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Chennai’s 23 new bars to add oomph to nightlife

(From left) Harinath Petha of Bar Masons, Sneha Chordia Hariesh of Shout and Ashwath Naroth of Asvah

(From left) Harinath Petha of Bar Masons, Sneha Chordia Hariesh of Shout and Ashwath Naroth of Asvah  

Think Chennai’s nightlife needs help? Sundaylite give you 23 reasons to keep your spirits high

A month into the new year, and we’ve found a good reason to raise a toast. Twenty three good reasons, to be exact.

That is how many new bars are coming up in the city in 2019. What’s more? Over 15 of them are expected to open in the next couple of months in Alwarpet, ECR, OMR and even Porur (where we’ve Tasmac shops aplenty but no upscale bar).

Be your own bartender
  • If you’ve loved the Joker — a tequila cocktail created to familiarise Chennaiites with egg whites in their drinks, and which makes the drinking experience a game with a Joker card and a helium balloon — you will love Petha’s work. The self-made bar expert, who names mixologists Arijit Bose and David Cordoba among his mentors, is now planning to extend his reach with his month-old venture, Bar Masons. “Besides training bartenders, we will also conduct workshops for the public,” says Petha, who has over 14 years experience in the field. Sign up for three-day bartending sessions for ₹10,000. Write to:

As it turns out, new licensing is one of the reasons why Chennai is stocking up on the booze. “Unlike earlier, the FL2 license, which is a club licence, allows bars to open without being attached to a hotel with rooms,” explains Harinath Petha, director, Bar Masons — a newly-launched company that crafts cocktail menus and customises beverage delivery — of the change in law.

With stand-alone outlets now a reality, he says owners are also planning their new launches geographically, spreading them across the city.

Creative first

Meanwhile, the city’s well-heeled, well-travelled clientèle is bumping up work for interior designers like Sidharth Ninan. One of the most wanted names — he is behind 11 of the new projects — the 33-year-old says, “People are more open to experimenting now, so interiors are getting swankier. Every bar I work on has a concept.”

Sidharth Ninan

Sidharth Ninan  

The formal, almost colonial aesthetic of bars like Chipstead in Taj Coromandel, is making way for cooler, more relaxed spaces. “Most people drinking today are youngsters, and they want places with good music, food and a simple yet memorable ambience.

While my last project, Off The Record (2018), has a vintage meets industrial theme, Cycle Gap 2.0 (launching in Adyar) will have an ‘exploded bike’ installation, and Bass & Soda on OMR will have a tree at the centre,” says Ninan, whose interiors at Radio Room — the bar counter with vintage radios and speakers is still a favourite — has won several awards.

The influx of popular brands also speaks to the viability of a market, and Ninan concludes that the entry of big Bengaluru names like Watson’s and the upcoming Big Pitcher on OMR is telling.

Look ‘em up

Lines, Sneha Chordia Hariesh

Sneha, 35, has no interest in cookie-cutter designs. “At Shout (the bar set to launch in Porur), my client’s only brief was to make it look different,” she says. “As we are catering to an IT crowd, I went with a very chilled out Irish concept — with rustic colours of greys and yellows, and injections of green from indoor plants.” A gabion wall (wire mesh pillar filled with rocks), high ceilings, open-to-sky roof and patterned floors add interest to the 6,000 sq ft space.

Asvah, Ashwath Naroth

With a background in fashion — he worked in Italy with Yves Saint Laurent’s classic menswear — the 32-year-old believes the Chennai customer still appreciates the classic. His newly-opened bar-cum-café, Asvah, not only makes use of the Neelankarai coastline (with two terraces overlooking the beach), but also has a relaxed Europe-meets-the-tropics vibe. “Each room has marble sourced from different parts of Italy, the bar counter is a single piece of green onyx from Pakistan, the furniture sourced from Sri Lanka invites you to lounge, the cane lamps, made by a local basket weaver, are statement makers, and the colour palette, of salmon terracotta and olive green, ties it all together,” says the owner-designer.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:40:34 AM |

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