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A Bengaluru speakeasy hosts bar takeovers by the world’s top mixologists

ZLB23 at The Leela Palace Bengaluru brings the best bars from Mexico, Europe and Asia

The interiors of ZLB23 at The Leela Palace in Bengaluru.
The interiors of ZLB23 at The Leela Palace in Bengaluru.

These are exciting times for mixology in India. Bartenders are upskilling like never before, Indian bars are gaining worldwide recognition and bar takeovers by award-winning talents are taking things up a few notches. Earlier this month, Barcelona’s Paradiso which ranked number one on the World’s 50 Best Bars list this year, had a takeover in Bengaluru. The co-owners and husband-wife duo, Giacomo Giannotti and Margarita Sader, made the bar’s signature cocktails at the speakeasy ZLB23 at The Leela Palace Bengaluru.

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Giannotti said the three biggest trends in mixology this year are sustainability, low alcohol cocktails and technique-forward creative drinks. Sader heads the sustainability projects at Paradiso. “The best example of sustainability is to care about the things you use, and the everything that you work with everyday,” she says. This means not only being conscious of zero waste, but also training the team to adopt sustainable practices.

Giacomo Giannotti at Paradiso in Barcelona.
Giacomo Giannotti at Paradiso in Barcelona.

They have a menu that changes annually. This year’s menu, The Evolution of Humankind, pays homage to discoveries and inventions in human history. For example, there is a drink named Tesla dedicated to Nikola Tesla's discovery of alternating current in the field of electricity. It is served on a wooden platter with the refreshing floral drink and a coil that can be turned on and off, like a lighter. When the drink is served, the coil is turned on which lights up the surface of the glass and makes it glow like a java lamp. Then there’s a drink named Copper inspired by the bronze age; and the smoky drink On Fire borrows from the discovery of fire and uses all parts of sweet potato, from flesh to peels. It is drinks, such as these, that has made Paradiso a destination bar for tourists.

Tesla and Copper were served at the bar takeover in ZLB23, along with several signature cocktails. Bengaluru’s drinks enthusiasts have much to look forward to in the coming months as ZLB23 will host takeovers by some of the best bars around the world. They have joined hands with the drinks publishing platform Dram Attic, which is run by Priyanka Blah. She is the academy chair—think of this role as an expert advisor—representing India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives at the World’s 50 Best Bars. Inevitably, the next bars to have takeovers at the Bengaluru speakeasy are prominent names on the 50 Best List. Watch out for pop-ups by Himkok from Norway, Florería Atlántico from Argentina and COA from Hong Kong at ZLB23.

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