Mumbai Pub Scene

By Published On: 1 Sep '20Last Updated: 15 Nov '20

Mumbai is the 12th richest city in the world with population of over 24 million. The top 1% of the population holds nearly 3/4ths of the national wealth. There are millionaires and billionaires. There are the middle class like in every society and there are the poor. It is indeed a city of imbalance. It is a famous business hub and a financial capital. Mumbaikars work all kinds of hours and the working generation travel from one corner of the city to another. They have a fast- paced life and they never sleep, and life never stops. One really interesting fact to note is that Mumbaikars can make a really cheerful telephone call even at 2.00 am in the morning. This is because they are happiest people I have ever known, and nights do not deter them from making and receiving telephone calls.

Nightlife in Mumbai is unreal and is just as vibrant and fast paced as the day…

Mumbai was known as Bombay until 1995 however both the names are still used. I used to refer to Bombay residents as Bombayites but that has changed to Mumbaikars. Mumbai’s regional political party Shiv Sena came to power in 1995 and renamed Bombay to Mumbai because they felt that Bombay was a legacy of British colonialism. They wanted the city to reflect the Maratha heritage and renamed it to pay tribute to the Goddess Mumbadevi. The term “Mumbaikar” refers to a person who is born in Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra. Marathi is the official language of Mumbai and 80% of the population speaks Marathi on a daily basis. Mumbai is the busiest cosmopolitan city of India and English, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani are also the languages that are spoken, accepted and understood by many Mumbaikars.

Night life in Mumbai is unreal and is just as vibrant and fast paced as the day. All my visits to Mumbai in the last two decades have been jam packed with visits to family which I really look forward to but there is always a little time left for fun. I love to explore the many great street food stalls, pubs and restaurants although my husband only prefers fine dining in a relaxed and romantic atmosphere. We manage to strike a good balance between both while we catch up with old colleagues and friends. Mind you, we are all old now and we do it at a much slower pace than 10 years ago!

Traditionally, drinking is not a part of India’s social culture, but India is going global like several other countries. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Goa and Pune are embracing the vibrancy of the night life. I lived in Mumbai in the 80s and although I am only a social drinker, I would have to go high and low to find a suitable bar to chill out and leave all my worries behind in a fast lane city like Mumbai. The pub and the restaurant scene have evolved a great deal in the past few years and now I believe there are more than 500 liquor serving bars and pubs in Mumbai. You will find low cost drinking holes to dimly lit lounges, exclusive dance clubs and elegant bars. Mumbaikars are really spoilt for choice where there really is a pub or bar on every corner.

Mumbaikars like a drink and in this pub-centric city every suburb is dotted with bars and pubs catering to the rich, the middle class and the poor. Essentially the wealthier the suburb the more expensive the pubs and bars, be it for drinks or food. Some of the most expensive suburbs being Bandra West (India’s top actor Shah Rukh Khan lives Bandstand, Bandra West), Malabar Hill (the rich suburb of Mumbai where many celebrities and business tycoons live), Worli sea face, Juhu, Colaba/Cuffe Parade, Churchgate, Breach Candy to name a few with middle class suburbs being Goregaon, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Jogeshwari, Kandivali and Dahisar among a few others. If you are visiting a premium bar, you will be able to see the blend of class and culture where exotic wines, cocktails, mocktails and a variety of other liquor is served alongside some mouth- watering snacks. For sure, Mumbaikars know which pubs to visit and how much they want to spend. They also can refer you to a pub depending on your budget.

I asked some Mumbaikars about their next spot for their afternoon drinks and their experiences of some of the pubs and bars they have been to in their local area. I have come up with a few details which I found interesting and want to share these with you.

It appears there is a lot that goes into making a great pub and every pub or bar has a unique theme which distinguishes it from the rest. What’s best is every pub in Mumbai will quench anyone’s thirst!

The pubs in Mumbai are frequented by all ages and groups. In fact, most multinational companies prefer keeping their yearly/end of financial year celebrations in pubs because it gives them an added advantage of foods, drinks, music and dancing all in one venue. The pubs know perfectly well how to cater to the needs of an individual, a couple, a small group or the corporate world by providing them with suitable spaces within the pub to wind down, dance and have fun. While some pubs are small, there are pubs that are spacious, and the music is awesome. As Mumbaikars are used to living in small and large spaces, space to these people was never an issue but I was informed some pubs do a terrific job of space management and this little gem called the Tap at Andheri West, Lokhandwala Complex was commended for its space management. Hats off to Tap as I would love to relax at the Tap with a refreshing drink and some native preparations on my next visit to India, perhaps after COVID-19.

I was informed that it is not trendy to play a particular type of music however it depends on the crowd on that particular night. The pubs have days where specific type of music is played eg., Monday would be a Bollywood night. If you want to let your hair down in Bollywood style dancing, then you would not want to miss the friendly buzz on a Monday night, even if the next day is a working day. It seems the Mumbaikars have their own remedies to tackle the hangovers!

On the question of food, the comments were that Italian is well renowned across the city with fun appetisers such as Aranchani Risso Al Pesto, crispy fried Mozarella Sticks, varieties of wood fried pizzas and native Indian and oriental lipsmacking dishes for the spicy palette such as the ghee roast prawns, Haleem samosas, kebab platters, Sichuan chilly paneer bites, tofu, dimsums, just to name a few. It is interesting to note that the pub grub is tasty, delicious with generous servings and surprisingly even better than normal restaurants. With extensive Indian, Italian, American and oriental menus, a good meal for two would cost approximately Rs. 1000.00 to Rs 1,500.00 (approximately $30.00) but all said and done, this will depend on the location of the pub.

On the drinking scene, the answer to the question of preferred drinks in the pubs, it appears many young prefer beers, vodka, gin and whiskey collections and they do not like to fiddle with their drinks. Screwdriver and Virgin Mohito seem to be popular but it seems there is always a strong crowd in attendance for cold beers and whiskey. With women, the mocktails and cocktails created with house tonics infused with traditional flavours are very popular. If you want something different, just ask the bar masters and they will whip up fun cocktails for every taste. I have been told that the staff at some pubs are so friendly that they pamper you like a king! Perhaps next time I will ask the names of those pubs so you can have this information up your sleeve!

It was clear that safety was not compromised at the pubs visited by the people in question as they went as couples. Those who want to dance their heart out and let their hair down, will also go on their own and find a dancing partner. Essentially, pubs are safe for women even if they go on their own however, one has to exercise their own caution in public places as there are instances on a daily basis that women are harassed and molested by drunken men. Do take care while you are socialising in the pubs and on your way back home at night.

So, there you have it, a little information on the pubs in Mumbai. I hope you enjoy exploring this great city the next time you have a stopover and some of the great pubs it has on offer with some good brews, house-made dining options and friendly staff.

Stay tuned for some mouth-watering Mumbai pub classics coming to Deliciously Indian soon!!

Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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