Mumbai: 5 Great Places to Drink During the Festival

AER Mumbai - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of the Four Seasons Mumbai

AER at the Four Seasons Mumbai has reopened after the monsoon season. 

In a city that never sleeps and boasts a bewildering array of drinking options, The Hollywood Reporter lists the must-visit bars that have that something extra.

Bombayites love to say their city never sleeps and it's hard to argue with that, given the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the buzz of activity at all hours, but finding a great place to drink at night, particularly for newbies, is a little bit tricky. 

Any list of the best bars in a city is bound to cause debate and the not-unfair admonishment from locals and regulars pushing their own favorites, but The Hollywood Reporter's guide to the must-visit places to drink during the Mumbai Film Festival factors in a fundamental thing for non-locals to consider, namely Mumbai's chronic traffic. For many international visitors to the festival, time is limited, so bar-hopping is out and any place far from where you're staying is only for the dedicated. With that restriction in mind, here is THR's guide to the best places to grab a drink in Mumbai this week. 

AER — Bar and Lounge

This slick bar, housed at the top of the Four Seasons Mumbai, is perhaps the best plsce to get an evening drink in Mumbai for two major reasons: the rooftop setting offers breathtaking views of the city at night and the bar, along with The White Owl and the Blue Frog, is among the leading locations to get complex cocktails. Recently reopened after the monsoon rains, AER's menu includes a host of cocktail classics as well as distinctly local drinks like The Lucky Nut, which is a coconut-infused whiskey concoction. 

Open daily. 5:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. 

AER — Bar and Lounge, Four Seasons Mumbai, 1/136, 34th Floor, Dr E Moses Rd, Worli, +91 22 2481 8444

The Wine & Malts Lounge at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel 

India loves it whiskey, so it's no surprise that Mumbai has plenty of whiskey bars, but The Wine & Malts Lounge is conveniently located inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, making it an easy stop for the time-constrained traveler. There are over 100 wines and whiskies on the menu here that perhaps won't blow the mind of the connoisseur but is more than impressive enough for the occasional drinker. Best of all, most of the wines and whiskies can be paired with a selection of canapés, cheese boards and a charcuterie platter as well as a range of small bites. If you're feeling more adventurous and want to try whiskies outside of a hotel bar, then Kode in Lower Parel is said to have the most extensive selection in all of India. 

Open daily. 9:30 p.m to 1:30 a.m.

The Wine & Malts Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, +91 22 66653366

Olive Bar & Kitchen 

A perennial favorite of Bollywood's A-list, Olive Bar & Kitchen is arguably more restaurant than bar, but we're including it, given its popularity with the stars. Founded in 2000, Olive is said to be one of the places that made the Bandra neighborhood cool, and it's white-washed Mediterranean-style interior has hosted many famous and infamous nights out in Bollywood history, most notably the night Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan reportedly got into a brawl at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party. There are now Olive outposts in other Indian cities ,but the original, which has thrived despite the fickle tastes of Mumbai's elite, is worth a visit if you can make a booking. 

Open Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. to midnight; Thursday through Sunday, 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. 

Olive Bar & Kitchen, No. 14, Nargis Dutt Rd, Union Park, Khar West, +91 22 4340 8228

The rooftop, Soho House Mumbai

OK, OK, unlike Cecconi's restaurant and The Allis cafe on the ground floor, this rooftop pool/bar dining area is only open to Soho House members, so no casual walk-ins. However, given the high probability of membership among festival attendees, you can always find someone to sign you in. A great place to people watch, the 11-story rooftop at Soho House offers incredible views of Juhu Beach and the Arabian Sea and is a perfect place for gin & tonic sundowners and also serves food. Be warned, however, Mumbai's main airport is not far away, so the odd jumbo jet roaring over head is to be expected. Another bonus of this place is that it is a short distance from the festival's main site of the J.W. Marriott and is not far from most of the screening cinemas. 

Open daily, 7 a.m. to midnight. 

Soho House Mumbai, 16, Juhu Tara Rd, Chandrabai Nagar, Santacruz West, +91 22 6213 3333

Leopold Cafe

A left-field choice, perhaps given the heaving numbers of tourists, is the Leopold Cafe, which is worth a stop for visitors interested in the heritage of Mumbai; people who don't want to pay a fortune for a gin and tonic; those staying at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel around the corner; or those marooned in South Bombay seeking a refuge. Despite its outward appearance and gaudy signage, the Leopold Cafe traces its history back to 1871 and has always been a popular spot for foreigners visiting Mumbai. The cafe even makes an appearance in Gregory David Roberts' incredibly popular novel Shantaram (soon to be adapted into an Apple TV+ series). Its recent history has been touched by tragedy as it was one of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, but it has bounced back with admirable grace and is busier than ever. There's a no-frills vibe to the Leopold, so don't expect fancy cocktails, but if you want somewhere to talk loudly, eat a few things and drink until late, then there are few better places. 

Open daily, 7:30 a.m to 12:30 a.m. 

Leopold Cafe, Opp Olympia Coffee House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba Causeway, +91 22 2282 8185