India‘s answer to Silicon Valley, the tech-savvy city of Bangalore is becoming a hub for pubs. While catering to business travellers, Bangalore has also been recently crowned India’s best student city due to its universities. And as we all know, where students go, revelry follows. From super-cool cocktail bars to quirky little watering holes, we explore the best bars for the most perfect drinks in Bangalore.
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Cosy seating, Led Zeppelin and the Who posters, album covers and huge illustrations adorning the walls – Pecos is for drinkers who also like a tipsy hoof-about on the dance floor. In the midst of the CBD, it was a forerunner in the scene, opening as a retro-rock, blues and jazz establishment in 1989. There are now a bunch of Pecos around town, all serving solely draught beer (Kingfisher included) and small plates like beef chilli and French fries. Sit inside, under dim, atmospheric lighting playing on red walls, or make the most of the weather outside on comfy seats.
With stacks of great wine and a whole menu of champagne cocktails, 13th Floor at the Ivory Tower Hotel in the Barton Centre is a rooftop lounge retreat and then some. Whether you’re here before dusk or after midnight, you’ll be wowed by the Bangalore cityscape spreading all around, and the changing colours of the darkening sky. The murmur of conversation is louder than the low-key music – a mix of retro pop, lounge mixes and rock ballads – and T-shirted tech execs socialise alongside parties of women celebrating the end of the working day. Summon a plate of chicken satay and a rosemary-infused G&T and chill into the evening.
Tucked within UB City shopping mall, Skyye has to be the highest, most stunning bar in town. It’s a rooftop affair with masses of creative flair: expect low neon lights and an illuminated floor bathing dancers in a rainbow of colours. The cocktail list is an adventure merely to read. Perhaps you might fancy A Devil in the Night Skyye (dark rum, Bailey’s, chocolate syrup, hazelnut)? Check updates for various art exhibitions, book readings, local stand-up performances and karaoke nights that welcome visitors to Bangalore.
The Biere Club
Entering the Biere Club is almost like stepping into an Englishman’s privately owned brewery. At Bangalore’s first craft brewery, the aim is to show India everything about small-batch beer, from various styles to different flavours. They brew new and original examples, marrying the finest ingredients with traditional methods. The result for you: fresh flavours you won’t forget. Order snacky accompaniments – prawn popcorn, perhaps, and/or smoked-chicken pizza – and you’ll be set up for one of Bangalore’s loveliest, most laid-back nights.
As the name suggests, this place doesn’t serve anything boozy, but nonetheless it’s established itself as a firm favourite among the Bangalorean crowd: it’s an open bar-café that feels like a proper urban oasis, given the abundant greenery wherever you look. With a wallet-friendly menu and a chilled out ambiance, it is filled with college students and travellers looking for quick refreshment and entertainment.
Watson’s welcomes all thirsty and hungry Bangaloreans with open arms – which they may need to fall into after one too many curious-sounding Vinifera Twists (Smirnoff, red wine, grape juice and lychee). It is an agreeable rooftop bar, with interior decor that certainly turns heads: the brick walls and retro posters, along with balcony seating, impart a pleasantly nostalgic vibe. Settle in and admire the amazing view of Ulsoor Lake, perhaps ordering your first Vinifera Twist and something from the vegetarian selection – or a plate of classic chilli chicken.
It’s got foosball, a stage for live music (traditionally on Tuesdays and Thursdays), a long list of ales and plenty of sink-into seating – all of which makes Happy Brew worthy of its name. It’s one of the most upbeat spots in the Koramangala area, with brightly lit interiors – the upper chamber is very pleasant indeed if you can get a space, with a line of trees brushing the walls. Happy Brew won’t drain your bank account, and you’ll doubtless find yourself hanging around for hours – particularly if you’re here with a bunch of friends.
Housed in a huge, greenhouse-like building, also in the city’s Koramangala district, this airy, plant-filled spaced ticks all the hip-city-bar boxes. Inside, long communal-style tables sit enfolded within a jungle of potted plants, with bright pops of colour from the furniture elevating the atmosphere from architect’s office to house of fun. The food is contemporary and high quality – think traditional Indian “tiffin” tins, loaded with bar snacks, such as masala peanuts and moong dal (mung beans) or vindaloo fish and chips.
Byg Brewski Brewing Company
The setting is dream-like: the crumbling red brick ruins of an old factory or fort, converted into an open-air stadium of food and drinking, with a central pond overlooked by the wrap-around covered dining areas and drinking terraces. It feels modern and old-world at the same time – a standout example of innovative, resourceful architecture and landscape gardening. Oh, and the food and drinks are not bad, either. Think Indian twists on beer-hall classics: nachos, chicken wings and spare ribs.
High Ultra Lounge
Soaring above Bangalore’s fairly low-rise skyline, this rooftop spot is pretty special. Tables and chairs pressed right up against the glass walls give you an endless panorama of twinkling lights to sip swanky cocktails against, while a live DJ serenades with soothing beats. You’ll want to make sure you’ve given your going-out outfit an iron before turning up here, as you’ll find yourself among the city’s bright and beautiful crowd. The pan-Asian food menu is as chic as the mood lighting behind the bar and the artful cocktails being slid across it.
1522 the Pub
Like a 21st-century take on the classic Cheers look – all exposed brownstone brick, retro beer signs covering the walls and a rock n’ roll vibe to the music choices – this is where Bangalore’s laid-back millennials come to sink a few pints. There’s a great beer selection, including some Indian craft labels such as Geist, along with the more familiar names including Kingfisher and Budweiser. You’ll find plenty of atmospheric little seating areas to take over with a group of friends – or to loll in, deep into conversation with a date.
Want a lively night out, somewhere that has those bouncy nightclub vibes without actually being a nightclub? This is the place. With its elevated DJ decks overlooking the bar area, massive speaker system and disco ball, it’s got all the ingredients of a buzzy, heady night on the tiles, without the mosh pit and entry fee. There are quieter seating areas, too, so if you don’t feel like dancing, you can cuddle up with a cocktail and chat away instead. Food-wise, there’s pizza, burgers and sushi, but you’re really here for the cocktails, which are pretty and pack a punch without being overly expensive.
The Boozy Griffin
Squint, and you could almost, almost be in a central London pub. On closer inspection, the oversized red phone box and the Union Jack leather stools give the game away: this is a dedication, rather than the real thing. Still, it’s got a buzzy after-work atmosphere and sticky floors that would make any Brit feel right at home, while the cocktail menu (with British-themed entries such as Call Me a Cab – vodka, red wine and lime) will make you chuckle.
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