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Watering holes across the city are upping their game by offering innovative community cocktails that are perfect for when you visit with your girl gang
A decade ago, there used to be a clear demarcation between feasting at home and eating at a restaurant, with the latter embodying all the dining etiquettes of the West. Whether it is the replacing of royal tapestry with comfy sofas in playful colours, fun clay crockery substituting porcelain chinaware, or the rise of chef-led restaurants that is reflected in the cuisine-agnostic or experimental, and brief menus — unlike the ones that would have everything from chicken rara to an a la kiev — one thing is for sure. The F&B industry is embracing a casualness, including elements of the eating culture.
So, you have the concept of community tables and sharing plates, or in some places, the food itself portrays this attitude — regional flavours, hyperlocal ingredients, you know the lot. And among them, community cocktails i.e. large bowls of interesting concoctions meant for a group of friends is a latest development.
Several watering holes are serving this now, having piqued the interest of diners who opt for them either because it works out cheaper than getting individual drinks, or simply because of its alluring appearance. Bar managers, mixologists and drinking programme heads share their thoughts on The Guide's best picks.
Keeping Mumbai's humid weather in mind, chef and mixologist Rahul Kulkarni has come up with the Jamaican blue (Rs 595; serves four), a community cocktail featuring rum, blue curacao, sliced mandarins, cherries and fresh lime juice, all served with an inverted pint of Jamaican flavored alco-pop. "We wanted to take the culture of sharing community drinks beyond beers and wines," he shares.
At: Baraanaa, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli.
Time: 11 am to 1.30 am
Pimm your drink
"Punch bowls were introduced in India during the British rule. They would be made in large vessels so that everyone could help themselves to it," shares Jeet Rana, beverages manager at a Mexican eatery, while speaking about the reventon punch (R1,400; serves four). Featuring gin and tequila, the concoction is a lemony twist on Pimms, an alcoholic fruit cup loved
At: Sancho's, Union Park, Khar West.
Time: 12 pm to 1.30 am
Pop it open
"Access to information, through images and videos online content has opened the market up for experimentation. As such, making in-house tinctures and bitters are popular today," says chef Siddharth Kashyap, explaining why community cocktails are in. At his diner, the Big POPpa (Rs 1,495; serves four) is a classic LIIT, but served with popcorn gomme and peach tea, giving it a carnival twist.
At: Boston Butt, Dr Ambedkar Road, Bandra West.
Time: 6 pm to 1 am
This cutesy eatery is popular for the beverages it offers. It follows then, that they are among the few diners serving community cocktails in the city. The traditional rum punch bowl (Rs 1,600; serves four) available here comprises white or dark rum, coconut liqueur, orange and pineapple juice, fresh fruits and grenadine syrup. "The younger generation today has spending capacity and they are on the lookout for new things. For them, beer pitchers are passé," reveals bar manager Dhiresh Poojary.
At: Jamjar Diner (Versova and Bandra West).
Time: 9 am to 1 am
Call: 6358880 (Versova)
Keeping it cool
I tried a community cocktail for the first time in Florida. It was akin to Hawaiian punch," recalls Bhavishya Pratap, the owner of a watering hole in Andheri, which has the matka mojito (Rs 1,899; serves seven). Here, the use of a matka not only makes the experience fun, but also keeps the drink cold for longer.
At: MRP, Oshiwara, Andheri West.
Time: 6 pm to 1 am
A solid punch
The harvest punch (Rs 2,495; serves six) comrises vodka, sparkling wine, vermouth and fresh tropical fruits. It comes on a bed of ice so that the temperature remains cold without diluting the drink. Varun Sudhakar, head of innovation, beverages, tells us, "The word "punch" is said to be derived from the word "panch," which represented the use of five ingredients."
At: The Bandra Project, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
Time: 8.30 am to 1 am
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