At a time when prohibition seems to be renewed, this time against the opening of decent bars, Lock and Key is an oasis. While it is advertised as yet another speakeasy – a cozy drinks parlor dedicated to the mobsters of the 1920s – and can easily be reduced to the PCO of the Gurg, it is actually a lot more interesting than that.
If we knew the establishment took Gilded Era interiors this seriously, we would’ve come in our flapper dresses. Half paying homage, and half re-inventing, L and K signs up to all the hallmarks of the Indian speakeasy genre: comfort, quality, and the opposite of lack - which, ironically, the concept of prohibition was predicated upon. Moreover, codes and passwords are swapped for warm welcomes and invitations to join a loyalty club. Secrecy and scarcity is over, but the nostalgia for it lives on, couched in the aesthetic of luxe bar.
We’re drawn to large, wall-dominating lettering that spells ‘if these walls could talk’ – perfect for your instagram photo; sapphire hued walls; and the red velvet seats that follow a Mad Men aesthetic. While the vibe is clearly an accumulation of a couple of Al Capone inspired Pinterest boards, it comes together well. Our favorite teller of attention to detail is the cut glass dishware: a vintage-looking decanter that would beam with your grandmother’s best sherry is casually used as a water bottle.
Familiarity and friendliness cement themselves further. A smiling lady in the corner – who we assume is either an owner or a friends’ friend – is quick to handover her power bank when she notices our digital struggle. The playlist is a welcome cross between dad’s favorites and the top of the pops. We sing along to Cat Stevens and halfway in to our second cocktail, Jim Morrison comes on.
L and K takes its cocktails seriously. The proof lies in the size of the alcohol menu, which is three times that of the food binder. Some of the names make us chuckle – Cereal Killer, which is a milk-based cocktail, for instance – and we appreciate how they balance with the usual suspects like Old Fashioneds and Milano Spitzers.
Finally, if your pit is as bottomless as ours, you’ll make a visit to the bathroom and stare at the cute mural of locks and keys, which only sneakily hint at chastity.
Our server helps us trim down our greedy order in to a list he considers representative: a mandatory whiskey sour, a sesame infused cocktail called The Black Ink, and a lavender and vodka based Purple Haze. While Black Ink is the unanimous winner of our hearts – you can really taste the toasted sesame – we love how each drink is presented differently. Whether in a silver plated tea set or a conical glass, care and creativity are palpable in presentation. Our only complaint - from which the sexy Blank Ink is exempt - is that the drinks could be stronger and easier on the sugar.
We order some food, dipping between small, medium and large plate offerings to pick pork samosas, a size zero salad, a falafel plate, and smoked prawn babaganoush. Each is tasty and fresh, cushioning the webs of gossip that encircle the place as nicely as shrimp around smoky eggplant. Moreover, every dish, like a good secret, is easy to share.
Finally, if your pit is as bottomless as ours, you’ll make a visit to the bathroom and stare at the cute mural of locks and keys, which only sneakily hint at chastity. Even though you may be a few drinks down, you’re sure to be lightly reminded of that one precious thing you carelessly gave the key away to, ignoring mother’s wisdom.
Getting there: Cross Point Mall, Sector 28, Gurugram, Haryana, Rs. 4,500 for two, two cocktails each and a few bites.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
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