Hammer & Song has one thing that most Mumbai bars do not possess: space. It needs to be populated still, but when a mean Boulevardier exists, the bodies will follow (we hope).
Readers, come hang in this massive two-storey bar, moodily lit, washed in greys and blues. They are screening the cricket match when we visit, a reminder that Hammer & Song can fit two opposing sides and then some.
We stop by for pre-drinks and small plates on Saturday night, but end up lingering until closing time. You’ll see why.
Madame Chair Person
Big points to Hammer & Song for exceptionally comfortable seating; our drinking companion wants to take his chair home. On offer instead is a mix of Gateway and Independence brews, which we skip for a round of cocktails.
Like a lot of bars today, H&S is making its own limoncello liquor, and while we don’t taste it individually, it adds a subtle zing to a Cosmopolitan, shaken with Aperol and cranberry juice. A tall Negroni Spritz takes the concentrated flavours of Negroni and lightens it with soda for an easy-to-drink cocktail that’s still better than the sum of its parts – gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. An Old Fashioned, alas is not the best in the city (as the menu claims); it’s too generous with sugar, but still retains some caramel hints.
The service here is shaky, but we’re hoping that Hammer & Song will soon find its groove.
The bar bites menu will make Flamboyante regulars happy (both restaurants at World Trade Centre are by Fountain Hospitality). To nosh, we order a knot of small plates – well-seasoned black pepper-panner and chicken kebabs that are easy to eat in between drinks. Stay clear of truffle edamame dumplings though, encased in gluey skins and ruined with a heavy hand of truffle oil. Lotus stem nachos although a mish-mash - featuring jalapenos, oriental spices, crispy stems and sour cream - make for an interesting bowl. Less successful are prawn skewers that can do with a more robust rub than the lemon coriander salsa they are served with. A competent margarita flatbread should be more generous with cheese, but is quickly devoured nonetheless.
World Raid Centre
By round two of drinks the bar is packed and Ayush Arora, who has trained at the European Bartender School in Australia, comes over to recommend cocktails. Mandarin Mojito is an easy-to-drink vodka based tipple with strong citrus undertones; and a barrel-blended Old Fashioned is mellower than our first, but still sweeter than we like.
Our main complaint is based on the types of spirits offered, with the leap from mid-level to high end often doubling the price of a cocktail. For example, vodka cocktails begin at Rs 364 for Smirnoff, rise to Rs 455 for SKYY and shoot up to Rs 1,091 for Belvedere.
Tonight, Skyy’s the limit.
Getting there: 10 World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, call 40647733. Open daily from 5 pm to 1.30 am. A night out is approximately Rs 3,500 for two.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
Accessibility: There are one or two steps to enter the bar.
This review was contributed by Aatish Nath, a freelance food and drink writer.
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