Bombay Canteen has always stood for two things: nostalgia and a modern retelling of traditional Indian fare and local dishes. The restaurant’s bar has had a large following thanks to their unusual and whimsy ideas of using Indian spices and ingredients, extensively alongside global cocktail menus; a marriage that resulted in cult favourites. Every year the restaurant challenges itself to create newer cocktails and this challenge has taken on a new spin. They have made it a project that highlights colonial Mumbai at its best. This year, Bombay Canteen’s new cocktail book ‘People on the Promenade’ promises mind-blowing drinks.
The first time, they created a rather thick hardbound book on the Art Deco spots of Bombay, then they went on next year, heralding the long-forgotten Talkies of Bombay. The third edition was a kitsch one on local Mumbai slang. But this time, the team wanted to highlight the best bit, the Marine Drive promenade. That in itself is an extensive project if you ask us. Mumbai’s most popular hotspot of sorts, the promenade is teeming with people who are just as whimsical and off-beat as the city. The new menu is called ‘People of the Promenade’ and each cocktail comes loaded with the goodness of unconventional pairings. The design was done by Pritha Sahai of Please See is fun and relatable, and it’s admirable how design defines this pairing with The Bombay Canteen.
As far as we are concerned, it’s an interesting premise, people-watching on the promenade and making up stories about their lives, but a cocktail stemming from those random observations is the good bit. That’s exactly what The Bombay Canteen’s new menu does. It offers us a ringside view of the whimsical characters that we regularly see around us and I’ll be damned if I don’t try to find the hidden meanings inside these drinks. There’s the posh dog-walkers, the energised runners, maybe one from the laughter club and again, something for the dreamers and one interesting drink by the very popular Trick Dog (Trick Dog is a popular San Francisco cocktail bar that’s awarded the best cocktail menu in the world, they change their menu every 6 months) people who landed in Mumbai and created one for the house. The draw is very clear – great ingredients, unusual pairings, in-house infusions.
We started off with the very pink, very smooth drink inspired by the laughter clubs spotted on the promenade early morning. Tickled Pink comes with sweet and sour rose-infused gin; grapefruit rose cordial and lime, topped with soda. It’s fizzy and smooth. The Runners High marries whiskey and gingerbread syrup with heavy cream and ginger ale. It’s alcohol-forward with a nice aftertaste. The Trick Dog mixologists (Voted 42 on the World’s 50 Best Bars) created perhaps my favourite drink of the night, the Mighty Aphrodite, a heady concoction of gin, watermelon vermouth, cherry brand, saline, and orange bitters. It’s punchy and raw, but also refined and effortless. Another fun one is the Fighting Spirit, a wild marjoram-infused vodka with Pisco, green tea and hibiscus syrup with Indian botanical spirit and lime.
The next one is for the dreamers, The Nightcap that is a mix of white rum, dark rum, sweet lime, beer, and lime. Another really good cocktail that got us hooked. Made with dog walkers in mind, the Hair of the Dog is a mix of scotch, toasted sesame and jaggery syrup with green apple juice and clarified milk. The process is tedious and time-bound, but impressive, especially with toasted sesame and jaggery – a real kick. All we can say is that we are grateful to Bombay Canteen for making repeated attempts with unique ingredients, processes, and pairings to steer our heads away from the usual Long Island Iced Teas and Mojitos. And the newest cocktail book is proof of that spirit and the effort.
The 4th edition of the Canteen Cocktail Book priced at Rs.700, reasonable pricing for those who want to carry a bit of Bombay home. It’s also the perfect souvenir for tourists and locals, and you can purchase it at The Bombay Canteen on your next visit.
Address: Unit 1, Process House, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013
Ph: + 91 22 4666666