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Mumbai bars, with themes ranging from the heartland to Ayurvedic ingredients, are putting a whole new spin on ‘desi daaru’.


A Bar Called Life



What’s on the menu

Desi cocktails that use spice combinations and unheardof ingredients – think garam masala and lasoon chutney in the Vada Pav cocktail or saffron, betel nut and betel leaves in the Meetha Paan cocktail.

Must try

Vishudi Chai (herbal tea with organic jaggery, basil and spiced rum), Vada Pav (curry leaf syrup, tomato juice and whiskey) and Kadi Patta Mojito (a blend of curry leaves, mustard seeds and white rum).

Coming up

A Kerala-style cocktail that uses shredded coconut with rum; Malvani masala used in a gin-based cocktail.

“It’s best to pair Indian cocktails with our Indian food. Very few bars do it. We create a new off-the-menu cocktail every day, and even encourage guests to create a drink with our mixologists if they have something particular in mind,” says mixologist Dhaval Pillay.


SamBar Pub & Kitchen



What’s on the menu

Cocktails inspired by South India, paying homage to rasam, curry leaves, filter coffee and more.

Must try

Awesome Payasam (whiskey-based shots with sambar mix, served in earthen shot glasses), Capi Madras (vodka, coffee liqueur and cardamom) and Rasam Mary (a take on the Bloody Mary, of course).

Coming up

Concoctions that use amla wine.

“The regional theme has a cooler, fresher approach to something authentic and genuine. At the end of the day, that will always have higher acceptance and comfort for us,” says owner Pragnesh Rai.


Café Haqq Se



What’s on the menu

A menu that celebrates the country, with the use of Indian condiments, sweeteners, home-made syrups, glassware and more.

Must try

Sarhad E Punjab (roasted coriander seeds drenched in dark rum and muddled with jaggery syrup and fresh lime), Gulab Rani (vodka, fresh rosemary muddled with rose syrup, freshly squeezed orange juice and sour mix) and Mauji Achari Kheera (gin, lime pickle mixed with fresh cucumber juice and sour mix).

Coming up

Tipples that use defining ingredients like raw turmeric and bael fruit ie Bengali quince.

“Our approach is unabashedly Indian yet progressive, as we embrace current global trends and fashion the elements accordingly. The cocktails retain Indian flavours and are served in unique Indian glasses and hollowware, ranging from glass, copper, silver and even terracotta,” says co-owner Pankaj Gupta.


SodaBottleOpenerWala



What’s on the menu

Cocktails celebrating the ingredients and quirks of Parsi and Irani culture, with hilarious names to boot.

Must try

Finding Frenny (gin-and-tonic spritzer with sliced seasonal fruit and cucumber), Mumma Nu Double Dose (rum and whisky steeped in saffron and date flavour, mixed with beaten eggs), Old Bawa (whisky, maple syrup, bitters and fresh apple juice), and Magic Tea (spiced rum, homemade brew and peach iced tea).

Coming up

A tea-based cocktail with house-made Indian spice bitters, balanced with housemade wine vinegar.

“I love how our cocktails draw on Parsi traditions and stories, while still remaining ahead of the curve from the perspective of global cocktail trends. We love using fresh, local ingredients and international methods. My favourites are the ones that put the biggest smile on our guests’ faces and make them order repeats,” says resident mixologist Varun Sharma.


True Tramm Trunk



What’s on the menu

Outrageous concoctions inspired by the heartland, served in desi tharra bottles jazzed up with truck art-style stickers.

Must try

Laila (house-made gulkhand, mawa, vodka and soda), Jagdhari No 1 (house-made whisky, Indian spice and Coke) and Gulabo (coconut infused Bacardi Carta Blanca and pineapple juice).

Coming up

Cocktails using feni – the first distillation of cashew fruits that has a sweet, fruity taste with a sharp aftertaste.

“We started with six desi cocktails and with the overwhelming response that we got, I’ve been trying to create more. Our only thought was to reintroduce our customers to forgotten flavours,” says mixologist Jack Jagwan.


Masque



What’s on the menu

Inspired by Ayurvedic philosophy, a bar that draws upon the five vital elements: earth, water, fire, air and void. The cocktails use local ingredients to exemplify how they tie in to the elements in an Indian context.

Must try

Petrichor (whisky, housemade roasted barley syrup with Himalayan honey and spiced tea) and Terra (gin infused with raw turmeric, ginger and honey.

Coming up

Rajasthani olive oil used with whiskey; cocktails using the fat-wash method i.e. adding liquid fat to a spirit, letting it sit for a few hours, chilling it till the fat solidifies and then skimming it off (the alcohol then retains the flavour and savouriness of the oil without any odd, fatty textures on your palate).

“There is so much indigenous produce available that we didn’t need to look beyond our borders when we have these at our doorstep. It’s also more sustainable, responsible, and imperative given the current state of our environment. All the juices and syrups that go into the cocktails are made in-house,” says bartender Chetan Gangan.

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