Monday, July 21, 2008

Bar Tales of three cities, Dewars : Bangalore

Its not owned by John Dewar or Tommy Dewar, the family that has been making scotch since 1846. Its owned currently by Vardaraj in Banglore is located on 3, Cockburn Road !!!!! in Frazer Town.

My friend Rajesh Kanan in Bangalore told me last winter, when I was launching Mint (the business paper with "Wall Street Journal" and nursing a couple of broken ribs),"let me take you to a interesting (or was it cute) place. Rajesh freely uses the word cute in place of interesting.

Cute and interesting it was, housed in a old 19th century Victorian pub building with marble top tables, wicker or more like rattan chairs, wooden partitions. There were four of us, i ordered a quart of whisky, rajesh had dark rum and Nitin (intelligent friend and collegue), whom I call Senator Choubey as he is going to study public policy at Bekeley and Poonacha ( a newspaper exec and part time coffee planter from Coorg) had Vodka with some mixers.

The came an interesting deluge of eats , snacks, fillers, Rajesh said they have a limited menu, fillets of fried fish, bheja fry (brain fry), chilly chicken and was it liver. I enjoyed it all, I am not a great fan of liver.The most exotic was the fish, in its simplicity and astonishing freshness and taste. Large fillets, probably the most expensive in the entire spread.

The crowd was, partly anglo indian, some advertising guys, some regulars who had some businesses and spoke good english , however at the bar there were some barefooted lungi folded in for a quick shot. The place had English ghost air to it with a wooden bar (dark wood, can't tell which), pictures of Gods and Godesses along with some old british pictures overseeing the proceedings at the bar.

The common thread that runs common in three bars (Iam writing about, Janata, Dewars and Chotta Bristol)is the simplicity, democratic and somewhere deep down appeals to a socialistic sensibility I carry around, despite everything.

The commercials were settled (as Raju pullan would say) by Nitin Chaubey in cash As I don't think they accept credit cards. The bill was a stately sum of Rs 800/- or so in circa November 2007.After many visits to Bangalore since November 2007, (probably 4 visits) and often talking about this bar and sometimes fantasizing about it.

Rajesh and I agreed to go to Dewars on cold rainy evening on 2nd of July 2008, lets start early, the same feeling, its cold, lets drink a lot and eat all we can and we don't have to spend so much. Reached Dewar's at 6.30 pm, its shut tight(aghast, Iremember speaking to the owner, its open all days and 11 am to 11 pm), diappointed. We said to ourselves lets go somewhere else and comeback. Went To Jayamahal palace had a few drinks in a portico facing the lawns and watching the rain. Went back at 8.30 pm and Dewars was shut tight. It had a look it has'nt been open for some time. I wish it well and a quick opening. There are very few places with character, economy,simplicity and deocratic nature left, feels like a William Tel Sackett entering a bar in Louis 'L Amour novel in the heart of an urban Bangalore.Anyone who has visited Dewars and knows its open, live and kicking. Please do let me know, It will help me sleep better and motivate me to visit bangalore sooner.I know Dewars and all these legendary bars have meant different things to different people especially for a bar like Dewars which has been around for many decades even before independence, with interesting stories to tell and the their closeness to an institution, This is my take and tribute to it.

So Long....let me gather my words and images from by recent memories of chotta bristol at Kolkatta

9 comments:

Sandip Ghose said...

an honest bar must have character which comes only with age - like single malt matured in oaken casks. and character is what the old english and irish pubs had and the modern day 'resto-bars' sorely lack.

S. SUBRAMANIAM said...

Dewars in Bangalore has opened again. I visited last Saturday (20th December).

Samil said...

Dear Subramaniam,

Thanks a lot for the info. I am delighted. Will definitely go, when I am In Bangalore.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the drinks and snacks there.

Warmest regards and seasons greetings,

Samil Malhotra

Gargi said...

it has reopned, in fact i was penning a blog on same when i came across yours! totly loved the atmosphere!

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