There are plenty of bars in Kolkata. An evident foodies’ haven, this city comprises eateries, restaurants and watering holes across budget. However, getting my occasional fix of cocktails remained a concern for me.
After a couple of years in the city, I can now claim that I have a few favourites. Unlike beer, cocktails require a certain atmosphere. And whenever I am in the mood for one, I negotiate my way to either of these bars.
The Factory Outlet
Coloured with bright pink, orange and purple, I’m drawn towards The Factory Outlet (or TFO) multiple times. The service is friendly and professional. Their menu is diverse and the food is interesting. Though my focus remains on their bar menu.
I have seldom diverged from their mojitos. Once I tried their Baked Expresso Martini, which was well created but a bit too heavy for my palate. But the one drink I keep going back to is the Burnt Orange and Ginger Basil Mojito. In comparison with their Korean Kimchi Mojito, Gondhoraj and Aampanna Mojito and Bubblegum Candy Floss Mojito, the Burnt Orange wins the game. The Bubblegum variation was too sweet for me and wouldn’t sip it again. The traditional mojito is too light. I have often missed the taste of alcohol in it. But it is very refreshing.
For whisky lovers, their list is expansive. Even though I love beer, I’ll be happy to give it up here for their cocktails. I’ve rarely come across a bar which experiments this successfully with their alcohol.
Must try: Burnt Orange and Ginger Basil Mojito
Happy Hours: 12 hours – 1800 hours
Address: 5th Floor, Westside Building, Block D, Camac Street, Kolkata. (Map)
Afraa’s biggest advantage is the ambience. Situated on the 6th floor of City Centre 1, for the longest time, it enjoyed unobstructed view of the flat locality of Salt Lake. With the paused metro line construction, the view has been somewhat altered but not the incoming crowd in Afraa.
The electric icy-white decor and the attentive staff is always welcoming. Though I wish their food was better. On many occasions, I visit this lounge only for a drink or two.
Their French Tea is quite an exquisite blend. Made with a mix of white wine, white rum and vodka, this cocktail is tasty but heat-producing. It worked beautifully for me on a winter evening but I immediately regretted sipping it on a spring day. Even though very basic, the classic Mojito here is done perfectly. Fresh mint leaves, potent white rum and the crushed ice makes me fall in love with it time and again.
Must try: Classic Mojito
Happy Hours: 1230 hours – 2000 hours
Address: 6th Floor, Block G, City Centre 1, Sector I, Salt Lake, Kolkata. (Map)
Abcos Food Plaza
The 15-year old Abcos in Salt Lake is a bit of an introvert in the business. Essentially a restaurant across four storeys, they are known for their Indian and Chinese cuisine. Guests who come here seek traditional spirits or beer.
Opting from a Barman’s Special in their bar menu introduced me to a variety of cocktails. Depending on the base alcohol I chose, the barman created certain special concoctions. To add to that, their range of summer cocktails is specially enticing. I have tried six of their new experiments.
I’m torn between the Watermelon Martini, Coco Loco and Cucumber and Basil Gimlet. I loved freshness of watermelon overpowering the vodka in the first (I don’t enjoy vodka anymore). In Coco Loco, tequila and white rum is beautifully fused with fresh coconut water. Served attractively in a coconut shell, this one is lighter than the looks of it. However, the Cucumber and Basil Gimlet wins my heart. A delicate mix of gin with fresh lime juice, the cucumber adds a natural freshness to the drink. And basil, a herby flavour.
Abcos Special Mojito and Spanish Sangria are next in line for me. Both served chilled, the wholeness of the mojito’s chunky fruits, and the cointreau and red wine in Spanish Sangria are delectable.
Must try: Cucumber and Basil Gimlet or Abcos Special Mojito
Cost: ₹300 and ₹375, respectively.
Address: IB-172, Behind Columbia Asia Hospital, Sector II, Salt Lake, Kolkata. (Map)
Disclaimer: I have a personal connect with Abcos. My views, however, are undiluted.
Read: Brewbot, Mumbai
Mezzuna is a causal fine dining restaurant. They get the basics right—great food, attentive service, scrumptious presentation, sufficient music and varied liquor. It is one of those restaurants where I’m sure I’ll have a great time.
From their signature creations, I tried the Guns & Roses once. It just did not work for me. The white rum with peach and hints of sourness was a combination that my palate did not accept at all. On the other hand, they work magic with classic combinations like mojito (again) and sangria. I have to admit, Mezzuna make the best red wine sangria I have tasted anywhere in Kolkata. Served at the right temperature, the mix seems to have got its time to ferment.
Must try: Red Wine Sangria
Happy Hours: 1500 hours – 1900 hours (weekdays)
Address: 4th Floor, Forum Mall, 10/3, Elgin Road, Kolkata. (Map)
The Corner Courtyard
I love the days in The Corner Courtyard. I’ve spent a couple of afternoons here immersed in engaging conversations. However, the decor and the food only add to the charm of the place. One of the things that continues to surprise me about TCC is the amazing silence. Located on a busy street in Kolkata, the space has been designed to keep all the noise out.
From their bar menu, I’ve loved their Indian Summer. A delicious mix of cucumber and basil with gin, this one was a perfect afternoon drink to beat Kolkata’s humidity. I found the presentation in accordance with TCC’s decor—charming and light. I thought they could work on their mojito. However I must admit, the food here takes precedence over the alcohol.
Must try: Indian Summer
Address: 92B, Sarat Bose Road, Near Hazra, Hazra, Kolkata. (Map)
Have you been to any of these bars?