There are legendary bars that everybody talks about. The ones who get featured in every list and win awards. The ones we all know and love for the top-notch drinks they consistently bring to the table. But what about the unsung heroes? The hole in the wall places? The bars which know our deepest darkest secrets? The go-to places? the best kept secrets? Presenting The Watering Holes, a Dram Attic series where we ask our friends and drinking buddies to spill the beans on these best kept secrets that they know of and swear by. This could be a back alley liquor store, a dive bar, a backyard, an attic in a friend’s house. Just a place to drink that has healed their soul.
We kick off this series with some hidden gems from one of our favourites – chief troublemaker at Monkey Shoulder India and one half of the team responsible for homegrown bar wizardry project Bar Back Collective, Pankaj Balachandran. Read on and thank him later. Oh and if you really want to know about the top-secret bar he mentions in New Delhi, you’ll have to ask him yourself.
“Starting with my favourite spot in the city of Delhi. Entrance through a back alley, sandwiched between a coffee bar and a wine bar, there is a cocktail bar. Petit, plush and warm, a home away from home, my Negroni spot, my Daiquiri spot and my winter bar. You would find me there chilling by the fireplace, a cigar in my hand and a well-crafted Boulevardier/Negroni. Yes, such a place does exist. Away from the crowd, known to a few friends and friends of friends. Cant share the name of this bar – it remains a secret, even after a year and a half.
Then comes my favourite spot in Mumbai. This one is not accessible to everyone for the very reason that it is not a bar or a restaurant but my comfort place. My best friends spot in Prabhadevi, a garden overlooking the sea link and the beautiful Arabian sea. My sexy afternoon tea cravings and late night booze cravings are taken care of here . Probably the only place where I enjoy a swig of an old monk and thumps up or a strong beer in the wee hours of the morning sitting by the ledge with my bestie, enjoying that perfect view.
London is a known for the plethora of cocktail bars. I love them all. Legendary bars, talented bartenders and extra amazing cocktails. The first bar that you visit in any city leaves a lasting impression. For me, it was The Discount Suit Company in London. A tiny spot under a suit shop, lit with candles and no nonsense cocktails. You will enjoy the hospitality of the three team members who run the bar. Another spot in London is The Vault in Soho, London run by Chris, a dear friend. He loves his bourbons and he won’t flinch once to pull out that expensive aged bourbon to share with you. Further, I also have Happiness Forgets in my list for the sole reason – Hospitality.
In Bangkok, Thailand there is a very interesting called Ton Thong Restaurant (in Taopoon area) that caters to the hospitality crowd. It opens during the wee hours of the night when all the other joints are shut. With amazing street food added with a chilled cheap *censored* beer, this place is something that excites all the night owls including me.
Maison Kaapi – Finally , what is more comforting than coming back home to your own bar. Maison Kaapi is not just my favourite space. It’s where my day starts and ends. A glass of crisp martini, music of my choice playing from my record player and comfort food is what this place beholds. With unique bottles from across the world, it’s a best hangout place for my close acquaintances to sit and relax and contemplate life. Unlike other bars, this ‘bar at home’ does not have a last call.”
Believe us when we say that these recommendations are not to be taken lightly. And the next time you’re in these neighbourhoods, drop in there and leave us a message. We’ll raise a toast to that.
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