The Best Bars in India’s Golden Triangle
Touring India’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur can lead to the best kind of sensory overload, the kind you need to talk about with friends old and new. Make your way to Bar Palladio, a lovely dream of a spot for cocktails, or to one of the area’s other nightclubs or bars. After all, you can’t just go see the Taj Mahal or Agra Fort and call it a day. That kind of day deserves one of India’s best cocktails.
The Lalit Hotel, Barakhamba Avenue, Fire Brigade Lane, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
24/7 is fine dining in the exclusive LaLiT Hotel near Connaught Place. It is also the only space in the city where you can order drinks at any time of day or night - hence the name 24/7. A buffet is offered during breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a-la-carte options served the remainder of the day. Cocktails served anytime, including during Sunday brunch.
15 Parliament Street
Aqua Lounge is a sophisticated/trendy hotspot located in the Park Hotel. When looking for an open-air, relaxing alternative to the crowded, bustling nightclubs, Aqua Lounge is the perfect solution, especially on a warm midsummer night. Sip on cocktails and gorge on Mediterranean/BBQ dishes on the elevated stools at the bar or in the cool white tents by the poolside. There is no entrance fee, but it’s best to make reservations because it fills up really quickly. You’ll find a really diverse crowd filled with locals, travelers, and expats. In a nutshell, Aqua is the sunbather’s heaven by daylight, and a classy diva’s playground by moonlight.
An impeccable selection of whiskey + beautiful views of historic monuments + divine cuisine = an evening of perfection. Dramz Whiskey Bar and Lounge beautifully balances all three of these elements by pairing reinvented cuisine with a collection of fine whiskeys, all complimented with views of the Qutub Minar. Dramz goes beyond the label of fine dining or a classic bar. It is a philosophy - a form of art - that makes the experience unforgettable. Visit on Friday, when cigars are 10% off. Reservations strongly recommended.
E-42 & 43, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, Block E, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
Exuding a warm, dimly-lit ambiance, Q’BA is popularly known as the “inner circle jewel” of Connaught Place, the central commercial hub of New Delhi. It’s a well-decorated, modern lounge/bar located in E block and offers a wide variety of cocktails, spirits, and food. The food ranges from Chinese to Thai to Mediterranean. The crowd consists of young hipsters, tourists, expats, and affluent locals. It’s the perfect place for business dinners or romantic dates. There is an upper deck terrace that provides a breathtaking view of the city or you can enjoy the inner seating with a ceiling that brilliantly mimics the panoramic view of the night stars.
Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110023, India
The Library is a space to sample fine whiskey from the Leela’s collection whilst enjoying a classic cigar. Located in the exclusive Leela Palace New Delhi, the bar is considered a “library for the connoisseur.” While it hosts an impressive top-shelf liquor selection, it is also a trove of first-edition books and resplendent Chesterfield chairs. This is a classically comfortable place to unwind after exploring the heritage sites of the city, like nearby India Gate, Qutub Minar complex, and Akshardham Temple. Remember, the legal drinking age in Delhi is still 25 years, so guests must provide identification before being allowed to enter. There are also designated smoking sections so the non-smokers can still enjoy the ambiance.
9A & 12, Hauz Khas Fort Rd, Hauz Khas Village, Deer Park, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi 110016, India
Hauz Khas Social can be considered a social space or a social experiment. Either way, this is perhaps one of the best drinking spots in Delhi. Social is a unique concept that unites a cafe, office space, and nightclub. The identity depends on the time of day, though the crowds pounce in the evening hours. Enjoy the lake views while sipping on “Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl” or “Trip on the Drip.”
1st Floor, Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Rd, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302005, India
Formerly the residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur, and now one of Jaipur’s most elegant luxury hotels, the 19th-century Rambagh Palace has had a front-row seat to history—and has hosted a long list of royals, dignitaries, and celebrities along the way. As an homage to those regal roots, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant spotlights the cuisine of four of India’s former princely states: Rajasthan, Awadh, Punjab, and Hyderabad. In what used to be the palace’s banquet hall—still dripping with gilded mirrors and Italian frescos—enjoy dishes like laal maas (a Rajasthani spicy lamb curry), chicken cooked with raw mango and saffron, skillet-grilled lobster, and apricot-stuffed cheese dumplings simmered in tomato gravy. Cap off the night with a drink in the nearby Polo Bar, which serves fine spirits and cocktails inspired by the royal equestrian sport.
12, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Rd, Tees January Road Area, Motilal Nehru Marg Area, New Delhi, Delhi 110011, India
There are some bars that get lost in the crush, while others make a lasting impression. Headed straight into the latter, Aura, a luxury bar in the 5-star Claridges Hotel, specializes in a wide array of vodkas, with more than 60 different rare vodkas from around the world to choose from. It’s one of the oldest bars in Delhi, dating back to the time when the nightlife was exclusive to upscale hotels. The place isn’t very large, so it makes for a cozy atmosphere. If you’re a vodka aficionado, you won’t want to miss this place. And if you’re not, you may just want to go to see the impressive range of vodkas. Full-course meals is not the house specialty, so you can expect to only find appetizers and small snacks to accompany the coveted spirits. Call ahead for various events such as bartending lessons and vodka tastings.