It’s 8pm and a little dim. I walk up a staircase with a wooden railing, crisp patterned wallpaper and faintly hear some music. A few more jaunty steps and I find myself in front of a teal green door, which seems to blend into the wall. I hesitantly look to my left and right, not sure whether to enter: trespassing is looked down upon, isn’t it? There isn’t a sign bearing the sign “welcome” or anyone to usher me in, but I trust my gut this once and push the door. The sound of ice clinks in a highball glass and I sigh—I’m not trespassing, after all.
Ek Bar, the Indian cocktail bar, moonlights as a speakeasy in Delhi’s more affluent Defence Colony neighbourhood. When the bar started out in 2015 Three years and a facelift after, it has moved away from the pops of colour to a more sophisticated palette, but they keep their flair with the cocktail shaker as alive as ever. The bar is known to serve up some of the better cocktails in the capital, and it was only fitting when they invited a similar speakeasy, Skullduggery, from Malaysia to make a guest appearance behind the bar.
I had showed up on the second night of Skullduggery’s pop up at Ek Bar with little in mind about what to expect. What was on offer? 5 unique cocktails, all representing distinctive Southeast Asian flavours in a glass.
The first cocktail on the menu was the Sake It To Me (say it fast enough, and you’ll get the drift). This is a vodka-based cocktail with elements such as the lemongrass, sake, jasmine and lime along with some pink salt & peppers. The drink was a little sweet yet sour, tasting like an adult’s lemonade with added flavours such as the lemongrass and of course, alcohol. If the lime at first tasted a little different to us, it’s because it was the calamansi, a tiny lemon from Malaysia with a sweeter taste.
Next up was a second favourite, the Bunga Raya Club. This one was those who think gin, along with some rice wine, lemon, hibiscus flavouring, can you believe it, chick pea. It was tangy and fizzy--like a mini explosion in the mouth.
I then tried the Tamarinda, a tequila, tamarind, vanilla, and grapefruit concoction which is just as wild as it sounds. If you’re fond of the infamous LIIT, the Tamarinda would be the drink for you when you visit their bar in Kuala Lampur. The Keluarga, is your classic cocktail that needs a paper umbrella in it served on a beach. It has all the elements, the white rum, coconut and lime, and if you usually pick the pina colada, you may find this to your liking.
The cocktails were a blast, and not just because of the names they were given. I ended on the Mandarin white chocolate, and although I'm usually opposed to introducing the two favourites, chocolate and alcohol, this time I’ll make an exception.