THE Orientalists of yore believed Asia to be a place rife with temples, religion and spirituality. A land where monks and rajas ruled the roost. They imagined the continent to be a place of strict behavioural codes where “cutting loose” and “downing a peg or two” would surely be frowned upon. But with the growing influence of western culture, the Orientalists would be surprised to see a thriving bar scene in most Asian cities. So if you’re planning to visit Asia anytime soon, we give you a lowdown on the bars and watering holes that you cannot afford to miss.
SIROCCO SKY BAR, BANGKOK, THAILAND
This is arguably one of the very best bars in the world. The comprehensive cocktail menu is nothing short of phenomenal, featuring drinks that could leave even the aficionados flummoxed. However, the delicious drinks pale in comparison to the bar’s breathtaking ambiance. This rooftop bar promises a panoramic view of the city and the Chao Phraya river. The Sirocco Sky Bar is famous for being the world’s highest al fresco restaurant. The award-winning Mediterranean fare is sure to leave your mouth watering and the yoghurt mousse cake comes highly recommended. And if the excellent food, drinks and ambiance wasn’t enough – the bar also plays host to a number of jazz musicians of international repute. This is the ideal place to conduct a business deal when you really want to impress a client. Or even if you want to woo that very special lady. The bar has been listed under ‘Hot Tables’ and ‘Hot Night’ by the Conde Nast Traveler in 2005. It is open daily till 1am, however, the last order needs to be placed by 11.30am. The bar is located in the State Tower in Bangkok.
SUPERDELUXE, TOKYO, JAPAN
This is one must-visit watering hole that strives to redefine the meaning of avant-garde. It simultaneously serves as a bar, theater, library, art studio, kitchen and a school. Needless to say, this often the place where the movers-and-shakers of Tokyo are found to be partying. This warehouse style bar has an edgy and urban feel thanks to its minimal decoration. Neon lights dot the venue and a long bar serves up a host of hot-pink cocktails. A different event takes place every night and these range from film screenings to musical gigs. The venue is often closed for private events – the kind which every hipster Tokyo local strives to be invited to. Needless to say, it is imperative to make sure the bar is open to the public on the day you plan to visit. On an unrelated note, another factor that makes SuperDeluxe superfamous is that it is home to Tokyo’s finest microbeer – Tokyo Ale. This chic bar is located in Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku Tokyo.
BAR ROUGE, SHANGHAI, CHINA
This is the ultra-classy and uber-glamorous bar that has reinvented China’s nightlife. Bar Rouge sits pretty atop the sky-high Bund. The view of the Shanghai skyline threatens to all but sweep you off your feet. Add to that a terrace, and we’re sold! It is considered to be one of the world’s best bars and is arguably the pride and joy of modern Shanghai. In addition to the various highbrow international acts (which include the likes of David Guetta, Benny Benassi and Bob Sinclair), the fire show performed by the bartenders is worth a watch. The sleek decor exemplifies class and is in shades of violent rose. The bar is rectangular and elegant. The indoor seating is private and intimate and it is the perfect place to book a table for yourself and a handful of friends. It was deemed to be one of the top 35 nightlife spots of 2005 by the Conde Nast Traveler. However, this bar has also drawn a lot of flak for being “too pretentious”. This watering hole is located in Zhongshan Dongyi Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai.
AURUS, MUMBAI, INDIA
Far from the hustle-bustle, heat and dust of the average Mumbai street lies Aurus, a secluded and hard-to-find bar that is the safe-haven of Mumbai’s swish set. What sets it apart is its deck bar that opens up onto the beach. The low lighting, candlelit ambience and the sound of the lazy waves lapping at the shore make it the perfect place for a romantic evening out on the town. The cuisine of choice is European, and the talented kitchen staff work hard to create perfectly balanced textures and flavours. Some of the delicious creations that you can sample include Caviar and Escargot Pork Belly. And when you get thirsty, the bartenders can whip up just about any cocktail that you’ve ever heard of. One of the more exciting deals that they offer include a ‘wine flight’, which allows you to sample three imported wines and champagne (60ml) for the price of Rs 1,100 (US$21). Aurus is located at 12 Nichani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai. It is recommended that you make a prior reservation.
RYTHM AND BLUES, COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
The small island nation located to the south of India is a lot more famous for its temples than it is for its party scene. But the capital city, Colombo, has its fair share of bars and pubs – one of the more famous of which is Rhythm and Blues. It is well known for it’s live music scene, and the genres of choice include jazz and the blues. Sri Lankan bands vie to score a gig on the premises. But the real feather in the bar’s cap is its gorgeous outdoor seating (and not to mention – all the pool tables!) Given the mellow music, this is a joint that is a big hit among the expat community. The poisons on the menu include beers, brews and hard liquor. The food, while good, is nothing to write home about. The joint has a casual and bohemian vibe, but is very strict about its dress code. Do keep in mind that shorts, sandals and slippers are not allowed in this joint. Rhythm and Blues is located at 19/1 Daisy Villa Avenue, Duplication Road, Colombo 4, Colombo.
LAP, NEW DELHI, INDIA
This chic after-hour party space in Delhi is an interesting cross between a lounge and a bar. It belongs to actor Arjun Rampal, who is often said to be India’s answer to George Clooney. Needless to say, it is a favorite haunt among India’s actors and filmmakers. Lady Gaga performed at LAP a little over a month ago to a very select crowd, and she couldn’t help but rave about the elegance of the venue. Occasional shock-pop concerts aside, LAP leans towards the house and electronic genres of music. The menu promises some innovative new cocktails along with tried and tested favorites. One of the main reasons why Delhiites love LAP is that it allows them to just “be” – there is ample space provided to dance, lounge, and even conduct intimate conversations and business meetings. The bar has sophisticated patrons and is a favorite among the expat community. It is located in the Samrat Hotel, New Delhi.
Article by Rayman Gill