The MW-Tulleeho’s much-awaited ranking of India’s top 30 bars for 2019 is finally here. The definitive national list was unveiled at a glittering awards ceremony attended by bar and alcohol industry bigwigs in the ballroom of Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity on the evening of October 23. The ranking was a six-month effort based on a nationwide poll of more than 200 industry experts, bar enthusiasts and connoisseurs. They were asked to vote from a slate of 136 bars spread over 12 cities across the country, shortlisted from an original list of more than 450 bars. Awards were given away in a total of 12 categories including Best Bar, Best Hotel Bar, Best Independent Bar, Best Microbrewery/Taproom, Best Cocktail Menu, Best Bar Design, Best Bar Team, Best Bartender, People’s Choice Best Bar, People’s Choice Best Microbrewey/ Taproom, Best Vintage Bar and Industry Legend Award
1 Sidecar, New Delhi
Fame has come very early to Sidecar, India’s best bar. Named after the century-old Cognac-based classic cocktail, the Delhi bar opened its doors only last year. True to master mixologist and co-founder Yangdup Lama’s passion, Sidecar, which is spread over two floors, is yet another interpretation of a bartender’s bar. Co-founder Minkshi Singh is also a trained bartender, and not surprisingly, the duo also own the no.3 ranked bar in India — Cocktails and Dreams Speakeasy in Gurugram. The star attraction at the Sidecar complex is the classy understated bar on the second floor, full of many exciting ingredients, concoctions, a menu of cocktails, some classic, some seasonal and mostly craft. The drinks menu boasts artisanal cocktails made using in-house flavour extractions including bitters, syrups, grogs and tinctures — these truly define the character of this bar. The first floor is no slouch either, with a built-in library and a book shop with over 600 books supplied by publisher Hachette, and a nifty selection of coffees. The food selection transcends the regular bar menu, and is as much a draw as are the cocktails. A small stage bears witness to a series of acts from a quiz show to travelling minstrels. Sidecar also plays host to a wide range of events and if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll be invited to join the Sidecar society and get an inside track on who’s who and what’s what. Don’t leave without trying Yang’s Old Fashioned, the betel-nut infused bourbon makes all the difference.
Sidecar is also winner in the Best Independent Bar and the Best Cocktail Menu category at the 30 Best Bars India 2019.
2 The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
Founded by New York-based celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz and local partners Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage in 2015, The Bombay Canteen has, in less than five years, become an institution on the city’s culinary circuit. It is one of those rare places in the country that combines a top-rated restaurant with a great bar. Even rarer is the fact that the founders’ other popular eatery in the city, O Pedro, also marries a great restaurant with an excellent bar that is ranked among the Top 10 in the 30 Best Bars India 2019 listing. At The Bombay Canteen though Chef Thomas Zacharias’ constantly changing food menu plays centre stage, 30 Best Bars India now recognises the excellent work done by the bar team led by Rahul Raghav and Deepak Koranga. Their equally dynamic cocktail menu pays tribute to the untold stories of Mumbai, with each edition taking on a unique design to bring the story to life. Over the last three years, the menu has gone from being a playful pop-up art book paying tribute to the Art Deco architecture of the city, to a vibrant calendar inspired by the slang and colour one hears on the streets of Mumbai to a historical guidebook on the the golden age of Bollywood. The most innovative part of the bar is the Indian touch with the use of local and seasonal ingredients for infusions, bitters, shrubs and tonics to create signature cocktails.
The Bombay Canteen were also joint winners of Best Bar Team in India at the 30 Best Bars India 2019.
3 Cocktails and Dreams Speakeasy, Gurugram
Seven years ago, this bar helped in the transformation of Gurugram from a whisky soda landscape to a ‘I’ll have my martini extra dry’. It has grown and evolved with Gurugram and continues to pack in the faithful, night after night. As with Sidecar, it helps that founder Yangdup Lama is among the country’s top-rated bartenders and Minakshi Singh is a trained bartender and a veteran alcobev industry professional. The bar’s prospects were not sanguine when it opened in a decidedly off-centre location seven years ago, but over the years, its artisanal cocktails has made it a favourite among the bargoing crowd both in Delhi and Gurugram. While the bar shines in the basement, the ground floor is now a café offering a great selection of North Eastern food. A performance stage adds to the ambience with weekly trivia nights and monthly quizzes.
