We Go Native At Dalat’s Gemination Cocktail Bar

Gemination Dalat

Ah, dreamy Dalat. The capital of Lam Dong Province is known for its refreshing highland climate, its rolling hills and coffee plantations, and its fragrant pine forests and tranquil lakes. It’s not known for its cocktail bars, not yet anyway. But the team behind Dalat’s On The Rocks are about to change all that with their new bar, Gemination.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

That’s because Dalat’s Gemination is the kind of ambitious, big city, conceptual cocktail bar you’d expect to find in Saigon or Hanoi.

On The Rocks’ Satisfying Sazeracs And Crisp Vesper Martinis

The ambitious team, led by Nguyễn Trọng Tâm, only opened On The Rocks, a subterranean cocktail den offering bespoke cocktails at the end of 2021 – and the focus was on bespoke as Dalat cocktail enthusiasts are still exploring their taste preferences. Alongside that, On The Rocks offers an extensive menu of classics – like satisfying Sazeracs and Vesper Martinis as crisp as the Dalat air. And the dark, downstairs space with an outside area, and, inside, clandestine corners and some counter seating fills up every night.  

And the team have another project, Gemination Foggy Mount coming soon to Bana Hills, and another cocktail bar, called Drinkery, here in Dalat.

But, before all that, we’re here at Germination, a bar that leans heavily on Dalat’s fresh produce, and infuses them into its cultured cocktails.

Gemination Cocktail Bar
Gemination Cocktail Bar sees the team behind On The Rocks going native.

Gemination Finds The On The Rocks Team Going Native

For a space that’s so effortlessly chic, it’s a surprise how long it took to make. “Around a hundred days, from the time we found the location to opening up to guests,” Nguyễn Trọng Tâm remembers about a period of intense, and exhausting activity.

And if On The Rocks was the team testing the market and building an awareness of cocktail culture, then Gemination is them taking it to the next level. The concept is wrapped up in the name. “So, germinate means to begin to grow,” Tâm explains, “and the ‘nation’ suggests a unique territory, and Gemination is that too – a quiet, meditative space separate from the outside world that’s inspired by our locale.”

Dalat-based bartenders at Gemination cocktail bar
Taking the lead: the bar team at Gemination.

Nomads Led By Indigenous People  

With that in mind, the team perceive their guests as nomads, stumbling upon the space, and the bar team as indigenous people whose task it is to lead them safely though Gemination’s multi-sensory journey. 

And, the interior adds to the atmosphere – where On The Rocks is dark and moody, with enigmatic artworks hanging from the walls, Tâm and the team see Gemination as part of the forest, transplanted to the heart of Dalat city. There’s the rural stone wall, dark wooden tiles covering the walls, lengths of decorative bamboo hanging down from the ceiling, above a glass atrium that’s shaded by eucalyptus trees and inside a glass window that looks on to an atrium filled with greenery.

The drinks  that follow the indigenous theme are full of unexpected local ingredients, while the food focuses on local produce too. And, Tâm explains, the cocktails are made by bartenders they’ve found from all around Vietnam – but who share a passion for this highland home. 

“The team come from everywhere – from north to south – and, besides having an affection for Dalat, they’re all passionately driven by a desire to create special guest experiences,” Tâm adds proudly.

Bar counter at Dalat's Gemination
Take a seat at the counter…

Gemination’s Nothing-Is-Impossible Attitude 

There’s one, Gemination’s Bell Pepper, that encompasses the bar team’s nothing-is-impossible attitude. The cocktail blends three types of Dalat-grown peppers – red, yellow, and green – and adds in é, local lemon basil leaves to a drink with a tequila and aperol base, that, along with the addition of naturally acidic passion fruit and some bitter plum wine, creates a richly complex cocktail. 

Or there’s Gemination’s Min cocktail, that also incorporates another local ingredient – artichoke, to create a drink full of vitamins, a kind of “medicinal beverage”  as they call it. Or there’s Gemination’s Soy Milk-inspired cocktail, that takes its source from highlands street food culture – this one served warm, with a side serving of a piece of cake “to bring a sense of fun to the evening.”

Dalat cocktail bar design.
Lengths of bamboo hang down.

Spark Up A Conversation At The Gemination Bar

“Personally, if I were a guest, I would sit at the bar,” Tâm tells us. “There, I can look up through the atrium and watch the eucalyptus trees swaying, or I could spark up a conversation with one of our knowledgeable bartenders, as they mix me a glass of Bell Pepper.”

But, as at On The Rocks, at Gemination they also have a long list of classics, if you want something as timeless as Gemination’s design.

Gemination Eatery and Bar is located at 24 Truong Dinh, Ward 1, Da Lat City. Open daily from 3:00 pm to 1:00 am.

Images by Duong Nguyen and The Dot Magazine.


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