The Best Pregaming Bars in Delhi
11 July 2014
Everyone wants to make the most of their weekend, and let’s be honest, “making the most” means getting nice and drunk without burning a hole in your pocket. Prices of alcohol are soaring and bars are now capitalising on ridiculous two for one deals on mediocre alcohol – these are becoming increasingly popular and a staple part of the scene here in Delhi. People are opting for quantity and sacrificing quality.
There are other options of course, which is why pre gaming is becoming such a big deal. It’s time to abandon the inflated costs and faux cool of Hauz Khas Village - so we bring to you a list of the most talked about, (in)famously cheap (and slightly dodgy) bars in the NCR region.
Fair warning – while the alcohol is safe at all the locations mentioned below, it’s better not to question bafflingly sticky floors, dubious ambience and music playlists (best left unmentioned). Here’s our completely arbitrary list of the best pre gaming joints that Delhi has to offer:
My Bar has become an institution in the last few years, acquiring the legendary status as the go-to place when you don’t have a lot of money and are willing to go though anything to get a cheap drink, including listening to playlists full of bollywood remixes and the David Guetta/Swedish House Mafia variety of fist pumping ‘EDM’. When your pockets are empty and you feel like you can eat a horse, My Bar is the first name that pops to mind, most likely because it’s everywhere.
The atmosphere at the Paharganj or Connaught Place My Bars are probably the least offensive. My Bar at Connaught Place is a three storied building that’s got the old school nostalgia of a sit down pub where you can eat, drink and be far too noisy without standing out from the crowd. It’s got a much more people friendly vibe than Hauz Khas Village, which succumbed to the whirlwind of gentrification, or the GK branch, where your drink may at times taste suspiciously like chilly paneer. Really.
I might be a bit biased when talking about 4S at the Defence Colony market – it’s been a personal favourite with its dimly lit interiors and borderline offensive service holding a special place in my heart. Any Delhiite is aware of the value of 4S.
A highlight of the drinking hole, truth be told, isn’t really the cheap booze but rather the amicable and chatty handlebar moustached guard who stands at the front door and brandishes a miniscule gun shaped lighter when you’re looking to spark a smoke. After walking through its heavy, imposing wooden doors you’ll find yourself in a space with about 5 odd tables; though there is an upstairs, it’s always, inexplicably shut. Don’t go expecting music, 4S boasts a number of regulars who come there with the sole purpose of watching whatever match is on at the time. The booze is very reasonably priced but the food is not (I find glaring passive aggressively at the waiters till they get you more free peanuts serves the purpose).
Strictly speaking, the various Machans scattered around Gurgaon aren’t technically bars. This concept (unique to Gurgaon) lets thirsty patrons grab themselves a drink at MRP from attached thekas and take their bounty inside where they can eat and drink in comfort. Fair warning, this is a solid 9 on the shady scale, so be prepared.
The Machan at Phase 3, near the swanky Cyber Hub is probably my personal favourite. It’s pretty enormous and has inside seating, a cute little rooftop shack and a ‘lawn’ bedecked with plastic garden chairs and fake hydrangeas. The space is adjacent to the main road and the yellow metro line shoots by at odd intervals directly overhead. The noise of honking cars is drowned out by a purely bollywood playlist played, naturally, at deafening volumes. Machan exists, strictly and solely for the purpose of obtaining and consuming the cheapest booze in town and food which is edible enough after a few pints.
Thugs has been around for a while, but I only discovered it recently on a bright Sunday afternoon in the streets of Daryaganj with my arms full of dusty tomes and brilliantly bad volumes of 80s science fiction.
Thugs is located in Hotel Broadway – a recently revamped glitzy structure that attempts to hearken back to the bygone days of tiffany lamps and Broadway glamour.
The pub itself brings to mind a kind of dilapidated nostalgia with menacing two dimensional figures of Bollywood evildoers like Ajit, KN Singh and Amjad Khan glaring down as you walk in. More than the cheap booze (of which there is no scarcity) and well portioned food, visit ‘Thugs’ for its character.
Boheme at Karol Bagh is a relatively new joint that doles out pints for just 80 bucks a piece. Right next to the metro station, Boheme’s interiors are yet to be tarnished, giving it a surprisingly pleasant atmosphere. Good food and service adds to that – there really isn’t much to complain about. I give it 3 more months to stay ‘nice’ before the inevitable downward spiral to becoming a disreputable Delhi staple.
Words: Diya Gupta