Hot address: Ek Bar
Delhi's first Indian cocktail bar puts home-y flavours (murabba even!) on the bar menu
Modern Indian cuisine currently seems interested in mining and repackaging the supposed glamour of the Raj: think Gymkhana, the most well-reviewed restaurant in London, or Lutyens Cocktail House in Delhi. Ek Bar, too, is interested in Indian nostalgia, but thankfully ditches the colonial fetishism. Instead, restaurateur AD Singh (Olive Group) and chef Sujan Sarkar provide fresh twists on old local and home-style classics: papdi chaat goes East with the addition of tuna, avocado, and togarashi chaat masala, and tender pork belly heats up in a rich Coorgi gravy served with rice dumplings and pear chutney. Nearly all of Ek Bar’s ingredients are sourced locally, including the cheese for their cheese plate. Don’t leave without trying the Banana Tarte Tatin, caramelised with jaggery and served with homemade vanilla ice-cream.
The space is colourful, upscale vintage: a cerise jaali staircase winds towards a roof bar, while stylishly unfinished walls are painted in mauves and blues. A wood bar – one you can actually sit at – and brightly cushioned wooden furniture give the restaurant a warm feel.
Though Ek Bar is worth visiting for its nouveau Indian cuisine alone (mostly served in shareable platters), it is primarily a bar, and the cocktails, too – presented on a menu of playing cards – contain familiar home flavours: mosambi juice, haldi, and even murabba (from the bartender’s mother’s recipe, no less). Our favourite is the Royal Indian Punch, which, as the bar’s mixologist Nitin Tewari told us, was a drink appropriated by the British that Ek Bar is now re-appropriating. It’s a heady combination of iced kahwa, whiskey, grapefruit and spices. The idea of an Indian cocktail bar has always been a variable concept (if it was one at all), but we’re more than open to Ek Bar’s interpretation.
Meal for two costs approx Rs 1,500 (exclusive of alcohol and taxes)
Ek Bar, D -17, First Floor, Defence Colony, New Delhi. Tel: 011 4168 8811