If you were to be told about Mumbai, most of the people you asked the question would tell you things like the rain, the excellent local train service, the crowd that they love to hate, the humidity and the culture with iconic places in all corners of the city were what defined the city. Well, they are right. There is something in Mumbai’s air that makes it inviting and unwanted at the same time. The population is constantly on the rise and yet the millions of people in the city all have an identity that adds some value to the city.
From the illustrious Dabbawallas who will deliver your tiffins on time no matter how far off you are, or the classic ‘Kaali Peeli’ (Mumbai’s taxi service) that will get you to the remotest corner of the city, or the ‘Maidans’ (grounds) that have given a lot of highly talented sportspeople to that nation and of course, Bollywood that has gone on and become one of the most widely recognized film industries in the world, Mumbai is a city that makes dreams come true and offers hope with its never give up attitude. An attitude that is ingrained deep within every person who is a part of the city, whether since birth or for a limited point of time.
Yet, there is a part of the city that does not get the attention it deserves, and that is the city’s drinks culture. Mumbai has been at the center of India’s history and food and drinks have been at the center of Mumbai’s long and interesting history since time immemorial. It has been there for a lot of celebrations that have engulfed the city in a frenzy, it has been a friend when the times haven’t been the best and it has been there when you were lazy to cook a meal for yourself. The drinks were there when the transportation was limited to BST buses and locals, upgraded to the ‘Kaali-Peeli’ taxis and it has been in great demand even when Uber and Ola and other taxi services have taken over the city’s transportation needs.
Image Source: 145 Kala Ghoda, Facebook
There is no dating back to when drinks became popular in Mumbai but there are places that have had a huge hand in keeping it that way. The iconic Taj Hotel, a two-minute walk from one of the city’s biggest attractions the Gateway of India, is a must-visit with their wines, spirits and cocktails having as esteemed regard as the place itself. South Bombay is one of the main attractions in Mumbai and it has been home to a lot of bars that have set the stage alight ever since the drinks culture started undergoing a change.
In a way, western culture has had an impact on how the drinks culture has changed in Mumbai over the years. With the nightlife starting to extend till the wee hours of the day, concepts like happy hours, ladies' night and more have found their way to Mumbai and it has helped change the culture. One of the other big factors is the influx of international brands coming in and targeting the Indian markets. This has given rise to competition and that has triggered the flexibility of bars as it has become convenient for them to provide different types of drinks at different rates, allowing more people to come in and enjoy a great time.
With the infrastructure changing drastically, people have found newer avenues to visit and enjoy. Open terrace patios, modernized bars, sea-facing restaurants and more have opened up which has led to a change in what people drink. It might not be such a big factor but it does contribute in decision making. As Mumbai has progressed to become one of the most sorted work destinations for the youth, it has seen the vibrancy and the needs of the youth increase as well. From the not so elegant bars where the lighting is dim, the food isn’t the best to classic combinations of food and drink that complement their mood and an exquisitely planned decor and ambiance, the city has everything to offer when it comes to drinks.
You can have drinks that will not burn a hole in your pocket (let’s face it, we all live on a budget at times) to the times where you can spend all that you want because it is a special occasion, Mumbai has it all. From having internationally recognized beers to places that serve their own brews, from cocktails that come with a twist on the classic versions and wine and dine (lunch too) scenes have become far more prevalent than they were fifteen years or so ago.
Image Source: Independence Brewing Company, Facebook
Internationally recognized chains like ITC hotels have their bars and restaurants in Mumbai and so do up and coming chains like Social. You can sit for a nice beer at Toit or White Owl, which are both pan India chains and you also have the option of enjoying craft beers at standalone breweries like Independence Brewing Company, Gateway Taproom and more. When it comes to wines and spirits, they are available at almost all the big restaurant chains and pubs, with Sangria being a popular drink choice. You can enjoy your spirits while dancing the night off with your friends, or you can enjoy them during a brunch in the suburbs at multiple restaurants. From enjoying wine near Marine Drive to enjoying a great glass of red at Truu Tram Trunk in Juhu, the options in Mumbai are endless in Mumbai today.
Perhaps that last statement is the game-changer for all those wondering what has actually been the biggest change in the drinking culture of Mumbai, the options have increased, and not just in one way. The options when it comes to brands are more, the options from a monetary point of view are more and the options when it comes to places where you can enjoy a great drink are more, and the good thing is that they continue to rise even more.
In the city that never sleeps, the drinks never end and neither do the options to drink. Mumbai is the city to be in for more reasons than one, and you can add its drinking culture to that list as well.