Drinking and nightlife in India

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in New Delhi

    1911

    The Imperial, built in the 1930s, resonates with bygone splendour. This bar is a more recent addition, but still riffs on the Raj. Here you can sip the perfect cocktail (₹1000) amid designer-clad clientele, against a backdrop of faded photos and murals of maharajas.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in South Delhi

    Piano Man Jazz Club

    The real thing, this popular, atmospheric place with proper musos is a dim-lit speakeasy with some excellent live jazz performances.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Social

    Colaba is the best of the locations of the hip Social chain, which combines a restaurant/bar with a collaborative work space. The happening bar nails the cocktails (from ₹295) – the Acharroska is the perfect marriage of Indian pungency and Brazilian sweetness. The food (mains ₹190 to ₹490) spans everything from Bollywoodised fish and chips and poutine (French fries and cheese curds topped with gravy) to Thai thalis and great Parsi dishes for breakfast. There are also Social locations at Todi Mill in Lower Parel and Khar.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Leh

    Lala’s Art Cafe

    Entered beside a 2000-year-old Dhyani Buddha stela, this tiny, traditional temple-like house was saved from demolition and immaculately restored in 2006. Stone steps lead to an atmospheric cafe with floor seating and a small art display; a ladder stairway continues to an open roof terrace. Serves coffee, khambir (Ladakhi bread) sandwiches (₹100), cakes (₹80), local juices, and fruit or mint lassis. Be sure to check out the Buddhist stone carvings hidden on the ground floor. Ask about the weekly momo making (Monday) and weaving (Sunday) classes.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Bengaluru (Bangalore)

    Third Wave Coffee Roasters

    A mecca for hardcore java heads, this temple to the arabica bean has a multitude of gourmet-coffee combos, including espresso classics, quirky cold brews like coffee colada (with coconut water and the sweetener jaggery) and seasonal specials. Coffee culture is a serious business here. The Third Wave scene is young freelancers on Macbooks, polished-concrete floors and acoustic tunes on the stereo. Food wise, there's a snacky menu of salads, egg dishes, bagels and sandwiches (most ₹165 to ₹220). There are three other branches in the city.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Panaji

    Cafe Mojo

    The decor is a dark cosy English pub, the clientele young and up for a late party, and the novelty is the e-beer system. Each table has its own beer tap and LCD screen: you buy a card (₹500), swipe it at your table and start pouring – it automatically deducts what you drink (use the card for spirits, cocktails and food, too). Depending on the night there might be live music or DJs and there's a new dance space upstairs.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Koinonia Coffee Roasters

    Mumbai's best speciality coffee is served in this tiny Third Wave coffeehouse in atmospheric Chium Village. Single-origin Indian estate coffee is roasted in-house with a top-end Probat roaster. It comes cold-brewed, via Clever and Aeropress methods, as exquisite espresso (₹140), or with a dollop of ice cream from the affogato bar. Selections include salted caramel, Pondicherry vanilla or dark chocolate Italian truffle oil.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Independence Brewing Company

    A California-trained Indian master brewer oversees the craft at this trendy new Andheri West taproom from Pune-based Independence Brewing Company. Nine of the 10 taps are devoted to IBC brews, like four-grain saison, juicy Indian Pale Ales (IPAs), occasional sours and one of India's only double IPAs. There's Bollywoodised bar food to go along with it (grilled pickled paneer sandwiches, hot paprika wings).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Mumbai (Bombay)

    Toto’s Garage

    A highly sociable, down-to-earth local dive done up in a car-mechanic theme, where you can go in your dirty clothes, drink draught beer (₹200 a glass) and listen to classic rock. Check out the upended VW Beetle above the bar. It's always busy and caters to all kinds. Its facade took a beatdown from a municipality bulldozer for extending without permits in 2017, but its innards kept on truckin'.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Jaipur

