lankas first arrack-speciality bar Ropewalk opens at the historic Galle Fort Hotel
Sri Lanka’s first arrack-speciality bar, Ropewalk opens this week at the iconic 300-year-old structure of the historic Galle Fort Hotel, within the UNESCO heritage site of Galle. Inspired by the 1920s flapper era, the idea behind creating Ropewalk is to put Sri Lankan arrack on the global map and feature arrack-based cocktails using local flavours. Ropewalk offers a menu of Sri Lankan fare, from family dinner favourites to those commonly found in Colombo taverns and unique dishes from various parts of the island, presenting them in a refined manner. The idea behind the cuisine was to champion dishes that were disappearing from the island’s dinner tables and create a space for Sri Lankan food to be celebrated.
Ropewalk’s design and decor philosophy is inspired by traditional Sri Lankan and Dutch colonial periods. Eranga Tennakoon, the designer, has sourced and recreated authentic furniture comprising traditional Sri Lankan pieces and ones inspired by the Dutch colonial period, giving it a speakeasy bar style.
The name ‘Ropewalk’ is inspired by the process of producing arrack, which begins by collecting the sap, known as toddy, from coconut flowers. Toddy makers would climb up coconut trees and traverse a rope stretched between two trees, hence coining the name Ropewalk. Interestingly, Leyn Baan also translates to ‘Ropewalk’ in Dutch, which directly aligns with the bar’s close proximity to Leyn Baan Street in Galle.
The ingredients at Ropewalk are locally sourced, from cinnamon, tamarind, and oranges, to the spices that have been infused in some of the arrack cocktails.Ropewalk is committed to using local ingredients and infusing their arrack cocktails with an array of regional flavours. Some of the signature cocktails at the bar are Not Quite a Margarita, which uses Sri Lankan ingredients like tamarind paste and treacle, Jamaica Farewell, which is a regular rum-amaretto-based cocktail with local alcohol and ingredients infused with Rockland red rum, treacle, and ginger beer, Only Nabeel Likes This, inspired by Nabeel, the head mixologist, is a combination of traditional Old Reserve arrack, treacle, and masala tea. Fort Fresher, a Fort-inspired arrack cocktail infused with Halmilla arrack, and traditional Sri Lankan herbs – coriander and curry
leaves. GFH Arrack Sour, a Galle Fort Hotel signature cocktail is made with local Rockland arrack, lime, lemongrass and ginger.
After drinks, you can choose to dine at Ropewalk’s gorgeous verandahs, with a menu that includes modern Sri Lankan favourites and classics. Banana Leaf Wrapped Baked Fish, inspired by Sri Lankan spices infused on a fish fillet, served with a fresh garden salad. Beef Smore Tataki, a Sri Lankan, Dutch-inspired dish served with seared beef, spicy smore gravy and a fresh rocket salad. Hot Mustard Pork Chops, a traditional coconut-based dish with fried pork chops and a tossed pineapple salad.
Amrit Rajaratnam, founder of Ropewalk and managing director of Maitland & Knox Heritage Hotels, comments, “Ropewalk is Sri Lanka’s first high-end, arrack-speciality bar at the historic Galle Fort Hotel. In a 300-year-old space, we’ve used modern techniques and the very best in mixology, with local alcohol brands, while championing arrack. I wanted to create an iconic place representing both Sri Lankan culture and the Dutch influence and bring into light Sri Lanka’s arrack culture, putting arrack on the global map.”
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