There are many reasons to dislike a fully crowded bar: First you'll be told that there is a one hour waiting "at least". Then, on your way to the bar counter, you'll be sharply elbowed and if you're particularly unfortunate, thrown off balance! But, if you're in the right kind of bar, all the trauma of the last few minutes will dissipate the moment you enjoy your first glass of cocktail.
Not so long ago, local bars or restaurants housed only hard liquor - whisky, vodka, gin, rum and all. A few of them also stocked a string of popular shots like tequila, jagermeister and sambuka. But as disposable incomes grew, so did the restaurant culture. And almost overnight people rediscovered the joy of a stiff cocktail.
Gone are the days when cocktails took a backseat and you had to do with exceedingly sweet Mojitos with an odd aftertaste, Bloody Marys' doused in tobasco sauce and wide glasses of dry margaritas' that just never quite taste right. Now, you can drink yourself silly with come seriously good cocktails that have arrived thanks to experienced bartenders, creative ingredients and new techniques.
"When someone walks into my bar, I ask them, do you want to get high or do you want to enjoy your drink? For those who want both, I have an ingenious collection of first-rate cocktails that offer both taste and potency" said Guru Prashanth, Director Bar Operations at High Ultra Lounge.
"One of our most popular drinks 'Unfinished Business' is a mix of tequila gold, spiced rum, coffee liqueur and rose vermouth. It's served with a ball of ice in the centre and comes in a wooden box. Once you open the box, you get a whiff of cedar oak smoke. We're not just selling a drink, we're selling an experience."
Jason Mendonsa, Assistant Bar Manager at blueFROG had a slightly different take, "In a restaurant or lounge, people have the luxury of time which allows you to experiment with both recipes and technique. But in a club, your cocktails need to be quick, potent, sharp and have great character. And if they go wrong, a customer is most likely not to try it again."
Delhi vs Mumbai Vs Bangalore - Choice of drinks
Like their choice of food, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore's choice of drinks is also distinctive. According to Jason, "People in Delhi often ask for whisky-based cocktails while those in Mumbai want more flavour-packed and fruit-based drinks. On the other hand, most people in Bangalore ask for diabolical drinks. The more lethal they are, the better they taste."
Why did people not spend on cocktails earlier? "Cocktails were always as expensive, if not more, than a regular drink. But with a regular drink you don't run the risk of not enjoying it. So I follow a simple rule - if you don't like what you're drinking you don't need to pay for it," said Guru.
But what actually goes on behind the bar counter? How do those exotic drinks taste so good and is it possible to make them at home if you get all the right ingredients? We have all the intelligence for you, along with some delicious recipes! We've dutifully catalogued some of the best cocktails from your city by picking three premier party destinations - Monkey Bar - Delhi, High Ultra Lounge - Bangalore and blueFrog - Mumbai.
If you've had a hard week at work and don't want to be shoved around by a high-roller at your new local pub, then we reckon you try out one, if not all (if you dare) of these inventively lethal cocktails.
High Ultra Lounge
Here are some of the sneaky drinks that look sophisticated, taste good but will knock your socks off before you can even complete the word 'cocktail'.
Left: Unfinished Business; Right: Constellation
30ml tequila gold/anejo
15ml Spiced Rum
10ml Coffee Liqueur
10ml Rose Vermouth
Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and serve in a martini glass or champagne saucer with ice ball.
15 ml elder flower monin
10ml lime juice
Shake all the ingredients and strain in to a long glass with baby daisy flowers.
In the category of cocktails, I'd peg Monkey Bar as a high achiever. Invariably, some of the cocktails are better than the other, but they're all of the kind that you'd be proud to serve on a party night.
Left: Maanga; Right: Copper Monkey
A tangy mix of vodka, aam panna, sweet lime, cumin and salt that is refreshing and addictive at the same time.
60 ml vodka
90 ml freshly squeezed sweet lime juice
45 ml raw mango squash
1 raw mango slice, to garnish
1 cup cubed ice
1. Add the vodka, sweet lime juice and raw mango squash into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
2. Shake well and pour into a nutella jar or glass of your choice.
3. Garnish with a slice of raw mango.
Orange juice, passion fruit, mint, bitters spiked with whiskey and served in a delectable copper tumbler
60 ml whisky
60 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
10 ml passion fruit extract
10 ml lime juice
8 mint leaves
1/2 orange slice, to garnish
4 drops angostura bitters, to garnish
1 cup cubed ice
1. Add the whiskey, orange juice, passion fruit extract, lime juice, mint leaves and ice into a cocktail shaker.
2. Shake well and pour into a copper tumbler or glass of your choice.
3. Garnish with half a slice of orange and drops of bitters.
New genres of music, live performances, terrific DJs', a white and bright courtyard and a magnificent bar. If you're young, wild and free, and enjoy a variety of eclectic music then blueFROG will most definitely be up your alley.
Left: Raaz-Mataaz; Right: Whisky megaFROG
120 ml whisky
250 ml watermelon juice
2-3 kaffir lime leaves
Shake all the ingredients and pour them in a sipper bottle.
60 ml rum
60ml Fresh berries
45ml Grape juice
6 to 7 Mint leaves
Shake all the ingredients and pour them in a tall glass.