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I’ve Spent Many Hours In Mumbai’s Cheap And Shady Bars. Cover Picture

I’ve Spent Many Hours In Mumbai’s Cheap And Shady Bars.

While the government is going berserk banning porn, sex in the privacy of hotel rooms and beef, we must say we’re thankful there are still a few places where we can find solitude amongst alcohol – with or without permit. There is no worry of procuring proof of age either. And while these bars look shady with dingy lights and dingier entrances, the least you can do is expect to hear some interesting conversation and watch as couples fight over their rum and / or make out. Statutory warning – if you are a South Bombay girl who worries about men who don’t look you in the eye or one of those who still doesn’t have the guts to go up and buy your drinks from alcohol shops, don’t read any further. This Disneyland isn’t meant for you.

Gokul Restaurant, Colaba: Don’t mistake this for a restaurant. It’s a cross between a bar, TV lounge and dining room. I’ve spent many birthdays here with malai barfi being distributed as cake and everyone cheering for the birthday girl. It’s only here that you’ll find cute men coming up and wishing you randomly. Gokul also sees young families with their kids drink without a worry. It also has chilled out people who steal tequila shots from unoccupied tables. Not to forget, the co-operative ‘kakas’ – the waiters – who bring you your smokes at every beck and call. And yes, you are allowed to smoke inside! Yay! Gokul is quite the Vrindavan for drunken kanhaiyas of SoBo and all over Mumbai.

Cute Guy Factor - 8/10

Drinks - 6/10

Food - 6/10

Freedom from moral police - 9/10

Gokul Restaurant, Colaba


Ambience, Lower Parel: How I love this place for being empty in the afternoon so that I can happily spend quality time with my fiancé! Make out as much as you like – there ain’t no CCTV cameras or judgmental aunties and uncles who will glare at you. Have loud conversations – no one will tell you off. Make merry until 6 pm until the crowd starts pouring in. But fret not; Ambience has a lot to offer. For one, you can get your pet here – the manager seems to be animal friendly since the whole hotel staff, him included, came and started playing with my white mouse instead of telling me to put him back in his box. There, I found a place in Mumbai where I can get drunk with my mouse by my side! Secondly, the chicks can rejoice since here is one cheap bar where you can drink freely without receiving boob stares. Ambience sees the corporate crowd which pours in from the adjoining towers such as One Indiabulls Centre, Indiabulls Finance Centre and other fancy multi storey buildings nearby. Lots of cute guys!

Cute Guy Factor -  7/10

Drinks - 6/10

Food - 8/10

Freedom from moral police - 10/10

Ambience, Lower Parel


Yacht Restaurant, Bandra: There’s only one night when this place let me down. Right after being on a high of listening to Bonobo at Mehboob Studio when my whole gang headed there at 10.30 pm, the shutters were down. Sigh! The high ended right there. Nevertheless, you wont  find cheaper booze ANYWHERE ELSE in Mumbai. But Yacht is not a place for cowards who look for safety – head here only if you are confident to stare back at men who stare at you. Nor is it a place for the weak-hearted who want pretty lights and sanitation – be prepared for muck and shoddy seating. This is Adarsh Balak aka Priyesh Trivedi’s ‘meeting point’ – yes, this is where you’ll find him at business meetings guzzling beer and discussing his next project. This is where I have had some brilliant ideas come to mind for a pitch presentation the next day. This is where I’ve had brainstorming sessions with my colleagues too. There is inspiration for those who will seek it at Yacht. Somehow, the sloppy curtains at the windows are interesting enough to look out of. All you need is some old monk. And great company.

Cute Guy Factor - 6/10

Drinks - 9/10

Food - 5/10

Freedom from moral police - 6/10

Yacht Restaurant, Bandra


Janata Lunch Home, Bandra: I’ve always had a problem with Janata being too congested for my taste. If you start frequenting Gokul, Ambience or Yacht, you’ll feel the pinch. But of all the bars I have listed so far, the food here deserves a mention over anything else – especially the chicken biryani. So much so that my best friend staying at Pali Hill orders the biryani at his house parties, and Janata, which stays open beyond 12 am, delivers it promptly, in gracious quantities. Another problem might be the place getting overcrowded in the evenings and you may have to wait to get a table especially over weekends. But then, right from break-up rants to love stories to fist fights – there’s all the drunken drama taking place at Janata. Drama queens rejoice! Also, the crowd here won’t stare at your tits so you can happily gossip away!

Cute Guy Factor - 6/10

Drinks - 7/10

Food - 9/10

Freedom from moral police - 6/10

 Janata Lunch Home, Bandra

If you are a young Mumbaikar and want your fair share of adventure and beer, go, spend an evening at these bars – I bet you won’t be disappointed. Hope that the police now don’t get these as new raid targets and I haven’t spoilt it for everyone!



Words and photographs by: Divya Naik