In a city that never sleeps that boats a bewildering array of drinking options, The Hollywood Reporter lists the must-visit bars that have that something extra.
Bombayites love to say their city never sleeps and it’s hard to argue with that given the bumper to bumper traffic and the humdrum of activity at all hours, but finding a great place to drink at night, particularly for newbies, is a little bit trickier.
Any list of the best bars in a city is bound to cause debate, and the not unfair admonishment from locals and regulars pushing their own favorites, but The Hollywood Reporter‘s guide to the must-visit places to drink during the Mumbai Film Festival factors in a fundamental thing for non-locals to consider, namely Mumbai’s chronic traffic. For many international visitors to the festival time is limited so bar-hopping is out and any place far from where you’re staying is only for the dedicated. With that restriction in mind, here is THR‘s guide to the best places to go for a drink in Mumbai this week.
AER — Bar and Lounge
This slick bar, housed at the top of the Four Seasons Mumbai, is perhaps the best place to get evening cocktails in Mumbai for two major reasons: the rooftop setting offers breathtaking views of the city at night and the bar, along with The White Owl and the Blue Frog, is amongst the best places to get complex cocktails. Recently reopened after the monsoon rains, AER’s menu includes a host of local twists on cocktail classics including as well as distinctly local drinks like The Lucky Nut, which is a coconut infused whisky cocktail.
Open every day from 5:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
AER — Bar and Lounge, Four Seasons Mumbai, 1/136, 34th Floor, Dr E Moses Rd, Worli, +91 22 2481 8444
The Wine & Malts Lounge at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
India loves it whisky so it’s no surprise that Mumbai has plenty of whisky bars, but The Wine & Malts Lounge is conveniently located inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel making it an easy stop for the time poor traveller. There are over a 100 wines and whiskies on the menu here that perhaps won’t blow the mind of the connoisseur but is more than impressive enough for the occasional whisky drinker. Best of all, most of the wines and whiskies can be paired with a selection of canapés, cheese boards, a charcuterie platter as well as a range of small bites. If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to try whiskies outside of a hotel bar, then Kode in Lower Parel is said to have the most extensive whisky selection in the whole of India.
Open every day 9:30 p.m to 1:30 a.m.
The Wine & Malts Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, +91 22 66653366
Olive Bar & Kitchen
A perennial favorite of Bollywood’s A-list, Olive Bar & Kitchen is arguably more restaurant than bar, but we’re including it given its popularity with the stars. Founded in 2000, Olive is said to be one of the places that made the Bandra neighborhood cool, and it’s white-washed Mediterranean-style interior has hosted many famous and infamous nights out in Bollywood history most notably the night Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan reportedly got into a brawl at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party. There are now Olive outposts in other Indian cities but the original, which has thrived despite the fickle tastes of Mumbai’s elite, is worth a visit if you can make a booking.
Open Monday to Wednesday 7:30 p.m. to midnight, Thursday to Sunday 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Olive Bar & Kitchen, No. 14, Nargis Dutt Rd, Union Park, Khar West, +91 22 4340 8228
The rooftop, Soho House Mumbai
OK, OK, unlike Cecconi’s restaurant and The Allis cafe on the ground floor, this rooftop pool, bar dining area is only open to Soho House members, so no casual walk-ins. However, given the high probability of membership amongst festival attendees you can always find someone to sign you in. A great place to people watch, the 11-storey rooftop at Soho House offers incredible views of Juhu Beach and the Arabian Sea and is a perfect place for G&T sundowners and also serves food. Be warned, however, Mumbai’s main airport is not far away so the odd jumbo roaring over head is to be expected. Another bonus of this place is that it is a short distance from the festival’s main site of the J.W. Marriott and its not too far from most of the screening cinemas.
Open every day from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Soho House Mumbai, 16, Juhu Tara Rd, Chandrabai Nagar, Santacruz West, +91 22 6213 3333
A left field choice perhaps given the heaving numbers of tourists, but Leopold Cafe is worth a visit for visitors interested in the heritage of Mumbai, people who don’t want to pay a fortune for a gin and tonic, those staying at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel around the corner or a refuge for those marooned in South Bombay. Despite its outward appearance and gaudy signage, the Leopold Cafe traces its history back to 1871 and has always been a popular spot for foreigners visiting Mumbai. The cafe even makes an appearance in Gregory David Roberts’ incredibly popular novel Shantaram (soon to be adapted into an Apple TV+ series). The cafe’s recent history has been touched by tragedy as it was one of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, but it has bounced back with admirable grace and is busier than ever. There’s a no frills vibe to Leopold, so don’t expect fancy cocktails, but if you want somewhere to talk loudly, eat a few things and drink till late then there are few better places.
Open every day from 7:30 a.m to 12:30 a.m.
Leopold Cafe, Opp Olympia Coffee House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba Causeway, +91 22 2282 8185