Few other Indian cities can rival Mumbai when it comes to nightlife. From glittering rooftop bars filled with Bollywood stars to stylish hotel bars where the finest mixologists are behind the stick – as well as lively drinking dens where the atmosphere is as delectable as the drinks – the cocktail landscape in this city is refreshingly varied. No matter the ambience you seek, these cocktail bars in Mumbai will ensure a memorable evening out on the town (not to mention standout tipples).
Of all the destination cocktail bars in Mumbai, Aer may well be the most beautiful. Stretching across the entire length of the Four Seasons’s roof, the swanky, open-air lounge features panoramic cityscape and sea views. The bar draws a see-and-be-seen crowd throughout the year (in monsoon season, its canopies and windscreens protect immaculately attired guests from the elements), with a cocktail menu worth traveling for. The bar staff are seasoned mixologists, and the drinks – among them the Mumbai Kiss, which features rum, maraschino, cardamom and pineapple – place emphasis on local flavors.
The Sahib Room and Kipling Bar
Nowhere does old-fashioned glamour quite as well as The Sahib Room and Kipling Bar, located within the St. Regis Mumbai. The décor is all glass candelabras, plush booths and ornately embroidered textiles, all of them designed to evoke a bygone India of the British Raj. Cocktails are baroque and boundary pushing, and feature ingredients ranging from curry leaves to coconut, passion fruit to saffron. They’re also incredibly food-friendly (perfect for those looking to migrate from the Kipling Bar to the Sahib Room for dinner). As a side note, rooftop bar fans should be aware that the hotel’s impressive Asilo is currently the loftiest bar in town, and is also well worth a visit.
The Bombay Canteen
Vibrant Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel attracts a fun and flirty crowd; this is definitely the bar to visit if it’s a lively atmosphere you seek. In addition to its popular “India inspired” menu, which includes reinterpreted dishes ranging from palak paneer salad to pumpkin seekh kebabs, the venue’s extensive cocktail menu has also earned it acclaim. Those after smaller serves can indulge in reimagined classic cocktails (think a G&T with jaggery and basil leaves, or a whiskey cocktail dosed with tamarind), while its crowd-pleasing punches are perfect for sharing. They also honour India’s punch-making past: “punch,” which comes from the Sanskrit word “paanch,” has origins in the Subcontinent, after all.
No exploratory trip around cocktail bars in Mumbai is complete without visiting the exquisite harbor Bar, located within the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. With a history dating back to 1933, the harbor Bar was the very first licensed lounge bar in the city. Though the plush banquettes are tempting, a seat along the petite, solid marble bar offers the best view of the action. Namely, bartenders mixing up the classics. One must-order is “From the harbor 1933”, the bar’s signature cocktail – it features a mix of gin and tropical fruit juices, which is then flambéed in front of the guest. Perfect for those who like their drinks served up with some theatre.