    Curious Life

    The latest coffee trends brew away in this showcase of Indian hipsterhood. Single-origin, espresso, French press, AeroPress, V60 pour over – you name it, you'll find it brewing here among the predominantly 20-something crowd. There are also smoothies, shakes, pancakes and muffins. The coffee chemistry going on behind the counter borders on the obsessive – just how the customers like it.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Bengaluru (Bangalore)

    Brahmin's Coffee Bar

    This terrific darshini (South Indian cafe) is famous for its filter coffee (₹16). There are only four food items on the menu: idli (fermented rice cakes), vada (deep-fried lentil savouries), khara bath (semolina and cashew snack) and kesari bath (sweet made with ghee). It makes a good pit stop between the centre of town and the Bull Temple.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shimla

    Brew Estate

    Shimla's first brewpub is a large, hip, party space around a central bar-island serving its own trio of well-balanced German- and Belgian-inspired ales (half-litre ₹345) along with Jägerbombs, 'jello-syringe' shots and cocktails made by bottle-spinning mixologists. There's a wide range of international nibbles from mo m os to tacos to Moroccan kibbeh and mezzes.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Arunachal Pradesh

    Dharma Coffee House

    A stunning find on the road to Tawang Gompa, this alpine-style wood-and-brick cafe brews proper cappuccino, a range of teas and delicious cakes (banana-walnut, pineapple upside-down) as well as other comfort foods. With its clean, calm environment, cushioned cane seating and glass-topped tables, it's the kind of place you'd be happy to discover in the Alps or Scandinavia.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Delhi

    Jugmug Thela

    Another hidden surprise in Champa Gali – the mini art enclave down Lane 3 behind the fake Dilli Haat store – this tea specialist has more than 180 herbs and spices to work with. It serves delicious ayurvedic teas and other blends, plus organic coffee and fabulously unique sandwich combos (spicy potato and pomegranate; almond and banana) that shouldn't work, but do.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Jaipur

    Lassiwala

    This famous, much-imitated institution is a simple place that whips up fabulous, creamy lassis in clay cups. They close when sold out – so get here early to avoid disappointment! Will the real Lassiwala please stand up? It’s the one that says ‘Shop 312’ and ‘Since 1944’, directly next to the alleyway. Imitators spread to the right as you face it.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in New Delhi

    Unplugged

    There's nowhere else like this in Connaught Place. You could forget you were in CP, in fact, with the big courtyard garden, wrought-iron chairs and tables, and swing seats, all under the shade of a banyan tree hung with basket-weave lanterns. There's live music on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings: anything from alt-rock to electro-fusion.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Leh

    Ja Khang

    Excellent coffee from a Faema machine served in an uncluttered pine interior that has a traditional Ladakhi-style seating area, simultaneously balancing the modern and traditional. Tibetan folk music creates a mellow vibe and there's more space than most Leh coffee shops. It's upstairs above Jigmet Couture. Profits to the Ladakh Heart Foundation.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hyderabad

    Prost Brewpub

    A highly popular, cavernous brewhouse with five tap beers, including an English ale and a stout, plus cider. There are several zones, all stylishly lit, including ample outdoor space and an extensive East-meets-West pub-grub menu (egg fritters, Cajun potatoes, Jeera coriander prawns). Also hosts comedy (every Thursday), DJs and live music.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Delhi

    Blue Tokai

    Found in a magically unexpected art enclave called Champa Gali, down a lane beside the fake Dilli Haat shopping centre ('Delhi Haat'), Blue Tokai is one of a few cool cafes here – but it's the one the coffee aficionados come to. They grind their own beans here and you can get serious caffeine hits such as nitrogen-infused cold brew.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hyderabad

    MOB

    A stylish, sociable Belgium beer house that draws a refreshingly mixed-gender, mixed-age crowd. Try a 'beer platter' for a sample of four choice brews, while on the menu you'll find good fish satay (₹350), fiery prawns (₹445) and other pan-Asian bites. There's live music on Saturday nights. It's 4km west of Banjara Hills' Rd No 1.