Remo, Mumbai's latest speakeasy bar

Remo’s, Mumbai’s latest speakeasy bar, is a tipsy secret waiting to be discovered

Imagine it’s 1950s Bombay. Mill worker Remo slogs for hours on end working himself to the bone. Often, he travels back home to Goa to take some time off his busy life. But Remo has been harbouring a secret. He is a mill worker by day, and a secret bar owner by night, an establishment that is located close to his workplace.

It’s this quirky story that becomes the origin story of Remo’s in Todi Mills. Chinese whispers have made Mumbai’s latest speakeasy a topic of much curiosity. One rainy evening, after a long day at work, while walking through Todi Mills, a bright blinking light in an otherwise dark and deserted lane lures visitors. Following the light takes patrons up a flight of stairs to a locked door, with a peephole. We remember a password sent via Whatsapp, hear faint notes of a lounge version of ‘Clocks’ by Coldplay and giggle like millenials all over again. As of now, entry to Remo’s is invitation-only. Interested patrons can get on a list if an existing member recommends them.

Remo’s is inspired by the Prohibition Era of 1920s America, when it was illegal to transport, produce, buy, sell or import alcohol, which led to a host of underground bars in the country. It’s interesting how this period continues to inspire restaurateurs in Mumbai even today. Many unsuccessful attempts to make it work in the past have sadly resulted in Bollywood nights and loud parties in a bid to stay afloat. So why attempt to try a genre that hasn’t worked in this city? Remo’s owner, Akriti Agarwal (no mention of the company she’s the CEO of, or the speakeasy’s location will be revealed) explains, “Across the world, speakeasys have always been trending, they are cocktail bars in the true sense. We have stayed true to the concept and haven’t done anything to defeat the purpose of the space being a secret bar, from being in a deserted lane to blacking out the windows. There’s also a surviving cloth mill storage depot here to stay true to Remo’s background story.” In true Prohibition fashion, the Art Deco bar is lined with medicine bottles filled with alcohol and pre batch cocktails.

Eat and drink

Like Remo’s itself, the establishment’s menu too is a curious one. On offer are a select range of craft beers, just six original cocktails, and six cocktails brought to the city from some of Asia’s Top 50 bars including COA from Hong Kong, Operation Dagger from Singapore and Old Man from Hong Kong. These are served just like they are at their parent bars. The international collaborations — which are purely on a friendly basis, with no money involved — are a result of Agarwal’s trips to the bars in Asia. She proudly displays a thick stack of menus signed by the owners and mixologists of the renowned establishments, a gift to her.

A highlight of the tipple offering is The Snows of Kilimanjaro #1936 by Agung Prabowo of Old Man. Made with marshmallow gin, lacto fermented raspberry, lemon and egg white, topped with parmesan cheese to cut the sweetness. And since it’s a secret bar, which cannot be uncovered even by the wafting aromas of cooked food, they only offer three small plates — which are perfect to munch on and schmooze while enjoying the great cocktails. In fact, if you the speakeasy during their non-working hours, the only reply you’ll get is that Remo is at the storage depot and is currently unavailable.

What we love the most about their small but effective menu is the optimum use of local ingredients, with no sugar, artificial or organic, at all. There is complete reliance on on the natural sweetness of the best produce. A great example is Cuncolim, their house made coconut wine which takes three days to make, is served in a coconut shell and smoked with coco shell bits, making it a fully sustainable cocktail that uses the whole nut. Though Agarwal remains tight-lipped about future plans, she does let slip that intimate live music with a saxophonist or a guitarist is on the horizon.

Remo's, Todi Mills (follow a blinking neon light); 6.30 p.m. onwards; 7304553127

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 12:01:14 AM |

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