Whether you drink it neat or on the rocks, whisky is one of India’s most beloved spirits. And if you know where to go, you can get your hands on some of the rarest, most coveted whiskies on the planet, as well as delicious cocktails that feature everyone's favorite brown water. We’ve scoured the country to bring you six with not just the rarest of drams but also the perfect ambience to unwind with your favourite brand of scotch or whisky.
No list of India’s greatest whisky bars would be complete without an inclusion of Kode which has garnered a reputation over the past one year for being Mumbai’s go-to venue for whisky lovers. With interiors designed by cult Japanese firm Super Potato, Kode is both dashing and delish. But it’s the whiskey bar here that’s the real deal. From the peaty to smokey and spicy to sublime Kode has the largest whiskey portfolio in India. Embark on a sensational whiskey voyage to appreciate the different nuances of the drink. Ease in with the peaty Islay single malt Kilchoman Machir Bay. Then dive into a JW Blue Label. There are smashing cocktails too. The Turkish flat bread with Spanish Manchego cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil make perfect accompaniments. The avaocado carpaccio escorted by bell pepper coulis is playful, gorgeous and delicious.
Where: Ground Floor - 11, Oasis City, Kamala Mills - Entrance #2, Lower Parel, Mumbai. Tel: 91 9987247731
Bombay High, Mumbai
Named after the oil rigs of Mumbai, this sophisticated bar is the most sought after destination for whiskey connoisseurs. Their collection of rare whiskies and cigars is simply unbeatable. Add to that sumptuous appetizers and live music and you have an irresistible combination. Housed inside a single large room, with no pillars or walls to obstruct your view, the 40 ft bar is as glamourous as it is soothing. The plush sofas, wooden chairs, round tables, paintings and bookshelves add an old world charm to the place. Do try their signature cocktails Mauryan Sour and Floribunda. Wash it down with Murg Tikka or Onion Tart with thyme.
Where: ITC Maratha, Sahar, Andheri (E), Mumbai. Tel: +9122 2830 3030
Any whisky fans travelling to Jaipur city need to add a visit to this warm, masculine and sophisticated bar. The Cigar Diwan at Fairmont is a private den where you can languorously inhale the pleasures of fine tobacco along with some rare whiskies. An indulgent smoking room with dim lights, plush leather chairs, sublime art and mirror décor this is where you can indulge in a rare Cuban and have dinner service arranged for you from Aza, the main bar just across the hall. The whisky collection here is rare and well curated. There is an exquisite menu of ‘Private whisky collection of the Maharaja’. Sizzling kababs and rare whiskies – this match was made in heaven.
Where: Fairmont, 2, Riico Kukas, Jaipur. Tel: 01426 420 000
Polo Lounge, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi
The Polo Lounge takes its whisky seriously with an impressive long menu comprising rare and popular whiskies. This ideal bar in Delhi for a relaxed evening reflects a colonial vibe complete with a fireplace, a library and an elaborate woodwork. The artefacts in this bar reflect its name – Polo with various framed pictures displayed around the venue. Apart from the vintage single malts, aged up to 46 years, the bar also houses a rare collection of bourbon, Irish and Japanese whiskies, vintage Champagne and wine, up-market spirits and liqueurs, making it a popular bar among connoisseurs. Don’t miss the Prime cold cuts served with sour dough crisp and pickles. The assorted mezze platter with babaganoush and hummus is equally good.
Where: Ring Road, Bhikaji Cama Place, RK Puram, New Delhi. Tel: + 91 11 6677 1314
Junction, Taj Bengal, Kolkata
This unique railway-themed bar at Taj Bengal comes with mock-up locomotives and old railway maps framed on the walls. The dark leather upholstery and plush carpets add to the retro (read British) charm. There is also a live band. Raise a toast to good times with some rare whiskies. The place also hosts drinking events that promote whisky and tell you more about the drink. The Asian-inspired menu stresses on finger food.
Where: 34B, Belvedere Rd, Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal. Tel: 033 6612 3939
Library Bar, Leela Palace, Bangalore
This library inspired bar has hosted Bill Gates, Bollywood bigwigs and the who’s who of Bangalore. The décor with dark wood furniture and leather interiors takes you back to the times of the Raj. The bar offers a selection of over 60 whiskies that include some rare and old malts. Try the mezze platter, steak sliders and chicken tatsuta with ginger mayo.
Where: The Leela Palace, No. 23, HAL Old Airport Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Kodihalli, Old Airport Road. Tel: 080 2521 1234
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Image courtesy: From the outlet (Kode), Facebook