Classic bars and atmospheric pubs have always found their way in Kolkata. In fact, the city effuses a certain colonial, European charm even in its nightlife. Moulin Rouge, Mocambo, Someplace Else, Trincas, Broadway Hotel and all such names invite us to take a step back into history.
The young breed, though, has designed itself differently. With edgy decor, experimental food, signature cocktails and vibrant ambience, most of these bars are reinventing Kolkata’s nightlife.
Having opened its Kolkata chapter only last year, Monkey Bar has already established itself in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Their food menu lists preparations like LAAL MAAS PHULKA TACOS (spicy lamb tacos) in starters, KERALA BEEF FRY and very fulfilling AUNT Vinnie’s Berry Pulao (Iranian berry pulao) in mains and their signature dessert—MoBar Sundae Sandwich.
What fascinated me was the list of house special cocktails, inspired by Kolkata’s local ingredients. A surreal concoction of gin, basil and Kolkata’s own, gondhoraj (cordial), Toast to Calcutta also had hints of sweetness. This drink is made by lightly smoking the citrus, before infusing it with Kolkata’s famous jaggery—nolen gur—with the alcohol. It completely absorbed the sweetness, leaving the aftertaste of cool gin.
Monkey Bar’s signature cocktails include Mangaa and Copper Monkey. While the former has vodka and aam panna (fresh green mango juice) as key ingredients, the latter tends to make itself friendly to the palate. Blended with whisky, orange juice and mint, Copper Monkey has a distinct taste of freshness and is reasonably potent.
Reach them: 9th Floor, Fort Knox, Camac Street, Kolkata | 033 40606446
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Covering a sprawling 10,000 sq. ft., The Grid has single-handedly changed the resident’s perception of Kolkata’s Topsia neighbourhood. On my first visit to this microbrewery, I walked into nondescript industrial parking lot. No sooner the door opened, I tried to grasp the use of space.
The 38-feet Lego Bar fills the length along the entrance. At the centre, bar stools and tables in couple and quadruple seating form an open alley to walk through. The yellow scaffolding-like bars fill the interiors and divide the space into multi-levelled sections—The Cage, Asylum Room, Beer Garden; and is lit with a warm tone of dim yellow lights.
The Grid brews four distinct types of beer: wheat beer, India pale ale, stout and blond. Caldera, (wheat beer) and Piedmont (blond) are much alike—light, medium-bodied, and in different shades of yellow. The reddish Osborn (IPA) has an intense taste. This one is for those who like their beer bitter yet flavourful. Perhaps the stout, Tombolo, is the best of the lot. With a heavy, creamy taste, this dark drink is significantly bitter with hints of coffee.
Even though The Grid can be an incredible experience, weekends here are nothing short of madness. Go here on a weeknight to get attentive service, try house special cocktails (like Smoky Tennessee) and savour its true essence.
Reach them: Haute Street Corporate Park, Topsia Road South, Kolkata | 08444000888
Bodega Cantina Y Bar
Hidden in a corner of popular and upscale Park Street, Bodega Cantina-Y-Bar is haven for gourmands. Whether it is food, alcoholic concoctions, or music, this bar never disappoints.
Bodega excels in its eye for detail. The distressed finished decor in pastel colours makes enough room for its unique collectibles. As the small plates come in, the colour of the crockery match those of the ambience. In sharp contrast is the food, which has sharp hues and striking presentation.
Every dish here is worth a try. Pick either Peking Dumplings & Soft Shell Tacos in small plates or gobble the Nasi Goreng for a main course.
Uttam Singh, the bartender has won many awards for his alcoholic mixes. Go for any of their signature drinks, specially crafted by him. He is always experimenting and there is nothing like a bad drink here.
Reach them: Park Centre, Park Street, Kolkata | 033 40052919
The bold and shiny interiors of this nightclub in Marriott can initially be a little intimidating. Ease into the gold mine themed space by getting a drink at their very attentive bar counter.
Try the flamboyant Gold Rush (vodka-based with passion fruit) or settle for a subtle Heart Beat. This is a portion of potent whisky, grape and apple. The very elaborate presentation of their concoction is equally impressive as the many elements of their decor.
Gold is a club for big parties and houses a large dance floor too. Expect the crowd to trickle in late, around midnight.
Reach them: JW Marriott Hotel, J.B.S Haldane Avenue, Kolkata | 033 66330000