The old in the new

Oct 29, 2018, 08:32 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi

Exclusive>> Lower Parel's Thirsty City 127 is a tribute to old Bombay, and could possibly turn into a haunt for adults

The old in the new

To really know a story, you need to go back to where it started. This may be why, South Bombay is a testament to the city's romantic past in a way no other place can be. It's decaying grandeur is like a wise old woman — attractive in her prime and beautiful in her aged visage. We wade through the crowd and stench of the Lower Parel fish market on foot, a yellow cursor on our phone directing us to the destination. The distance between the station and Todi Mills is too short. The cab won't go.

The iconic mill is as much a remnant of 19th-century Bombay's industrial boom as it is an embodiment of her 21st century luxe avatar, represented in equal measure by the soot-covered walls and the beseechingly lit signage, inviting you to leisure, dine, or dance the night away. Thirsty City 127, a microbrewery and bar which stands where the Barking Deer used to, wants you to do all those things under one roof. A hanging staircase greets us as soon as we enter the art-deco-inspired space. It leads you to the mezzanine floor, a private banquet area, its ceiling bejewelled with a hundred light bulbs. The staircase hangs above a black limestone and dark terrazzo floor speckled with coloured stones in a spacious room for events and live performances.

Spice trade. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Spice trade. Pics/Sneha Kharabe

It opens up into the microbrewery where the vessels are visible behind panels with asymmetrical designs cast on iron in the shape of waves, bubbles, water and grains, depicting the process of making alcohol. "We wanted people to feel like they were sitting inside a microbrewery," says CEO, Akriti Agarval. It doubles up as the main bar space which is dotted with black iron chairs upholstered in blue and maroon velvet.

There's a concerted effort to revive the wine and dine culture that played out in the city in the first half of the 20th century to the backdrop of classical jazz. This was also when the city had its own Art Deco moment, an artistic reformation that swept across the West in the 1920s and 30s. The pastiche decor as such is not just a deliberate attempt to epitomise the aesthete, but also the obvious direction for a space trying to resurrect that era. "We didn't want a bar, a restaurant or a grub house. When we thought about what the city lacks, we decided it was a grown-up bar," Agarval tells us.

Miss sweet lips
Miss sweet lips

The food menu, helmed by consulting chef Gracian D'souza, is inconsistent with a flat poutine and an unimpressive beetroot carpaccio, but it manages to shine through with dishes like the seafood lime and chilly (Rs 400), a brackish and sapid bowl of squid, red snapper, and soft prawns tossed around with herbs, enjoyed best with a creamy and chocolate-y stout.
The drinks on the other hand are both extensive and intriguing. Take for example, the spice trade (Rs 800), a whiskey flavoured with spices and bitters exuding a strong aniseed aroma and served with an obtuse block of ice. It's much like a whiskey old fashioned, but with a modernistic twist. Miss sweet lips (Rs 500) is a tart apple cider that perfectly balances sweet after-notes from the apples with a fizzy and tangy white wine, whereas simona (R550) is a smooth and full-bodied

Seafood lime and chilly
Seafood lime and chilly

Hefeweizen wit with banana and clove flavours. So, if a bar for grown-ups is what the creators are aspiring for, they have hit the nail on the head, simultaneously invoking the spirit of its locale, which is a little bit old and a little bit new.

OPENS ON November 8, 6 pm to 1.30 am
AT Todi Mills, Lower Parel

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