October 3, 2008 / 11:06 AM / 10 years ago

Travel Postcard: Bar-hopping in Mumbai

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - Mango caprioscas, masala mojitos and kiwi margaritas can be found in many of Mumbai’s slick and stylish five-star bars, but why not also try other establishments you can tell stories about for weeks?

A flower seller looks for possible buyers at a seafront in Mumbai June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help you get the most drinks in during a weekend in this Indian city.


6.30 p.m. - Start posh and early to catch the best sunset view in Mumbai at The Dome, the terrace bar of the Marine Drive InterContinental Hotel where you can sit on fluffy white sofas and order a cocktail you don’t mind paying international prices for. The bar is just around the corner from the cricket ground, so it’s not surprising to see the occasional Indian or international player.

8.00 p.m. - After the glitz of The Dome, head for nearby Hughes Road off Marine Drive for an easy-going beer at the New York Cafe. While Cafe Mondegar and Leopold’s are the best-known of Mumbai’s student bars because they are in every guide book, they’ve become more international backpacker than local hangout. New York Cafe is one of Mumbai’s few places with pool tables and there is an air-conditioned room, but most people crowd into the warmly lit narrow bar.

9.00 p.m. - For a bizarre experience, try the White House in Kala Ghoda on MG Road. There is a bouncer at the door, and once inside, all eyes are instantly drawn to the middle of the room where a group of heavily made-up young women are standing. Standing, not dancing, because dance bars have long since been banned from Mumbai’s city center. Despite the eager waiters, the male punters and women are likely to eye you suspiciously from the moment you enter till the moment you leave.

10.00 p.m. - Take refuge from this scene at a bar from a bygone time. You’ll find white-coated bartenders, a 1970s cocktail menu and the furniture to match at The Lido Room at the Ritz Hotel. If the TV isn’t on, the atmosphere can be quite charming and the food is good too. End the evening with a Whisky Sour, a plate of tandoori chicken or paneer and muse over cricket, the stock exchange or Bollywood, like the locals do.


7.00 p.m. - Start your evening in retro style at the cool kitschy Chez Nous at Marine Lines hotel. It’s the ultimate time capsule — cozy oval shape, padded gray velveteen walls and wavy booths. The Tom Collins is recommended.

8.00 p.m. - For another surreal experience, take a taxi to Kit Kat, opposite Metro Adlabs cinema, probably the most ghostly bar in the city. It’s often empty, apart from the man behind the cashier who is constantly writing in one of the many dusty ledger books that are stacked up beside him. Sometimes, there are nearly a dozen, middle aged and young men who you would not describe as bubbly. As if to say it wasn’t always this way, stuck to the wall are the remains of shiny letters that once read “Merry Xmas” and “Happy New Year.” Beer is the only alcohol served.

9.00 p.m. - Pick things up at the Ghetto in Breach Candy. Its “rock bar” ambience is a bit contrived, but the student crowd is cool, there are pool tables and popcorn is served with every round.

10.00 p.m. - A ten-minute drive to Todi Estate in Lower Parel takes you to Blue Frog, one of Mumbai’s newest haunts for the sleek and stylish. Its space-age decor with pod-like booths, huge video screens and dimpled acoustic-enhancing walls is the backdrop for live music. The mojitos are worth a try and the food palatable.

11.30 p.m. - Conclude your night in Colaba at Gokul’s, just a few blocks behind the Taj Mahal Hotel and opposite the very popular Bademiya kebab stall. This is a place that never had a decorating budget and let’s hope it never will, because its absolute absence of style is its charm. While the dark, air-conditioned room has a mysterious underworld feel, its main “fresh air” room has the crowded bustle of cafes of Paris or New York, packed with tired but boisterous men enjoying their hard-earned beer.


12.30 p.m. - Help yourself get over the hangover with a Sunday brunch. The best offering in town is at Indigo, a classy restaurant and bar in a renovated house behind the Taj Hotel in Colaba. Its popular bar becomes an international buffet of salads and starters, meat and cheese platters and rich desserts. Included in the price is a freshly cooked entree and all the alcohol you can drink. The kiwi margaritas are perfect, the Indian sparkling wine is pleasantly dry and the test-tube-filled lychee and banana vodka shots will continue to be delivered until you restrain your waiter. You can stay until closing time at around five, and then it’s off to bed for a righteously early Sunday night.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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