A little bit of chic French luxury has made its way to Mumbai’s plush Marine Drive area – and you’ll find it at The Oberoi hotel. The refurbished EAU Bar is an oasis of relaxed elegance and sophisticated ambience ready to rescue shoppers from the crowds. A stylish bar with an interesting cocktail menu to match, the bar makes for the perfect Sunday evening experience overlooking the spectacular “Queens Necklace”
By: Niyoshi Shah
Posted on: June 3, 2020
LF Says: ★★★★
Eau – the French word for water - sublimely illustrates how soothing and calming the sheer view of the majestic Arabian Sea can be on a bustling weekday in a fast-paced city like Mumbai. Holding true to its name – the Eau Bar is relaxed and refreshing.
I visited the newly renovated bar on a Sunday evening, before the COVID-19 madness descended on us all, to spend a quiet cocktail hour with a friend. First impressions? Sleek and modern, the focal point of the bar is its centrepiece. Inspired by the ‘Tree of Life', the eclectic masterpiece is constructed with 800 meters of brass foliage which gives the entire space character and class. A sunken lounge and a performance space next to it provides an opulent quality that is both comforting as well as grand. The bar boasts of a spectacular setting with magnificent views of the sea through imposing floor-to-ceiling windows. A velvet red fluting of fabric ensures a warm backdrop to the otherwise sharp, state-of-the-art interiors.
With a modern vision as the inspiration for its transformation, the design highlights are flanked by two attractions. The first, an outdoor deck, boasting a proximity to the ocean unlike any other in the city, and the second, a Private Lounge that is the perfect antechamber for relaxed banter and intimate gatherings. A dramatic ‘bull installation’ specially sculpted by celebrated artist Valay Shende celebrates the spirit of India’s financial capital. The Terrace Lounge is itself divided into two levels to magnify the idea of a landscaped setting. The décor is easy yet stylish with wooden and glass interiors and comfortable lounge chairs at the deck. I found a peaceful spot at the outdoor patio overlooking the sea and regaling in its salty scent and easy breeze.
Eau Bar’s menu comprises of bold and unique infusions like tamarind and curry leaves - an ode to the cosmopolitan spirit of Mumbai. They have created a ‘Cocktails through the Eras’ selection that traces the history of cocktails from the 1800s to the present times. Studying the menu, I was torn between the ‘Malabar Mule’ and ‘Marine Drive’, ingeniously named after popular streets in Mumbai, but I settled for the latter. Heads turned as this beautiful pink-orange creation arrived at my table. Dedicated to the flavourful spirit of the sea-side Marine Drive area, it is their signature drink crafted from turmeric gin, saline solutions and orange bitters. It was tangy yet smooth and refreshingly strong.
The bar has sold about 500 Marine Drives in the past 3 months and a record 6000 cocktails in total since the reopening – a testament to their cocktail expertise. I also ordered the hugely popular “Grape of Wrath” – a unique mix of chardonnay and Jameson, apricot liqueur and citrus shrub. The lethal concoction of 4 different spirits proved to be a bit intense yet flavourful and tangy.
The Fire and Ice cocktail is another interesting variation. An epitome of handcrafted tinctures, the drink is made from vanilla vodka, fresh apples and jalapeno chillies. The bona fide “Golden Era” which represents the 1850s – 1900 era, includes classics like the Manhattan, a dry Martini, the bloody Mary, Whisky Sour to name a few. The 90s revival variety commemorates prevailing pop culture with the Cosmopolitan, Espresso Martini, etc. The menu in itself is so interesting and enjoyable to read to a true cocktail connoisseur that I spent a good 25 minutes deciding what drink to opt for.
On the night of our visit, my friend and I were one of just three tables at the deck. Being able to hear each other over the live performer’s voice without drawing reproachful glances from other guests was a tricky acoustic balance. But the variety and interesting concoctions more than made up for this.
Soak it up
The bar’s food menu is predictably seafood heavy with a variety of prawns, caviar and crab specialties. The popular plates are Pan-seared scallops, Chargrilled crayfish and the Cumin & garlic marinated lamb chops. Executive Chef Satbir Bakshi showcases indigenous and seasonal produce presented in stylish small portions which are perfectly appetising yet not overwhelming, so you can truly enjoy the flavours of your cocktails. The recipes feature simple, farm fresh ingredients and intricate flavours from around the globe with a special focus on Mumbai's local favourites.
I regaled my vegetarian palate with the delicious pav bhaji sliders (a popular local dish), home-made root chips with wasabi salt and Indian salsa, and the black rice maki which was mouth-wateringly delicious. The root chips were freshly baked and the salsa had just the right amount of spice. An ever-attentive server made the entire experience enjoyable.
The unwavering Oberoi hospitality was evident at every interaction I had with the dutifully cheerful staff. Another highlight to my experience was the captivating performance by Orion, the live band that performed that night. Hailing from different musical backgrounds, the band’s playlist offered a wide range of genres ranging from early 60s to the latest chart toppers. They entertained us with hits by Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Bob Dylan – a true novelty in Mumbai. It took me no time to submit to the melody and magic of the evening.
Lazy and relaxed days are just what summer ordered, and having a well-made cocktail or a spritz in hand only ever improves your mood. The EAU Bar is chic, stylish and cosy – and it offers a truly tasteful respite from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. And I do hope that COVID-19 soon falls flat to be able to re-open this gem in Mumbai.
LF Says: ★★★★
Coordinates: The Oberoi, Mumbai and Trident Nariman Point, Mumbai
Reservations number: +91 22 6632 6220