The old maketh way for the new and Bangalore sees ‘Drinks’ occupy the space that was the erstwhile Couch, on MG Road. The elegant and comfortable lounge is spread across two floors and you will see floor to ceiling paintings of gentlemen in top hats and ladies in snazzy gowns invoking the gangster vibe from downtown New York or Chicago in the 60’s. Encouraging you to play catch up over expertly fashioned cocktails by award winning bartender – Alfonso del Portillio, Drinks is a place that will appeal more to the suave office goer than the teeny boppers that litter Church Street. If Classic is the vibe you are after – Drinks is the place to be.
Considering they named the place ‘Drinks’, it is only fair to expect a heightened focus on the liquid menu! Thankfully with Alfonso manning the bar, that’s not a problem. The extensive cocktail menu has separate sections for concoctions with Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila and Whiskey. You can also skip the cocktails and pick straight from their lineup of premium spirits, but I suggest you give Alfonso’s bespoke creations a try.
The evenings are getting warmer, and a refreshing Gin seemed like a good way to start the evening. The Ramos Fizz#3 with Tanqueray, cinnamon syrup, egg white, lime juice and soda was proficiently put together by Alfonso. The silky smooth cocktail was perfectly balanced and the hint of cinnamon kept the drink interesting till the last sip.
We got ourselves a plate of Spanish Olives to accompany the cocktails and while it may not seem like much – this one took my memory straight to the bars in Barcelona. Every bar has a plate of gorgeous Olives marinated in Oil and herbs sent ex gratia when you order your drinks. The Drinks version was marinated in Citrus, Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary and Bay Leaf and definitely packed a punch.
It’s hard to mess up the Negroni and we din’t expect it to impress us much, but Alfonso’s version did! With Tanqueray, sweet Vermouth and Campari poured over a pristine globe of ice and dressed with an Orange Peel, this cocktail was comforting in its simplicity and perfect execution.
Another starter that I highly recommend is the Stuffed Dates. Succulent dates stuffed with Almonds wrapped with Bacon in a Cider Glaze. Need I say more?!
Bangaloreans will be happy that Drinks pays its tribute to our favorite rum – Old Monk. The Old Monk Punch is a happy medley of Old monk rum, cardamom, pineapple juice and orange oils. Served in a mason jar, this one probably goes best with peanut masala, but considering the restaurant specializes in modern European cuisine – you can order the Tempura Fried Shrimp and Calamari and be just as happy. For the record – the seafood was biting fresh!
I ordered the next drink because of what it was called. The Porn Star Martini. Cheap thrills – I know! This fresh martini is served with a shot of bubbly to make it more interesting. Absolut, passion fruit, Orange and lime get in cahoots with the bubbly to make this citrus-y drink extremely tantalizing, even without the attention grabbing name.
There is a section in the Drinks menu called Alfonso’s Alchemy, that has exotic sounding cocktails made with premium spirits like Chivas Regal 12, Ketel One, Bacardi Gold etc. The day you bag that big promotion is the day you treat yourself to Afterwork – Chivas Regal 12, triple sec, lime and chocolate bitters. Or you could just buy your boss one and wait for that promotion 😉
Because we had such success with the fried shrimp, we ordered the Escabeche. Traditionally the Escabeche is made with fish marinated in a vinegary sauce and is again very popular in Spain. The Drinks version had seared Prawns, marinated in Citrus and Sherry with smoked paprika, fresh herbs, grilled bread and Salsa Verde. The tang of the sherry and citrus combined with the lemony dill just made the prawns sing. And the sauce-soaked grilled bread – pure decadence. I loved it! Like truly, madly, deeply loved it!
Top-of-the-line spirits, bespoke cocktails and comfortable highback velvet chairs make Drinks a classier option for winding down after work than jostling for space (and a decent drink) at the preppie hangouts on Church Street. The Tapas are beautifully executed and are a welcome change to the regular French fries and chicken lollipops that most bars serve. They do have a decent lineup of food, including main course and desserts – so you can start the evening with drinks and end with a meal. But the piece de resistance at Drinks are the drinks – because anyone with a half-decent palate will come running back, once they have tasted the cocktails here. More power to Alfonso and his Bar Men.
114/1, Sai Complex,
MG Road, Bangalore 560001.
Ph: +91 80 4965 2950
Parking: Valet Available || Cost: Rs. 1800/++ for a meal for two with drinks