“Shaken, not stirred” the classic phrase from the James Bond movie holds true today. Gin-and-tonic seems to be the anthem of the decade, and while some prefer a stiff drink on the rocks, others like a blend of harmonious flavour notes. No matter which category you fall in, gin bars across the country have ample cocktail options to serve you what your palate desires. “Gin has fitted well into cocktail culture. As any gin fan will know, its highly adaptable flavour makes it a perfect infusion for just about any cocktail. And oftentimes, only a splash is needed to shape a cocktail, making it an affordable addition to the cocktail scene,” said Jitender Semwal, Head Mixologist, Andaz Delhi.
The presence of gin and gin-based cocktails is limited to the main metro cities and it’s still got a long way ahead, pointed out Sakshi Saigal, Director & Co-founder, Third Eye Distillery. She further adds, “Although the gin consumption style in India is slowly evolving, we believe that the journey for gin in India is just beginning. Currently, consumers are exploring styles that fit them best. India continues to be a largely brown spirits market. However, with gin-based cocktails being amongst the best-selling drinks on the menu, more bars and restaurants are looking to include a variety of gins in their offerings.”
A people’s spirit
The quintessential British spirit is elevated in the modern day with a fascinating range of garnished and flavoured tonic water. Given the spread of gin culture, bars across the country have been forced to stock up on their gin collection. After the huge success of the Gin Explorer’s Club in New Delhi and Mumbai, Shuchir Suri, Co-founder, Gin Explorer’s Club and Founder, Jade Forest said, “This uprising in gin culture among urban youth has led to a surge in exclusive gin bars and cocktails across the country, and it’s here to stay. This is just the start of the craft gin revolution. There’s much more experimenting to be done, many more flavours and botanicals to be discovered and of course, a lot more gin to be had!”
While international gins do hold a special place, the emergence of homegrown gins has seen an upward trend in the last few years. It is now a given for bars in all metropolitan cities to have a well-stocked bar with an array of Indian and international gins to choose from. “There has been a shift driven by consumers leaning towards more creative choices. Today, we see that a lot of Indian consumers are excited to try a good homegrown product without feeling like it’s a compromise and a brand like ours can communicate and ensure high-quality standards,” adds Saigal.
Spoilt for choice
Rakshay Dhariwal, Founder and MD Pass Code Hospitality further gave a nod to ‘giniassance’. “The resurgence of gin can be credited to the nature of the spirit. It became a hot favourite due to its simplicity in the production process, and its ability to showcase many variations. It’s “cool” to be able to showcase something unique and different. Buzzwords such as ‘small batch’ give the consumer a sense of exclusivity, which is very desirable, especially for youngsters who can get their hands on something ‘exclusive’ at a cheaper price point. This has caused gin to really surge as a spirit of choice, and in turn, has lots of restaurateurs looking towards creating gin bars – bars which exclusively stock gins. We have seen a surge of new brands emerge from all parts of the world. As a restaurateur, it makes sense to jump onto a trend that is easy to execute. There are also so many options out there that one can really choose to showcase all the different brands on a single platform and still provide variety to the customer.”
Be it a classic G&T with a contemporary spin or a cocktail loaded with flavours; there’s no denying the depth of its flavour and low sugar content that makes it a popular choice. “Gin is a preferred base for many cocktails as there are so many varieties of gin — from the botanicals used — that it offers a lot of flexibility for bartenders when crafting interesting cocktails,” adds Rakshay. And if you’re looking to try an exciting cocktail in the capital, he suggests the Truffle Negroni at PCO, a gin-based cocktail which in his words “is like a truffle bomb” and the Olive infused gin martini that’s extra dry, and extra dirty.
Made for cocktails
A key element to note is the ease with which gin can be paired with mixers to create delicious concoctions. Speaking on the versatile nature of the spirit, Varun Sharma, Beverage Manager, Comorin, Gurugram said, “Gin can have many different profiles based on the mix of botanicals. That has led to many craft gins on the market that expand the choices available to bartenders for mixing into cocktails. Part of the appeal is the variety on offer within the category. It is also a lighter spirit which makes it easier to drink and blends well in both refreshing cocktails (gin fizzes, gimlets etc) and stronger, more alcohol-forward cocktails (martinis, negronis).”
We’ve put together a list of the best gin bars in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The next time you’re looking for a delicious tipple in your city, don’t forget to check out these venues!
New Delhi, NCR
If finding a bar that serves only gin is what you want, we have the perfect one for you — Juniper Bar at Andaz, in Aerocity, New Delhi. A niche bar dedicated to one gin, the bar lets you pick a flavour of your choice, basis which the bartender concocts a gin-based drink for you. Deriving its name from the hero ingredient in gin — Juniper — the bar offers a collection of 40 infused gins. “The infusions are divided into five categories — floral, citrus, spices, herb & fruit — all of which revolve around the botanicals and medical history of juniper,” shared Jitender Semwal. Planning on a visit to this gin paradise? Then don’t forget to try his recommendations; Delhi snapper and Kerala Lady.
