I like my cocktails. Why must I have a stodgy old rum and coke when I can have an exciting Cuba Libre with a dash of lime? Or if you’re a vodka drinker like me, a fancy Cosmopolitan to sip at, whilst we elegantly drape one long leg over the other, at the bar counter? Or to go all James Bond and have a Martini – shaken, not stirred. Sounds dated? Well it is! With so many permutations and combinations of heady liquor and even headier liqueurs, you would expect the bars in Bangalore to offer us something other than creations from the 1960’s! Yes, we like our cocktails and yes, we order them religiously on a night out, but just because we are easy to please – doesn’t mean you don’t even try!! For lord’s sake, a single cocktail costs as much as a main course in some places and if I’m going to get Vodka topped with Cranberry juice from Tropicana – I’d rather give it a miss. (Ok, I lie… I’ll still drink it …but grudgingly). So finally coming to the point – LikeThatOnly (of all things Asian and Whimsical and Whitefield) invited a couple of us discerning drinkers (ahem…ahem…) to give their new Cocktail menu a go. 5 PM is a good time to start drinking, yes?
We seated ourselves at the long bar counter with two handsome men behind the bar. (That always helps – restaurateurs take note :P) While we checked out the, ahem…cutlery, Chef Manu Chandra gave us the lowdown on why LikeThatOnly had to be the one to take the plunge! LTO has set a benchmark in the city for its innovative food, quirky décor and often-irreverent take on the concept of traditional cuisine – It was only a matter of time before the bar caught up with the kitchen. With the cocktail making a comeback the world over, it was time to replace mindless sugary concoctions with house made bitters and artisanal gins. No, it’s not pretentious to call Bartenders ‘Bar Chefs’, if the final focus is on elevating the quality and the experience. We appreciate the effort LTO … we really do!
Seven was the lucky number of the day and we started the cocktail journey with ‘Misty Mornings’. Absolut Vodka shaken with Rose Petals and Fresh Lychees. Lychees and roses remind me of some exotic Chinese harem or if you want to keep it ‘A’ rated – Pierre Heremes’ Ispahan creations. He uses raspberries to balance the sweetness while Misty Morning resorts to vodka to do the same. Subtle, intoxicating and oh so pretty! Now, just because I used ‘oh so pretty’ in no way is it just a woman’s drink. Just saying.
Grape and Goats Cheese Salad? ‘Umm… No, it’s a Martini’, he said. (Keep Calm James Bond, Keep Clam). Was LTO going boldly where angels fear to tread? The combination of Goats Cheese and Grapes is classic, but in a drink?? Surprisingly, it works! I might even say that it was one of my top three this evening. The tangy wine infused grapes blended with the rich goats cheese and Absolut vodka, gives you a decadent drink. Give me some seared Foie Gras on the side and I can take decadence to a whole new level.
We had some great food to keep us company (and line our stomachs). Chef Prashanth kept sending us some delectable bar snacks from the kitchen. Krispy Fish Katsu Sushi Roll, Asparagus Tempura Roll, Minced Vegetable Gyozas, Beef and Jalepeno Dimsums, Chicken Satay, Crispy Squid, Coconut Prawns in Spicy Mayo and Spicy lamb Bao’s gave us a good reason to keep drinking 😉
We had another food inspired cocktail next. This time we were reinventing a Soup – the much loved Tom Yum. By now, my reservations were swept under the rug and I was keep to try this concoction. The LTO Tom Yum is a Absolut Vodka cocktail shaken with fresh pomegranate and tamarind. The flavors of Tom Yum are hidden in the vodka infusion – think lemongrass, birds eye chilli, galangal and all things that make the soup such a hit. When I first tried the cocktail I couldn’t taste anything but the pomegranate juice. Why were my companions raving about it? Looking at my ‘ho hum’ face, Manu asked me to sniff the pure infused alcohol. Still nothing. Then he poured me a neat shot of the infused alcohol. Gulp. Still nothing! This is when Monika stepped in and gave me a quick slap on the back and asked me to have a sip of water. Who knew I needed to cleanse my palate between cocktails? 😛 The water did the trick and I could finally distinguish the hit of chilli and the refreshing smell of lemongrass. Neat … pretty neat. Maybe I’ll order this instead of my soup next time 😉
LTO has these gorgeous passion fruit vines, dancing lazily across the path to the bar. They apparently yield the sweetest fruit. So LTO decided to put local produce to good use and created the LTO House Passion. (House. Passion. Get it? I love the play on words). Fresh Passion fruit pureed and shaken with Watermelon and Vodka. Taking a time out to tell you that all the herbs and fruits used in their cocktails are fresh and not some Manana squash. But knowing LTO, I guess that disclaimer was redundant! So back to their passion…it was overwhelming. No seriously, the Passion fruit flavor was just too intense for me. One half of the group loved it and one half of the group was reeling with the sweetness. The bartenders remixed the drink for me by watering down the passion fruit puree and that seemed to work a lot better. But the other group dissed my version instantly. Well, you win some and you lose some.
