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A toast to happy hours

india Updated: Dec 06, 2010 16:57 IST
Nivriti Butalia
Nivriti Butalia
Hindustan Times
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Bloody Marys have always been the need of the hour. It doesn't matter what day of the week. But for us hard working feature-writers at Weekend HT, Mondays are particularly rough - if just for the brain wracking ideation we do at gunpoint.



Post brainstorming, happy hours seemed to be a unanimous idea for 'research'. And I nominated myself as the investigator to hunt down the best happy hours deal around town. From the 'sports bar' named Superstars in Sector 18 Noida - pool table and all - to the it's-so-cheap-it-has-to-be-illegal Hotel Gem Palace in Paharganj, we've covered 'em all.



A decade ago, much before my wisdom teeth had sprouted, a few esteemed colleagues remember days spent downing Old Monk rums and Gilbey's Gin at CP joints such as Laguna, Alps, Volga - both hubs of live music, Pegasus, Lido, United Coffee House (UCH) and DV8.



WineThose were the days of the 'two plus one' or a 33% off on your IMFL (mixers had to paid for separately). And while only two survived the test of time (Lido and UCH), the deals have only gotten better.



Back in college, The Supper Factory, Storm, Mezz, M52, Thugs, Pebble Street and Flames were legendary. But as a somewhat mature adult, seedy feels a bit passé. That said, the winter before last, I had partially moved into the restaurant Taste of China at Connaught Place with my work fellows, Ruchira Hoon and Praveen Donthi, to nurse our Bloody Marys and our Achy Breaky Hearts. For four refills (and 'one plus one' deals) we'd pay a nominal Rs 500 a head. But as much as Taste of China is right up there, convenience, price and quality of service wise, it's hardly the ultimate hangout.

Non-five star joints where yuppies notwithstanding, there's some parts cool and some parts class, are plotted, for the most part, around south Delhi.

For reasons of membership, not everyone can enter the haven of cheap booze, The Delhi Gymkhana. And not too many places come close to the subsidised alcohol available there - maybe The Press Club (on 'Chamsford' Road - the spelling endorsed by the Delhi Metro), but we're working on the premise that not everyone is a form of pond life. In which case, there's Shalom in GK (the Vasant Vihar branch is shut), Hard Rock Café in Saket and Chonas in Khan Market.

In Gurgaon, I learnt happy hours is an elitist concept. The theka is the place to be. Buy booze, pour and drink right there. Plastic chairs will be provided. (Folks with opinions and good stories of Machan in Sector 56, and Las Vegas in Udyog Vihar, please email the writer).

American chains and thekas apart, in the opinion of my spirited co-workers, Jairaj Singh and Isha Manchanda, the coolest happy hours label best fits the institution that is 4S in Defence Colony - good service, cheap booze (one large rum is Rs 120), decent food, and your entire Facebook circle.

I'm told if you slip the doorman, Chauhan sa'ab, a cigarette (that he won't light till his shift is over), you will be blessed and assured a table upstairs. The downside of being a regular at 4S: you can't not bump into at least a hand full of bum chums, your air-kiss variety acquaintances. This, in the words of Miss Manchanda, makes meeting 'sources' (we are hacks, after all) or work people in that hallowed institution a bit of a nuisance.

To be honest, I find that the vodka at 4S has more water-less-vodka, but no such complaints with the gin and the whiskies, the beers and the rums. Apart from which, and unlike other joints with nasty lighting and cheap liquor, 4S is rarely shady, boasting of an almost null fat men-ogling-at-you factor. And the sesame toast - crunchy, oily, delectable - seems especially designed to line the stomachs of those who have to drive back somewhat sober.

Personally, I'd stick to TGIF (reopening in CP) at the malls in Saket, Vasant Kunj and Turquoise Cottage (both Vasant Vihar and Gurgaon). And if you don't want to be hit on by desperados - Bacchus (bachoos for the plebs), RPM and in Saket, Madhuban and Buzz - are the obvious no-nos.