The gentleman's club. It can have different connotations in the US, especially in Las Vegas. But in Colonial India and through much of the second half of the 20th Century these clubs were the watering holes where the city's cognoscenti gathered. The bars in these clubs transported you to another time and place; plush leather seats, wooden panelling, and hushed tones. The Madras Club (that was also known as the Ace of Clubs in the 19th Century) dates back to 1832; it's one of India's oldest clubs, Chennai's club culture is second only to Kolkata.
Some of the city's contemporary bars exude a similar vibe. These are the spaces for a relaxed drink and quiet conversations. Where connoisseurs exchange notes on their favourite drams and where the music never kills the vibe. These are the spots where you're likely to find whisky aficionados who can distinguish between peaty Islay malts and soft and smooth malts from the Scottish lowlands. You will find other spirits and cocktails here but it's whisky that almost inevitably comes to the fore.
Here're 7 Of The Best Whisky Bars In Chennai:
1. Cheroot, ITC Grand Chola:
It is inarguably one of India's finest malt and cigar lounges; Cheroot takes its name from the legendary cigar from the erstwhile Madras Presidency that was Winston Churchill's personal favourite. Cheroot's interiors take you right back to the glory days of the Raj - plush seating, and warm and inviting tones. It's equally a 2020s version of a 1920's watering hole with 'Speakeasy' decor where connoisseurs converge. Expect to find some of the rarest single malts, cognacs, and fine cigars here.
ITC Grand Chola, Mount Road
2. Library Blu, Leela Palace, Chennai:
One of the city's finest bars that can walk into any list of India's finest whisky bars. The Leela Palace is Chennai's only luxury city hotel that's perched on the edge of the Bay of Bengal. The blue and gold interiors complement the views. Our favourite design elements include bookshelves of first-edition classics and fine art by accomplished artists like Paresh Maity. It's not just the fine whiskies and wine list, the cocktails hit the right notes too.
Leela Palace Chennai, MRC Nagar
3. The Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt Chennai:
It's been almost a decade since The Flying Elephant shook up Chennai's luxury F&B scene. After a hiatus of sorts, Flying Elephant reopened in a bolder, innovative, and what they like to call an unscripted avatar. Its three-level architecture offers guests a multi-sensory dining experience that is unique in Chennai. While the spotlight might be on the reimagined food menu, Flying Elephant's OG fans will tell you that this is equally a great spot to sip on your favourite malts. It offers multiple spaces and niches that have been reimagined as part of the hotel's recent revamp.
Park Hyatt Chennai, Velachery Road
4. Lady Connemara Bar, Taj Connemara:
It is one of India's most storied hotels that dates back to the 19th Century. This was once the very hub of Chennai's (that was then Madras) nightlife. It's the same sophistication that sets this bar apart in the city. Heritage-inspired cocktails vie with hand-rolled cigars for your attention in a space full of old Madras legends. The bar is home to some of the best whisky labels and is equally well known for its English Afternoon Tea Service.
Taj Connemara, Binny Road
5. The Velveteen Rabbit:
This intimate bar takes its name from Margery Williams' novel of the same name. This popular adult hangout has just been revamped and is now spread over multiple levels. It's not just the interiors that transport you to another place and time, the food and drinks menu has been completely revamped. From artisanal cocktails to international small plates and fine malts, this is a great space to lounge on a Friday night.
2nd Main Rd, RA Puram
6. Radio Room:
It's been almost seven years since Radio Room redefined the template of an 'adult bar' in Chennai. Maybe it's the music, with an accent on 80s classics and rock anthems that sets the tone for the experience. The interiors complement the vibe with re-purposed hi-fi systems in the mix. The global beers and fine whiskies complete the picture.
Sathyadev Avenue, MRC Nagar, Santhome
It is one of the many progressive bars in Chennai that are equally defined by their food menu and exhaustive list of beers. Not long ago, Chennai's bars were not known for their food and restobar was not a term you'd hear a lot. Dank is one of the spaces that changed that. It's one of the city's largest bars with an exquisite selection of whiskies and a popular Sunday brunch.
Sir Theagaraya Road, T Nagar
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.