Mumbai has long lorded it over the party scene in Maharashtra, but Pune’s playing catch-up and how! If you are looking for the coolest party places around you, your journey may end in the city of the Peshwas, where the party is getting seriously groovy. We have a handful of favorite watering holes in the city (if you’re a rock fan, check out this one), but if you are looking for something offbeat, head on over to Agent Jack’s Bar, where your favorite tipples go under the hammer as a masked crusader attempts to make the fall profitable for you.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT
Bringing the excitement and anticipation of an auction to alcohol, the Agent Jack’s Bar chain has the city’s party-people streaming in for a grand boozy game. ‘This could be the start of a beautiful relationship. But it all begins with the right deal at the right time,’ says a painted sign on a wall at the chain’s Senapati Bapat Road flagship outlet. The text-art message sums up the theme of this auction bar, that launched at two prime locations in Pune — ICC Towers and ABC Farms — two years ago. Clearly the concept was a hit, because they’ve opened three more outlets since: at Mundhwa, Wakad and Amanora. Add to their prolific presence, the prospect of drinks retailed at real-time prices via a cool in-house app, and you’ve got Pune’s techies in a tizzy. The idea is simple. The demand for a drink rises or falls based on the frequency of orders in a given period of time. This means that if you strike when the iron’s hot, you may score a pint or five of your beloved brand — Black Dog on the rocks perhaps — at half the MRP! What’s not to love about that?
THEIR APP WILL MAKE YOU HAP, HAP, HAPPY
For a city that lives by, for and with its smartphones, Agent Jack’s Bar nailed its customers at the get-go with a dedicated app manned by a virtual bartender, dressed deceptively like a vigilante-superhero detective: Agent Jack himself. Once you click on your choice of drink, the menu drops down with different brands and a price window within which you can buy your preferred tipple. Once you punch in your order, Jack lets you know if the deal is on or not. If luck hasn’t favoured you, the ‘bartender’ isn’t above a couple of wisecracks. We bid on our favourite nip and got a rejection in return, accompanied by a witty one-liner that went, ‘Showed your kundli to Jaandaar Alcoholwala and it suggests today’s not your lucky day.’ To our further embarrassment, the hilarious comeback — like all others — was projected live on the bar walls for everyone to giggle at. Not that we took it badly (and neither should you) because when you win, you can win BIG! Additionally, it will help you to know that Jack is rather fond of thirsty folk — you can offer a lower price on a higher quantity of drinks and he promptly drops the rate. He also remembers you if you log in via Facebook or Google, and will offer you juicy deals as a loyalty bonus. Honestly, this ’appy bloke is a bartender/agent you need to get familiar with, to ensure your evenings end up being oodles of fun.
You can get in on the action without the app too: LED screens display all prices and bids in real time, so even if you don’t have the app, you can follow and participate in the bidding, live.
EAT AND BE MERRY
Deals on drinks and a wisecracking virtual bartender aren’t the only attractions at Agent Jack’s Bar. The menu is full of tried-and-tested favourites and the bites are jolly good. Our Murgh Nazakat Kebab, Sunehri Ajwaini Machi Tikka and BBQ Chicken Meatballs were juicy and just perfect to pair with a couple of rounds of cocktails. The Kurkuri Bhindi, liberally sprinkled with succulent onions and chaat masala, is the sort of bar food that always sees second — and third — orders. For a more substantial meal, ask for the wholesome Ricotta Rossa and deep-fried Ravioli Pockets with a filling of spinach and cheese. Finish with the Chicken Steak or Chicken Stroganoff served with herbed rice and stir-fried vegetables. It’s the sort of menu that leaves your tipsy squad in a great mood and ready for more repartee with Agent Jack. The ambience of all the outlets matches the customers’ enthusiasm, and the music can always be counted upon to get the party going — with rock, retro, progressive house and EDM rotating through the week.
FIVE TIMES THE FUN
All five locations of Agent Jack’s Bar in Pune score for awesome views of the city and for their striking décor. We noted the on-trend noir accents with approval — dark-hued walls, lasers offset by dim ambient lighting, and plush couches with a sprinkling of those terribly stylish metal bar chairs made for models and Zumba instructors. Agent Jack is painted on the walls in neon shades, accompanied by his tongue-in-cheek pearls of wisdom. Private spaces are cordoned off for those rowdy bashes with friends and off-site corporate celebrations (check out our tips for hosting a private party at a public venue here). All outlets also offer additional attractions through the week with dedications to celebrity DJs, Selfie Saturday, IndiRock Sunday, Commercial & EDM Night and Ladies Night (free shots after 10 pm at all branches). A special shout-out needs to go to the young and friendly staff across all outlets, who ease some of the pain of losing out on great deals. The added attractions remain peripheral to the bidding and rock-bottom gains though. Because, as Agent Jack says, ‘Everybody needs an agent to get drinks at lower prices.’ Truth be told, we’re happy campers when the rates are great (like at this amazing chain of bars in Pune), so this is the one time you won’t hear us complaining about getting ’jacked!
Image Credits: whatshot; goanitelife; itunes.apple; cityshor; tusharmangl
Looking for parties around you in Mumbai? Check out our picks for Mumbai’s top nightclubs here...