For a while, it looked like the pubbing capital of India had lost its froth. Many of the charming, old pubs that gave the city its high through the nineties had shut down. And the new ones failed to make an impact. It looked like an entire era had ended, leaving behind only a cocktail of memories.
Things though have begun to change in recent times. The last few years has seen several new and distinctive watering holes opening, with a vibe and spirit that hark back to glory days of the 1990s. While some of them offer just the regular fare, others are experimenting, both with food and drink. Here’s our pick of the best new bars in the city.
80 Feet Road, Indiranagar
Casual vibes, music on moderate volume and the use of brick and dark wood in generous doses characterise this bar. The intent is to create a throwback to the days of Prohibition in the US (in the 1920s) when tipplers had to take recourse to dive bars and speakeasies to slake their thirst. Off-white ropes strung across walls and the ceiling create an interesting effect. The prices are affordable and the music, groovy. The crowd here is mostly young. Aside from the regular pub fair, the menu has an excellent selection of house cocktails. This is a no-airs place, great for hanging out with friends.
Bacon-wrapped prawns, stuffed mushrooms, pepperoni pizza.
Sazerac (Bourbon, Peychaud’s Bitter, Absinthe spray and sugar cubes); Negroni (Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth).
Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel, Brigade Gateway
The Asian influence at High Ultra is unmistakable. So is the inclination to party, going by the good dance floor and excellent DJs in attendance. Perched at a stunning height of 421 feet, it claims to be South India’s highest watering hole. The place is huge but has been innovatively split up into different zones. You can choose from the enclosed bar, the more private party area and the open-to-sky deck. The décor is adventurous, with contrasting influences like a fluid resin wall, expansive glass, a vertical garden, white mesh furniture and water bodies creating an interesting mood. Celebrity chef Myo Aung’s menu of authentic Pan-Asian food stands out.
Hand-crafted Sushi and Sashimi platter, pork belly, chicken gyoza.
Amour (Italian Granita, topped up with sparkling wine); Inception (Whiskey, orange juice, pineapple juice, vanilla syrup, topped up with Earl Grey tea.)
This rooftop bar cum lounge at the Ritz-Carlton ticks all the boxes – warm customer-service, superb cocktails, delectable food, mood lighting and great views. The excellent wine list is another definite plus. It is a place that puts you at ease immediately and pampers you.
If you want to have a quiet time with your companion(s), go on a weekday evening. On weekends the crowd is boisterous and definitely in a mood to party. Which is probably why Chris Gayle comes here when he is in town and spins a few tracks along with the house DJ.
The open space offers a superb view of central Bangalore, complete with treetops, tall buildings, neon signs and the cricket stadium.
Vegetarian Empanada, Mexican Platter, Fiery Chicken.
Earth Fortune Awaits (cognac base infused with green tea, pear puree and ‘sweet & sour’); Midori (vodka base infused with green tea, Midori liqueur, basil leaves and ‘sweet & sour’).
12th Main Road, Indiranagar
This one is kitschy in an endearing way. The decor featuring an assorted mix of furniture, books and other knick-knacks reminds you of home. The retro art on the wall is a nice touch. The seamless mix of formal and informal influences in décor, the variety on the menu (both food and drink) and the fact that a cross-section of people patronises the place, makes it difficult to categorise Sly Granny. No wonder it has chosen to call itself a community house.
There are four seating spaces spread over two levels, the style and décor ranging from club to informal. The terrace (with a retractable roof) is a great place to spend a quiet afternoon or a pleasant night. The food menu is drawn from all over the world and includes a good selection of tapas. All cocktails are made using natural ingredients.
Pickled Mackerel with sour cream, Sly’s 9 burger, Raan & Gnocchi.
The Atkin’s Plan (rum, vodka, fresh mango, sugar syrup, thyme, chilli flakes, lime juice, egg white); Chase & Status (Laphroaig, coconut fat washed Scotch, ginger, honey & pomegranate syrup, lemon juice).
1MG-Lido Mall, Trinity Circle
For a place that’s just a couple of months old, Felix has done very well. Its open-plan layout and easy-on-the-eye décor are a pleasant change from the heavy décor that is the norm in bars. And, there is plenty of natural light. Add to this, its location in 1MG, a premium mall explains the sizeable crowd throughout the day here. The cocktails are fabulous, while the food has fresh interpretations of several mainstream dishes. The fact that Chef Nitin Kulkarni of Indigo Restaurant (Mumbai) fame has put together the menu helps.
You could sit on the lower level during the day and move up to the terrace bar in the evening. The central Bangalore view enhances the experience.
Avocado Toast, 36 Hour Braised Pork Belly Panini, Chicken Sloppy Joe.
The Grown Up (whisky, fresh pineapple juice, elderflower, cloves and egg white); Mr Felix (Tequila, fresh pineapple juice, kaffir lime).