Wine expert Ajit Balgi picks his five best cocktails in Mumbai from a carefully curated list of his favourite places in the city.
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Cocktails have come a long way in the country today. As much as the rise of cocktails in India makes me happy, the mediocrity at most places is worrying. Sweet, cloying, syrupy is the name of the game with the added fancies of dry ice (and these days the smoking gun in the name of molecular mixology). The histrionics for the cocktail scene is set, the essence is missing and at the end it is all smoke no fire you realise. Amongst all these, there are still some places that are doing their best in pushing the bar and trying creative and innovative cocktails while staying true to the drink. Here is a pick of my go-to cocktail places in Mumbai city.

Harbour Bar

Opened in 1933 at the Taj Mahal Hotel it holds the distinction of being the first licensed lounge bar in the city - its excise license is numbered one. The place is known more for its malt selections and straight drink culture with a loyal customer base as much it is for classic cocktails like the ‘From The Harbour Since 1933’, a cocktail crafted for two American sailors who decided to celebrate the end of prohibition in the United States at the Taj Mahal Hotel. The cocktail with Gin, Chartreuse and more and has been a mainstay since then. Some of their home infusions include a seafood whisky and a lamb chop Cognac. Cocktails start at Rs 799.

My Pick: Montezuma

Koko

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Five Best Cocktail Places In Mumbai - Koko

The only standalone to feature on the list, Koko, an Asian gastro pub is only a few months old but has taken the cocktail selection to newer heights sans the out of place glamour. The island bar with five to six bartenders churning cocktails makes for a splendid view indeed. Use of Parmesan, Broccoli, Falernum, Champa etc sets them apart and the combinations, bartenders and bar settings takes them to the head of the class. Cocktails start at Rs 550.

My pick: Green Maozi

Romanos

Romanos at the J W Marriott Sahar is an Italian restaurant which offers fine cocktails in a luxurious setting at the bar upstairs. A memorable chocolate themed meal I savoured ended with a Fennel Ristretto and started with a Spice Market Old fashioned. Cocktails start at Rs 690.

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My Pick: White Tea Daiquiri

AER

The city’s highest five-star bar situated at the Four Seasons hotels offers panaromic views of the Arabian Sea and has been consistently the top performer in the city’s cocktail scene. Their primary focus on quality spirits and ingredients and marrying of flavours has held them steady. With their new bartender Ashish Sharma, we can look forward to more tippling times. Cocktails start at Rs 1300.

My pick: Dark & Stormy

Wink

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One of the pioneers of a thriving ‘cocktail ‘culture in the city, the Wink at Vivanta erstwhile Taj President was one of the best bars in Asia. It boasts of a good whisky selection and a sizeable cocktail menu. I like the place for its consistency in cocktails paired with pizzas from Trattoria next door. Cocktails start Rs 775.

My pick: Lost in Wink

About The Author:

Ajit Balgi has been in the drinks world since 2001. A certified wine & spirit educator and an alumnus of S P Jain, Mumbai, Ajit is one of India’s leading beverage experts. He works with several corporates, country boards and liquor cos on their spiritual endeavors and is the founder of The Happy High.

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