4 Comorin, Gurugram
From the owners of the famed restaurant Indian Accent, Comorin, like The Bombay Canteen, combines a great restaurant with an excellent bar. It has one of the most expertly curated beverage programs in the country. The bar features craft cocktails, including an innovative sous vide infusion counter, a seasonal cocktail on tap, and a unique selection of house-made beverages and sodas. Varun Sharma, veteran of Delhi’s bar scene has created a beverage menu, which is continuously inventive. The house- infused vermouths like Khus Vermouth demand many repeat visits. Comorin is a great example of a bar that puts Indian ingredients front and centre. With Indian Accent setting up base in London and New York, will Comorin follow?
5 House of Nomad, Taj Lands End, Mumbai
After years of experimenting with different genres of restaurants and bars, Taj Lands End in Bandra finally got it right with House of Nomad. The classy interiors are enhanced by an excellent bar menu created by noted UK mixologist Andrew Pearson, and a cornucopia of interesting small bites. Mumbai’s Bus Ride Design studio has crafted House of Nomad’s award-winning design. The stunning island bar is packed with the best of drinks from around the world, and the cocktails are worth a second visit.
House of Nomad also wins Best Bar Design at the 30 Best Bars India 2019.
6 Aer, Four Seasons, Mumbai
With a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea and the city of Mumbai, Aer — on the 34th floor terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel — is arguably the best located bar in the country. A city landmark since its opening in 2008, Aer is also the only bar in India to make it to Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. Arrive on the rooftop by sunset to watch the sun turn brilliant colours. Aer has a tapas menu along with Asian appetisers to go with its brilliant cocktail menu.
Aer is also winner of the Best Hotel Bar at the 30 Best Bars India 2019.
7 Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Bengaluru
Size matters. Spread over 65,000 square feet across multiple levels, including al fresco dining, the sprawling Byg Brewski is Asia’s largest brewpub. As many as 16 varieties of craft beer are served here and the 6,500 square feet kitchen dishes out more than 200 global recipes. The sheer scale of the place is what staggers you when you first walk in with the fiery torches at the entrance, a spine-tingling sight. Multiple bars and spaces abound, with a large live kitchen running alongside.
Byg Brewski is also the joint winner of the Best Bar Team in India at the 30 Best Bars India 2019.
8 O Pedro, Mumbai
The sister restaurant of The Bombay Canteen, which also features in the list, O Pedro’s reputation for reinterpreted Goan cuisine is matched by the growing reputation of its imaginative bar menu. The bar itself is relatively small in size, but it is more than made up by the effort that goes into the inventive cocktails. Ceaseless innovation is the hallmark of O Pedro, and an exciting, ever-changing range of beers on tap adds to its appeal.
9 PCO, New Delhi
Delhi and probably India’s first speakeasy, if you didn’t know the code, don’t bother. This subterranean multi-level bar can work at multiple levels. Classic cocktails one floor up, and head banging down under. A superb bar team is at the helm, and PCO has formed the cornerstone for the growth of PCO Hospitality, one of India’s fastest growing bar chains, with outlets and operations now spanning Kolkata and Goa too. Rakshay Dhariwal,at the helm, is part of the new wave of bar owners who blend passion with business acumen.
10 The Hong Kong Club – Andaz Delhi-Hyatt, New Delhi
This Cantonese restaurant has stunning interiors, and an eye-catching bar at its centrepiece. This is a multi-level destination, with a bar, restaurant and a lounge. Their cocktail menu is inspired by the Chinese Zodiac and they have a finely curated wine and spirits menu.
11 GYLT, Bengaluru
12 Whisky Samba, Gurugram
13 Thirsty City 127, Mumbai
14 The GRID, Kolkata
15 Someplace Else, The Park, Kolkata
16 KOKO, Mumbai
17 Arbor Brewing Company, Bengaluru
18 Perch Wine & Coffee Bar, New Delhi
19 Windmills Craftworks, Bengaluru
20 Sly Granny, Bengaluru
21 Toast & Tonic, Bengaluru
22 The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi
23 The Harbour Bar, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai; jointly with Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mumbai
24 The Reservoire, Bengaluru
25 Americano, Mumbai
26 Bob’s Bar, Bengaluru
27 Ek Bar, New Delhi
28 Hauz Khas Social, New Delhi
29 Roxy – The Park, Park Street, Kolkata
Here are some of the special categories of bars.