For the next drink I have to borrow the words from Mort (of Madagascar fame). ‘I like them, I like them! Before I even met them I liked them! You hate them compared to how much I like them!’. ‘Basil Bliss’ – you know I’m a sucker for Basil. Combine that with fresh Pineapple, Sweet and Sour and shake it down with a nice Gold Rum from Bacardi and you have yourself a winner. It’s not a mindboggling, super quiz – guess the ingredients kind of drink, but it does it’s work. And again, you know I’m a sucker for Basil.
The next cocktail could actually make every other cocktail go green with envy. It was not exotic like Misty Morning nor fancy like the Goats Cheese Martini but it was one after my own heart. The Bath Tub Special is a rendition of the classic Gin and Tonic and called so because the gin is infused with botanicals. So in its own way, its artsy as hell! Now bad infusions can result in Gin’s that are fit only for unclogging drains, but this one bucked the trend! Bombay Sapphire infused with secret ingredients (Truth be told – I forgot, but Orange Rind was one of them) blended with cucumber. I make a version of this at home with vodka, mint and cucumber but have to agree that the infused Gin makes a much better bedfellow. My number one this evening! (The Fried Crispy Squid tossed in lemon and chilli sauce was the perfect accompaniment to this one. Regular batter fried calamari can go hide in the kitchen.)
I am going to deviate from my cocktail session to sing paeans to the perfection that is the ‘Pork Belly on Skewers’. I think I died and went to heaven and then came back to earth to finish the platter. It’s that amazing! Slow braised Pork belly with a mustard miso sauce glaze results in the most succulent and melt in the mouth experience. Literally a food orgasm in your mouth! No I’m not going to censor my thoughts – I’ve had six cocktails already!
I was reluctant to try the last cocktail. Not because it was called Muddy River, but because I was still reeling from the Bathtub special and the Pork Belly. It would almost seem blasphemous to taint that memory with anything else. Add to the fact that I don’t much fancy Baileys and Kahlua! Coffee drinkers might rejoice, but I stay away from dessert cocktails. I’ll eat a nice Tiramisu, thank you very much. But try I had to. (Can’t end the journey of seven with six now, can I?) This after being promised that I’ll have another Bath Tub special to cap the evening. The coffee lovers loved it. Baileys and Kahlua topped with Vanilla Ice Cream and some fancy chocolate feathers. Don’t let the fuzzy demeanor trick you into thinking its innocent – it’s a potent combination, more so because of the liqueurs.
LikeThatOnly lived up to its claims of quirky, irreverent and most of all innovative. Head there for a drink and prepare to be taken on a whirlwind journey of fun food and even funner (I know Wren & Martin hate me already) cocktails. The music helps and so does the décor. And fairy lights always add to the magic!
Thursday’s are the new Saturdays. Head to LTO for their ‘ILikeThursdaysOnly’ for the best bar nights in Whitefield. Let them stir up some Absolut and Jameson cocktails for you while you snack on some delectable food and groove to some DJ beats. There’s no excuse not to party! For hard working souls (like me :P) why don’t you clock in the Second-Shift at LikeThatOnly on weekdays. Enjoy special discounts on your bar bills from 5pm – 8pm!
Like That Only
#14/31A – Hagadur Road,
(Behind Forum Value Mall)
Whitefield, Bangalore – 560066
Phone: 080 65475610
Website: www.likethatonly.com/ Facebook: facebook.com/Likethatonly
Cost: Rs.2500/- for a meal for two with alcohol
Parking: Valet available