The best of the west

Sandeep Arora heads west to check out the bars of Mumbai. With his pick of the best watering holes in the 'Maximum City', our three-part series on the best whisky bars of India comes to a close.

Sandeep Arora        Print Edition: Jan 9, 2011

Mumbai is well within her rights to be called the city that never sleeps. Indeed, it seems to party with a spirited passion that no other city does. In our third dispatch on the country's best whisky bars, we acquaint ourselves with some of the pre-eminent bars in the city. Many of the bars we've featured here are strategically located to optimise their grand sea-views. With reason. Sipping on a fine malt while gazing at a spectacular sunset or watching the rainswept sea is a feeling like no other. Mumbai is also easy on rituals and goes simple and elegant on the spirits. This adds to the charm of its bars. Finally, guests here are more inclined towards learning about whisky than shelling out absurd sums for the most expensive brands they can lay their hands on. So even though not all the bars here have a great portfolio, the overall experience of drinking at Mumbai's top bars is highly conducive to the enjoyment of a good dram of whisky.

AER
Four Seasons
Nursing a lush Ardbeg 34 floors above street level, watching the sun set over the sea, is an extraordinary experience. Covering the entire rooftop of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, Aer's panoramic city and sea view and the endless ceiling of sky and stars creates an atmosphere that redefines the notion of bliss. Guests can see the Arabian Sea and the city of Mumbai spread out like a blanket underneath.The whisky list is neat and carries a reasonable range, covering different palates and moods. A great whisky can be enjoyed anywhere but, at Aer, it's a romantic experience. A generous pour of the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and some great conversation, either with the solitude of nature or a companion across the table, is both relaxing and reenergising. You can savour your drink at the normal tables or on the low, allweather sofas that are brightly accented with cushions in bright green, orange, yellow, red and purple. There's also a raised area for greater privacy. The food is equally inspiring, with the emphasis on 'sharing plates'. This includes an innovative selection of hot and cold Lebanese and Middle Eastern dips, Mediterranean tapas and other international favourites.

Dome
Intercontinental

Moonlit nights are accentuated at the Dome, when the soft light of the moon falls on the stark white bar. Few places are more romantic than this rooftop sky bar overlooking the sea, with the twinkling lights of the city eight floors below. Dome has secured a spot for itself in the list of the World's top 10 Sky bars by Forbes Traveler. The whisky list comprises excellent malts and blends including Glenfarclas 42 YO and Girvan 1964 besides the Bruichladdich 18 YO. There's also a fine selection of cocktails, wines and cigars to choose from. Guests can enjoy good whisky with a grand view of the Arabian Sea for company. The perfect place to go for pursuing the pleasures of the Macallan 21 YO.


The Bar
Grand Hyatt
The Bar at Grand Hyatt is a serene oasis amidst the madness of Mumbai and is the perfect choice for an intimate drink before dinner. Located at one end of the lobby just close to the grand China House, the bar has a good collection of whiskies, which stand tall in a full wall display. You will often find in-house guests starting off an early evening with some gentle whiskies and ending many hours later with smoky and peaty drams. Housing premium whiskies ranging from rare malts to young blends, The Bar offers a small but sufficient selection of food to match the various whisky flavours. The interiors are spacious, uncluttered and conducive for a casual evening. When allied with the stylish decor, and some great whisky, it's a win-win situation.

Harbour Bar
The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers
Mumbai's first licensed bar, Harbour Bar has been an icon since 1933 and was adjudged one of India's Best Whisky Bars in 2008 & 2009 at the global whisky awards, Icons of Whisky. With a list of impeccable credentials and recent renovations, the bar seems all set to woo the whisky aficionado. A Glenfiddich 40 YO is best enjoyed here with a fine view of the Arabian Sea. The seating is comfortable while the menu offers international favourites which go well with the whisky range. The bar is definitely one of the finest in India for premium and rare malts. Having been a city landmark for decades, it has gathered memories over the years, and promises to carry forward the spirited tradition.

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