Drinking Out – Ellipsis, Mumbai


B-1 Amarchand Mansion, 16, Madame Cama Rd, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Ph: 022 6621 3333
Hours: 12:00–3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 12:00 am

Madame Cama, to give her her full name, Madame Bhikaji Rustom Cama, was a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement, and probably best remembered now, by Delhi’s Bhikaji Cama place, and Mumbai’s Madame Cama Road. There may be other such locational commemorations around India, and we welcome you to let us know the same. Our thoughts are however today with another remembrance linked to her, with one of the finest bars in India, housed on Madame Cama Road. For those into James Bond trivia, you may remember in Casino Royale (with Daniel Craig) the code used by a bomber. Yes, Ellipsis it was.

The craft of the cocktail is slowly taking form in India, with an increased number of bars around the country, focusing on high quality cocktails, made with precision and passion. Ellipsis is one of these places. I’m with a group of friends, whom I have dragged from Lower Parel / Upper Worli to Colaba. Apparently the location where Ellipsis is situated, is considered as a restaurant graveyard, with previous inhabitants, having to shut shop fairly soon, and go to that great restaurant graveyard in the sky. The last such unhappy inhabitant being Villa 39. The promoters of Ellipsis have however put great care and expense into setting this up, with best of breed inputs on the interiors, the food and the beverage menu, with the bar program put into place by the famed New York duo of David Kaplan and Alex Day of Proprietors LLC.

Downstairs is a bar and lounge, and upstairs, a fine dine restaurant serving modern American cuisine. The bar occupies part of one wall, with 5 to 6 bar stools lined up in front, and the lounge area facing the bar. Unfortunately, the lounge area has some of the most uncomfortable seating known to man, so if you are visiting Ellipsis, I recommend you stay at the bar. I think one of the hallmarks of a good bar is design, and apart from Ellipsis’s seating, what also needs an urgent change is the way the bar area is designed. As someone going out for a fun time, I’d love to visit a bar, wherein you have a broad idea of what’s going on around you, indulge in some people watching, and catch a stray conversation drifting through the air. Unfortunately Ellipsis’s design doesn’t facilitate that. By and large, patrons are in their separate cocoons.

We place our first drinks order, A Hemingway Daiquiri (Rum, Grapefruit juice, Maraschino), a French 75 (Gin, Champagne, Lemon), a Presbyterian (Whisky, Ginger, Lemon, Seltzer), a Penicillin Revised (Tequila, Ginger, Lemon, Honey), a Bloody Mary and a Night Call (Spiced Bourbon, Dark Rum, Vanilla Bitters). An Ellipsis signature I wanted to try, Churchgate, with jaggery syrup, was unfortunately not available that night. Cocktails aren’t cheap at Ellipsis, with prices broadly varying in the range of INR 500 to 900.

As the names may suggest, Ellipsis is a Classic Cocktail place, with a strong focus on vintage / prohibition era cocktails. Prohibition in America, by and large, was death for the cocktail, and Europe was far ahead, with several talented American bartenders also migrating to Europe during this time. The French 75 was in fact created at Harry’s Bar in Paris in 1915, and named after a French field gun from the First World War, as it packs quite a punch.

We backed up our cocktails order with a selection of starters from their menu, the strangely named flatbreads – tomato, swiss and bbq chicken (pizza in all but name), the Veg Dim sum, ravioli, schezwan snapper and portions and portions of their breadbasket.

For those pedantically inclined, Ellipsis is a series of dots that usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. Fortunately for us, the Cocktails come with nothing missing, intentionally or otherwise, and are uniformly brilliant. What you want from a cocktail most of all is a harmonious balance of ingredients, with none dominating, and all flavours promised, shining through. You also want integrity, so if you’ve been promised a certain quality and quantity of alcohol, you’re not short changed. A lasting relationship, not a one night stand. The cocktails at Ellipsis delivered on all counts, and Tobias Carvalho, who was behind the bar that evening, was in his element.

In the French 75, the tartness of the Champagne and lemon, combined brilliantly with the Gin to deliver a cocktail you could drink forever. The Bloody Mary had a twist, which the bartender didn’t tell us, and left my friend ordering 2 more in rapid succession. The Presbyterian, a cocktail that dates back to the last days of the 19th century, was another winner, and if you’re a lover of Scotch, looking for a different experience, this one’s for you.

My own evening began with a couple of Hemingway Daiquiri’s (also known as the Papa Doble), a drink which was reputedly created by Constantino Ribalaigua, who tended bar at El Floridita in Havana for Ernest Hemingway. The Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit are what distinguish this drink from your normal everyday Daiquiri, and the next best thing to being in Havana is mixing up a pitcher of these on a Sunday afternoon, and drink them, as you lounge in your balcony.

I followed up the Daiquiri with a Penicillin Revised and then a classic Penicillin (scotch, single malt, ginger, lemon, honey), which as the name suggest would do a tonne of good more than quinine in fighting malaria. Penicillin was created by Sam Ross, the talented Australian bartender, while at New York’s Milk and Honey, and is again a must for Scotch / Malt lovers. All in all, a superlative cocktail experience at Ellipsis. Now if they could just do something about that seating….