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Best Bars and Night Clubs of India
 
EK BAR

It’s a glorious day, folks, because I’ve discovered a hidden gem in the culinary landscape — the new Indian cocktail bar by the Olive group in partnership with Chef Sujan S — where the smallest detailing from the ceiling artwork to the flamboyant wall art… from the fine crockery to cocktails served in porcelain tea cups… from a modern menu inspired by regional cuisine to cocktails made with premium alcohol and handcrafted using seasonal ingredients by mixologist Nitin Tewari! It may be named Ek Bar… but it will lure you to come back bar-bar! Okay I dont rave about a cocktail bar so much… so it must have left me with a lasting impression!

 

The first thing that caught my eye was the wall mascot above the table reserved for us — an elephant in aviators! The creativity doesn't stop there: the vintage-chic interiors is a kaleidoscope of rose-toned colours and textures. A split-level property, there’s a pink jaali staircase winding towards the roof overlooking Moolchand: this will surely be packed on winter evenings!! The server brought us menus once we were seated and I was floored! The bar menu winks at modern-day cocktail culture where we all want something different. Four large playing cards—Ekka, Badshah, Begum and Gulam—have cocktails printed on them, mostly inspired by Indian history. So while "The Royal Indian Punch” is crafted with whiskey, fermented kahwa tea, grapefruit and spices served in a tea cup, with ginger giving the illusion of tea, the story goes that the word "punch" actually came from the Sankrit term “panch" and was originally an Indian cocktail enjoyed by aristocrats during the British Raj. Women, in those days, drank alcohol in teacups to avoid being judged and that's how "high-tea" was born—hence the teapot and cups!! Like I said before… their spiralling success lies in the intensive research and fine detailing. Most cocktails have stories which the mixologist is happy to share! For example "Sher Singh" is a tribute to Tipu Sultan — vodka with curry leaves, egg white, green apple and date syrup! My favourite? "Murabba Mule" — a potent flavourful mix of Vodka, Aam Ka Murabba and Ginger Beer served in a rustic copper mug. Slurp!

 

Over to the snacks now! "It took me eight months to create the dishes on this menu" Sujan explained as I perused it. "Each and every item on the menu is Indian but you will not find these creative mix of ingredients, textures and presentation anyplace else. My brother and I intensively researched it and he is now heading the kitchen. It is better to take that extra time to open—but when we open it—it should be as we had envisaged it.” It sure is! Dinner begins with a seafood platter served on a brass thali packed with squid rawa fry, mud crab, Bombay duck cakes, the most sumptuous prawn sausages and moreish sole tikkas. Off-the-hook fresh and flavourful, it satiated the sea-foodie in me, and ensured I would be back again… and again! Up next was the non-vegetarian thali with a melt-in-the-mouth lamb galouti hot dog, Goan chorizo scotch eggs topped with chopped onion, duck pattice and chicken tikka sausage. A carnivores delight! Sujan suggested we must try his signature dish "Ek Bar—Granola" — dahi bhalla sorbet served with a tube of jhalmuri, tamarind gel and avocado. Closing my eyes, I was back in time in Calcutta, where jhaal muri was a must with tea. To have it as an adult years later in its modern avatar was mystifying. Had I not been stuffed I would have requested for seconds! And he saved the best for the last — the most deliciously fresh tawa-fried red snapper on a bed of popcorn khichri. I would have never guessed it was popcorn had the chef not revealed the ingredients! Another must-have!! Though we were stuffed, we did not have the heart to leave without dessert, and after much indecision, we ordered Banana Tarte Tatin, caramelised with jaggery and served with vanilla ice-cream. What can I say? It was heaven in a dessert bowl!

 

Two hours later as I pen this review… I feel the spiralling success of Ek Bar does lie in its creative interiors, cocktails and bar snacks. but it also lies in the one ingredient thats blended into everything there — passion. Quick efficient service, friendly management eager to describe the tale behind each cocktail or dish we ordered, and a fabulous central location are a bonus. At the moment its open only post 6:30 p.m. so do be sure to drop in one evening — iIknow I will! There are still some real tempting cocktails to indulge in! Cheers!

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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