BEST 10 INDEPENDENT BARS OF INDIA
1 Sidecar, New Delhi Teacher’s Glasses Best Independent Bar Award
2 Toast & Tonic, Bengaluru
3 Whisky Samba, Gurugram
4 Cocktails and Dreams Speakeasy, Gurugram
5 The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
6 Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Bengaluru
7 Comorin, Gurugram
8 Americano, Mumbai
9 KOKO, Mumbai
10 Masque, Mumbai, jointly with PCO, New Delhi; Perch, New Delhi; The GRID, Kolkata; GYLT, Bengaluru; The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi
BEST 10 HOTEL BARS OF INDIA
1 Aer, Four Seasons, Mumbai Tanqueray
2 House of Nomad, Taj Lands End, Mumbai
3 The Hong Kong Club, Andaz DelhiHyatt, New Delhi
4 The Harbour Bar, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
5 Together at 12th, Le Meredien, Gurugram
6 Someplace Else, The Park, Kolkata
7 Hype, Shangri La, Bengaluru
8Juniper, Andaz Delhi-Hyatt, New Delhi
9 Grappa, Shangri La, New Delhi
10The Cheroot Malt & Cigar Lounge, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
INDIA’S 10 BEST MICROBREWERY/TAPROOM
1 Toit, Bengaluru DVKSP Best Microbrewery / Taproom Award.
2 Arbor Brewing Company, Bengaluru
3 Quaff Microbrewery, Gurugram
4 Windmills Craftworks, Bengaluru
5 Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Bengaluru
6 The GRID, Kolkata
7 Arbor Beer Garden & Eatery, Goa
8 Gateway Taproom, Mumbai
9 Ministry of Beer, Gurugram
10Toit, Pune, jointly with Brewbot Eatery & Pub Brewery, Mumbai
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Kolkata’s Refinery 091: People’s Choice Best Bar Award
Named after India’s country calling code, Refinery 091 prides itself for being the tallest bar in the city. The striking-looking bar, located in Kolkata’s Salt Lake, bowls you over with its decor. A well-stocked floor-to-ceiling bar packed with liquor from around the world, with seating spread over two floors surrounded by vintage décor of posters, old-time bulb filaments and the likes. And to top it all, there is a neon-lit brewery at the far end.
Byg Brewski Brewing, Bengaluru: DVKSP People’s Choice Award for Best Microbrewery / Taproom
A Bengaluru landmark, Byg Brewski Brewing Company is one of the biggest winners in the 30 Best Bars India listing for 2019. Besides being the winner of the People Choice Award for Best Microbrewery/Taproom, it is ranked as the 7th Best Bar in India, is a joint winner for the Best Bar Team Award, and made it to three Top 10 lists of Best Designed Bars, Best Microbrewry/Tap Room, Best Independent Bar.
5 BEST BAR TEAMS IN INDIA
1 The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai; jointly with Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Bengaluru
2 Together at 12th, Le Meredien, Gurugram
3 PCO, New Delhi
4 The GRID, Kolkata, jointly with:
5 GYLT, Bengaluru
5 BEST BARTENDERS OF INDIA
1 Varun Sudhakar, Bandra Project by Pizza Express, Mumbai
2 Varun Sharma, Comorin, Gurugram
3 Devi Singh, Firefly at Pedrito’s, Goa
4 Gaurav Dhyani, The Ritz Carlton, Bengaluru
5 Annu Kumar, Rooh, New Delhi; jointly with Darren Crawford, Americano, Mumbai
10 BEST DESIGNED BARS OF INDIA
1 House of Nomad, Taj Lands End, Mumbai
2Sidecar, New Delhi
3 Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Bengaluru
4 Whisky Samba, Gurugram
5 Aer, Four Seasons, Mumbai
6 The GRID, Kolkata
7 O Pedro, Mumbai
8 Bar Palladio, Narain Niwas Palace, Jaipur
9 The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi
10 Comorin, Gurugram
10 BEST BARS FOR COCKTAIL MENU
1 Sidecar, New Delhi
2 Comorin, Gurugram
3 Cocktails and Dreams Speakeasy, Gurugram
4 The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
5 Thirsty City 127, Mumbai
6 GYLT, Bengaluru
7 PCO, New Delhi
8 Toast & Tonic, Bengaluru
9 The Hong Kong Club, Andaz Delhi-Hyatt, New Delhi
1 0 O Pedro, Mumbai