Top bars in… Mumbai
With more than 18 million inhabitants to cater for, Mumbai boasts bars, restaurants and nightlife to suit all tastes. James Lawrence takes a tour of the city.
New Delhi may be India’s political capital, but as any self-respecting ‘Mumbaikar’ will testify, Mumbai is the place to party hard. A city of more than 18 million people, Mumbai is a fitting introduction to 21st century, globalised India: an exotic metropolis filled with dreamers, gangsters, stray dogs, tropical forests, film stars, billionaires and lots and lots of people. It is simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating – a city of stark contradictions.
Indeed, Mumbai’s prolific film industry and thriving fashion business almost make you forget about the city’s massive social problems, including one of Asia’s biggest slums and a shambolic infrastructure.
Yet, for all that, Mumbai could never be described as boring. The city’s emerging middle class certainly knows how to party, and is the main driving-force behind Mumbai’s expanding nightlife scene and the unprecedented investment in the entertainment industry. Luxury hotels, rooftop destinations, cocktail bars, gargantuan nightclubs and local pubs – contemporary Mumbai offers all this and more.
It is wise, however, to do some serious research before delving into Mumbai’s nightlife. The city’s furious energy, poor organisation and punishing pollution can be overwhelming for visitors, as can the sheer diversity of entertainment options.
For the record, the majority of Mumbai’s upmarket nightlife can be found in Bandra, a suburb along the coastline with unrivalled views and a healthy selection of chic bars and restaurants. Popular with Bollywood stars, it’s the perfect place for a sedate night out.
Meanwhile, Lower Parel in south-central Mumbai is the epicentre of nightclubs, lounge bars and dance music, attracting a younger crowd who refuse to leave before dawn.
But for a truly authentic experience, head to Andheri. A suburb of 1.5 million people north of the city, it offers an unparalleled experience in unearthing Mumbai’s true soul, away from the wailing sirens and manic hustle and bustle of the centre.
You won’t find designer interiors or international mixologists among the district’s low-key bars, but who cares when there’s hardly a tourist in sight?
Click through the following pages to discover the top bars in Mumbai, India.
Summerville, Ground Floor, 14th & 33rd Road, Linking Road, Bandra West
Loved by inhabitants of Mumbai’s wealthiest suburb, Monkey Bar is surprisingly low-key and relaxed. It’s always full and bursting with an eclectic mix of tourists, suits, Bollywood stars looking for some discretion, good food and excellent cocktails. Try the Pisco Sour.
Olive Bar and Kitchen
14 Nargis Dutt Road, Union Park, Khar West
Another must-visit destination in trendy Bandra, Olive Bar is a sophisticated haven for the great and the good, including models and cricketing demigods such as Kapil Dev, plus their acolytes. Thankfully though, the drinks list more than justifies the slight pretension, with a fantastic list of bespoke cocktails, fine wines and Champagnes. Among the favourites is Dragon’s Tear, a mix of vodka, strawberry, lemon, honey. Service is top notch.
Indian Mercantile Mansion, Woodhouse Road, Colaba
Woodside Inn isn’t big, but it sure is popular. Housed in a 120-year-old-plus heritage building with wooden floors and low ceilings, the bar attracts all sorts: young, old, students, businessmen and tourists. The perfect spot to start an evening, when conversation, drinks and nibbles rather than a thumping soundtrack are desired.
Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, 1/136, 34th Floor, Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli
It does not get any more uptown than this, geographically and socially. Situated on the 34th floor, AER is one of Asia’s most spectacular rooftop bars. The panoramic views, the incredible cocktails and slick, gracious service unsurprisingly attract both moneyed tourists and the city’s high rollers, especially at weekends. A must-see for anyone in search of pre-dinner libations and views to die for.