Last year, a young New Delhi bar grabbed headlines when it ranked number 40 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020. It was just the second Indian bar ever to feature on the coveted list. This year, Sidecar has outdone itself and grabbed an unprecedented ranking of number 16 in the continent—the announcement came in a virtual press conference held on May 6. In the process it has also become the joint winner of the Nikka Highest Climber Award—in a devastating year for F&B no less. Unsurprisingly, Sidecar has also been named the Best Bar in India. By Sumeet Keswani
Spread on two floors above a usually busy sidewalk in M-Block Market, GK 2, Sidecar is the brainchild of master mixologist Yangdup Lama and consultant and beverage marketing expert Minakshi Singh. Even behind shuttered doors, it was busy reinventing itself. “When we went under lockdown in March 2020, we utilised the time to reflect on our new menu, tastings, and trails. We spent a lot of time training and upskilling our staff via online classes with internal as well as external trainers,” Singh reveals. “We also conducted a lot of guest programmes via online workshops as well as our new and exciting cocktail premixes. When the bars finally opened, we were fully geared up with a new cocktail menu, and many exciting offerings.”
The bartender’s bar, as the owners like to call it, offers an exciting menu of artisanal cocktails that employ house-made bitters, syrups, and unique infusions. True to its name, the bar whips up six versions of the eponymous cocktail, along with some daring new concoctions and bold twists to classics. Singh is stoked about their meteoric rise in the list and says the recognition comes as a massive boost to them and to the Indian bar industry overall. The country is currently coping with a deadly second wave of COVID-19 that has again pushed people indoors, but Lama is optimistic about the future. “While we are currently at home, we have been working extensively on new ideas to be able to create beautiful experiences for our guests. The idea is to amplify all that India has to offer, right from a wide range of spices to an amazing array of flavours; we are in a great position to showcase that now to the world,” he says.
Sidecar’s run on the global stage has been astounding, but to connoisseurs in the know, it comes as no surprise. We at Travel + Leisure India & South Asia had the pleasure of sampling the bar’s excellence on the eve of its launch in 2019 when Managing Editor Sumeet Keswani sat down with the founders. Here’s a throwback to his review of Sidecar:
As you ascend the flight of stairs to Sidecar in GK2’s M Block Market, it quickly becomes clear that this is no run-of-the-mill bar leaning on the crutch of Happy Hours to draw crowds on a weekend afternoon. While it does suffer the affliction of industrial walls, with the peeling-plaster look that makes so many bars in the capital indistinguishable from one another, the rest of it sings of good taste. Suede lounge chairs with soft throw pillows flanked by quirky portraits on the walls, with handmade lamps looming over low, round tables, give the first floor of the bar a very European vibe. Extensive wood panelling and leather chairs beautifully supplement a bookstore corner, provided by Hachette India. The bookstore has 600 books, constantly updated, I’m told, and the authors range from Neil Gaiman to Michel Bussi to Enid Byton to Twinkle Khanna. But the bestselling ones pertain to fitness and food, I’m told. In true European literary spirit, there’s even a free library corner, where you can trade your used book for another.
To read the full review, click here.
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