Where: Andaz Delhi, Aerocity, Delhi
A standout choice not only for fusion, modern Indian food; but also, for its sous vide gin bar! Being one of the only restaurants in Delhi NCR to have a sous vide bar, the gin infusions are made live. “The sous vide method allows us to flash infuse flavours into gin that would otherwise take much longer, likely over days. It’s a fun and interactive method that allows us to play with different combinations and involve the guest in the experience of creating different flavour profiles for gin, ”shares Sharma.Infused with flavour and topped with a tonic of your choice, this will surely give your palate a smooth ride. Some of the flavours available include — Gin X Chamomile & Lemon, Gin X Rose & Hibiscus, Gin x Lavender & Orange and Gin X Cucumber & Thyme
Where: 101, First Floor, Two Horizon Center, Gurugram
Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy
Cocktails and Dreams is a speakeasy nestled in Gurugram that champions gin cocktails. It is an award-winning bartender’s bar, known for its stellar cocktails. Most of their cocktails are gin-based making it a paradise for all gin lovers, from their signature Blueberry Bramble, Negroni, Cucumber Rickey, Southside or their Gin And Sin, made with aromatic bitters sweetened with some orange liqueurs. Set in a contemporary yet warehouse-like atmosphere this is purely a ‘Bartender’s Bar’.
Where: 23, Sector 15 Part 2 Market, Gurugram
Fig and Maple
Known to be one of the best spots for a Sunday brunch — and especially for crispy waffles — Fig and Maple also serves up the best G&T cocktails. The goblet glasses transport you into an immersive world of gin from chocolate, pineapple, marigold, beetroot, and fig. These off-beat gin concoctions will have you coming back for more.
Where: M-27, Greater Kailash II, Delhi
A one-stop shop for all juniper spirit-loving people, when it comes to cocktails, the first name to pop up ought to be Sidecar! While all the cocktails are a treat to the palate, the gin cocktails especially stand out — and you won’t be able to stop at just one. From citrus flavours to earthy ones, there’s something from everyone. We suggest trying their gin martini with a twist of cumin, orange peel, chardonnay and bourbon-soaked Marasca cherries, the Scott Rickey, Larkin G & T with roasted pineapple and honey shrub.
Where: GK 2 Main Rd, Block M, Greater Kailash II, Delhi
Jyran – Sofitel Mumbai BKC
The one and only exclusive gin bar in Mumbai Jyran is located on the fourth floor at Mumbai’s Sofitel Hotel in BKC in Jyran. Welcoming you to the space is a large art installation resembling a gin bottled and inked on is a detailed gin guide. Adding further to the ambience is the bar that shelves sourced from over 11 countries with over 30 brands.
An exclusive gin bar with stylish service, the gins have a range of exciting infusions like exotic tea, hibiscus, lemongrass, orange peel, saffron, chamomile and rosemary. But what truly makes the experience memorable are the tailor-made concoctions, and let’s admit it no gin and tonic of high quality can be prepared without good quality of tonic water.
Where: C 57, G Block BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400051
Dashanzi, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu
While this isn’t an exclusive gin bar, Dashanzi at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu, has a collection of over 28 labels from across the globe. Beverage Manager Bensan Varghese’s, Asian cocktails are worth looking out for.
Flavius Chettiar, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu shares, “Gin’s popularity is growing by the day and I believe it’s due to its accessibility and versatility, as well as the distinct flavors. With the city’s largest gin collection, we are constantly introducing new cocktails on the menu, but our Asian Gin & Tonic remains a classic and should not be missed when you visit Dashanzi.
Where: JW Marriott, Juhu Tara Rd, Juhu Tara, Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400049
Slink and Bardot
Situated in the narrow lanes of Worli is Slink and Bardot. Styled with plush interiors, it offers you an extensive list of G&T made with an endless options of house tonic water in varied flavours. Be adventurous and give the new flavours a try. From Grapefruit, plum and cloveto Carrot, coriander and Cabarnet and Cinchona, Indian spices, juniper berries, and citric acid, they will delight your tastes. However if G&T is not your style (and you wish to play it safe) then cater to your adventurous palate with the Barrel-Aged Negroni made with Beefeater, Martini Rosso, Campari or the Damsel in Distress – a combination of Chandon Brut, Tanqueray, Limoncello, sparkling syrup, Campari bitters.
Where: Thadani House 329/A Opposite Indian Coast Guard Worli Village, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400030
Toast and Tonic
Toast and Tonic started its journey story in Bangalore, before making its way to Mumbai. It’s more than a restaurant and bar, Toast and Tonic exists as a concept representing creativity and innovation. While the menu is comforting, their extensive G&T list makes this our go-to. With a focused section for gin-based cocktails, Toast and Tonic in Bangalore is just where you need to be for a delicious gin tipple.
In the heart of the city is Shiro. Quirky interiors with a giant statue of Buddha adds to the opulent appeal of the place. But it’s known for its Page 3 bar with enough options to suit every flavour profile. The cocktails are a mix of new concoctions and traditional staples. If you’re in the mood for a gin cocktail we suggest trying the Yamaguchi Sunset, a gin-based drink with peach and burnt orange chunks. With citrus hints, it’s refreshing and delicious.
If you’re in search of a bar with great ambience and stellar view and some theatrical gin-cocktail, High is where you should be headed. Try the Constellation, a gin-based cocktail with purple flowers that is a visual treat. Being almost too pretty to sip, once you dive in, your palate is refreshed with floral and fruity notes.
Where: 26/1, 31st Floor, Dr. Rajkumar Road, World Trade Centre, Brigade Gateway Campus, Malleshwaram