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What’s brewing in Mumbai’s latest bar

Mumbai's newest bar Thirsty City 127 is ready to take on the city's party district

Freshly brewed beers at Thirsty City 127. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Freshly brewed beers at Thirsty City 127. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Lower Parel’s mill complexes are a rambling warren of restaurants and bars. On dark nights it is often hard to distinguish one from the next with their rugged industrial chic vibe and European-style café fare. And although the neighbourhood has gentrified and become a major nightlife destination, change remains a constant feature of its topography. Everyone wants to open shop here because of its captive audience and yet there is no fixed formula for survival. Thirsty City 127 is the latest concept bar to take off in the Mathuradas Mill compound. Even though it is located across the popular Toit Taproom and Kitchen, this bar hopes to reach out to a completely different demographic. Their game plan is to be here for the long haul and create a roster of regulars by offering a customized experience.

Proprietor Vir Kotak is a maverick businessman with interests that span shipping, classic American cars, visual arts and, of course, beer. His first foray into the hospitality industry was importing China’s iconic lager Tsingtao and the Bavarian wheat beer Schneider Weisse into India. This was followed by the launch of Thirsty Beers, a home-grown brand offering Happy, a light lager, and Simona, a full-bodied German wheat beer, both of which are manufactured in Eastern Europe. Brewing his own beers was the next logical step, and that is why Kotak has started Thirsty City 127, a concept bar which combines a microbrewery with an inspired cocktail menu.

In a city which has its fair share of tap rooms, a microbrewery is a welcome change. “Space is always a constraint. It’s easier to keep an industrial facility in an area outside the city and then have your front-end space free for a bar. I like the idea of being nestled within the brewery as you are using it as art as well," says Kotak. The wrought iron grills separating the brewery from the bar are embellished with beer-related motifs like ears of barley, wheat and hops. A negroni in a squat Old Fashioned glass with a hand-carved ice sphere and a popping swirl of orange peel is at home atop the delicate mosaic countertop. It is this focus on detail that runs through the minimalist design of the space which is imbued with an understated glamour that channels 1950s Mumbai in all its jazz and art deco glory. The bar sprawls over 4,000 sq. ft and has a dedicated space which will be used for art shows, workshops and screenings as well as food pop-ups. The first event planned, timed to coincide with the bar’s opening, is a retrospective of the late Krishna Reddy’s paintings.

Despite the various aromas of fresh beer percolating through the air, Kotak is clear that it is not a tap room. “We are a cocktail bar which happens to have nice beer made on premise," he says. The menu, which is still in the trial phase, will be tightly curated with six freshly brewed beers on tap, 10 house cocktails and a longer “shadow" list that will include classics and customized offerings. Rohan Jelkie of Bar Back Collective, Delhi-based beverage consultants, has helped craft cocktails comprising the various elements that go into beer brewing. There is also a plan to offer two cocktails on tap, one of which will be a G&T. In a departure from many cocktail-forward establishments, Thirsty City’s tasting menus are designed around beers and cocktails and the food is added as recommended pairings. All of this aims to carve a niche for the bar and set it apart from the competition. While Vir Kotak believes that F&B spaces afford greater opportunities for creative disruption, one can only wait and see whether his experiment succeeds in this crowded party hub.

Thirsty City 127 will open to the public in the third week of October.

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