Goa - a haven synonymous with pristine beaches, hidden natural gems, and a ‘susegado’ way of living always had hospitality at the epicentre of a good time. The local tavern scene was a fixture at every village ‘tinto’- a place where folks would meet every evening to understand the latest happenings in and around the land. Fast forward to the 21st century and the drinks from straight pours have made way to artisanal cocktails brimming with concepts and travels far and wide. Read on for a spotlight on some heady curations for your next tipple when in Goa.
The Den Lounge
A speakeasy bar and cigar lounge in the heart of Margao city with ample parking might not be on everyone’s go-to list when compared with the shoreline or something rustic with that Goan vibe. For those willing to try it out, you will step into this intimate 50-seater lounge with dark interiors, where you should focus your attention on the well-stocked bar program. 619 as mentioned by Eric Caeiro - owner The Den, is the tipple of choice - Blanco tequila with ginger-honey-citrus milk-washed red wine, an ode to the wordplay of the world of a speakeasy in an urban setting - of kindred souls and seekers.
A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance and rightfully so. Apart from its hidden nesting grounds next to Udear Springs, the serenity of Flamingos entices you. The sound of crickets and bird mating calls, and trickling waters in the distance amplify the heightened sensory cocktail program. The Troublesome 22 showcased by Varuna Kayarmar - partner Flamingos, is a Bourbon whiskey dabbed with Angostura bitters, strawberry extract, egg white, double-shaken, strained cocktail. This is well blended for a sweet-sour palate with a hint of lime juice and basil leaves.
Moyo @ The Loft
Nestled atop the mountain in Anjuna, this haven emits a Daliesque vibe the minute one enters the premises. Situated at the boutique Anamiva Hotel, Moyo @ The Loft has patrons thronging and rightfully so. The bar program is the passion project of Kanishk Lamba - owner The Loft, inducing you to sink into a feeling of nirvanic bliss with heady music. It's the perfect spot to appreciate the Spicy Diablo, a mango-infused bird’s eye chilli sous vide in Jose Cuervo and smoked thyme honey citric acid flush, topped with a kaffir lime salt rim and garnish. One sip and you may dance with the Devil, post.
Black Sheep Bistro
Panjim is the heart and soul of the city vibe in Goa. Black Sheep Bistro is an import from Mexico with an inspired twist. Prahlad & Sabreen - the dynamic partner duo running this bistro has always been ‘glocal’ - global outlook with local inspiration - in their approach. The Tepache with Fiero is an ode to the same philosophy. Fermented pineapple skin creates a tepache added to Bacardi Fiero vermouth, allowing for a sensual burst of flavours created with every sip of this brilliant aperitif. Being surrounded by local art displays sets the mood and the bistro has ample parking with a buzzing vibe through lunch and dinner. A reservation is advisable.
A parallel universe of good vibes and laughter all around, nestled on the bustling roads of Vagator has Sheldon - partner at Hideaway and the man behind the scene, always concocting new ideas to bring back the old classics in new and playful formats. Snack time for Sinners is a conscious effort to pull back on obscure ingredient lists and put a renewed focus into making drinks for mature palates in a playful, cheeky, and accessible format. The inspiration comes from the legendary Jim Jam Biscuits, a memory of how they used to be stacked away in a single file in the tiffin box of every kid back in the day. This fun drink has fresh raspberry, biscoff, and Grey Goose, and is clarified using milk, for a creamy finish.
Enter into the world of Fitzgerald with a chance of finding a Gatsby in the crowd. Art deco, gold adorned simple design and with Dhruv Tuteja, the affable mixologist/partner with funky frames greeting you, this 30-seater establishment has a classy yet relaxed vibe where all are welcome. The Punhaluta Mexicano also known as ‘the Mexican fist fight’ is a riot of jalapeno-infused vodka, fresh Malta orange juice, Cointreau, locally sourced Goan honey, and cinnamon. If the decibels at the bar allow, you’ll get an anecdote from the man himself to the story behind the creation.
A library that decided it was fun to have a bar in the corner for good measure, equals an Instagram-able delight. With distressed walls, the art deco is tasteful and to the point, showcasing the days of old in a modern format. Ever smiling staff and wholesome drinks makes way for The Francis (The Bacon Ol’ Fashioned), a take on the old classic. Homemade bacon fatwash with bourbon with oleo saccharus, bitters, and candied bacon, this is one drink to sit back and enjoy with a book for company. They have quiz nights and bar crawls as a standard feature with all-day dining paired with a heady cocktail program.