Please Don’t Tell – Mumbai
Nothing excited us more than hearing about Please Don’t Tell opening up in Mumbai. One of the best bars on the planet coming to Mumbai, this would be good news indeed. Little did we know that was not the case, Please Don’t Tell – Mumbai has officially got nothing to do with Please Don’t Tell – New York, apart from the name, concept and even the telephone booth entrance.
Burrowed behind graffiti laden walls and the red telephone booth entrance, the space holds true to the mill vibe with its industrial theme, exposed concrete walls and wiring. Distressed metal chairs and tables which can be shuffled around depending on the footfalls, add to the ‘here now, gone then’ vibe of a speakeasy. The touch of color comes from the massive full wall mural in red and grey. The long drawn bar with the bar back under metal shutters adds to the intrigue of a grungy clandestine bar.
Cocktails were disappointing right away. There were 6 cocktails ordered on the table, only 2 were barely alright. Disguised Veteran (Rs 600) which is PDT’s version of an Old Fashioned was a disaster – extremely diluted with absolutely no flavor of Medley Bourbon (perhaps the cheapest Bourbon available in the country), let alone bitters and orange. The trouble was easy to pin point, there was too much crushed ice filling the glass. Now if PDT Mumbai had actually taken care to learn from their New York inspiration, they would know an Old Fashioned should not be made with crushed ice. Even the orange peel for garnish was a disaster.
The fact that a speakeasy bar doesn’t know how to use Pimm’s is really surprising
We ordered 4 signature cocktails. All of them were way off the mark. Tea Totaller (Rs 700), a hibiscus tea based Long Island Iced Tea, was very one dimensional despite the fact that it had 4 spirits. Secrets of the Sea (Rs 700), a white rum and lemon liqueur based drink, was borderline mediocre. Pimm’s on a Whim (Rs 700), a Pimm’s No 1 based fruit punch styled drink where there was barely any Pimm’s. On investigating, we were told that the standard pour of alcohol in a drink is 45 ml. Pimm’s has half the alcohol content as other spirits do and a Pimm’s lemonade would ideally have a half and half ratio. The fact that a speakeasy bar doesn’t know how to use Pimm’s is really surprising.
Things got stranger, we spotted Shandy as their signature cocktail, we didn’t order it but we did ask as to what was it made of. Turns out a mix of Hoegaarden and Sprite deserved a price tag of Rs 700, more expensive than ordering Hoegaarden and Sprite separately.
Their molecular drink Aztec Fire (Rs 800) made from tequila, jalapeno and black salt foam was a breath of fresh air after. While the flavors were all in place it did remind us of an under-chilled Margarita. We couldn’t understand the molecular element either. Puzzle Guzzle (Rs 700) is perhaps the only drink we enjoyed and would recommend. It is a vodka based drink made using fresh ginger and ginger bread syrup.
To summarize the drinks, they either had too much ice or were too warm
To summarize the drinks, they either had too much ice or were too warm. The silver lining is the very polite staff, receptive to critiques. On being told that the Old Fashioned was diluted they promptly made us another one which was a dramatic improvement to the first.
The bar list has a wide variety of imported brands. A standard 30 ml pour of Absolut vodka or Gordon’s gin costs Rs 300. The only Indian brand we found was the eternal crowd pleaser Old Monk costing Rs 200 for a pour. Whiskey lovers can find J&B Rare and Jameson Irish whiskey being served at Rs 350; expand in to the world of single malts, a 12 year old Glenlivet will cost you Rs 600. Similarly a Kingfisher pint is for Rs 250 while a Hoegarden will put a dent of Rs 550. PDT’s wine list was not something that excited us much; of 30 odd wines which were listed only 8 wines are served by the glass. The only Indian wines listed are Sula and Chandon, also the ones served by the glass.
Apart from the fact that they have unsuccessfully tried to rip off a legend, there is a prevailing sense of arrogance in their communication. While the bartenders are polite and forthcoming, their uniforms say otherwise, ‘part of my job is to act like I’m interested in what you’re talking about’; not a welcoming thought specially at a speakeasy, where the gentleman behind the bar should be able to make you a drink off the menu after striking a conversation. Similar quips extend on to the coasters and napkins and the most unfathomable of it all was the declaration that the service charge of 10% was not a gratuity and guests are encouraged to tip the service staff.
Since they do call themselves a fine establishment, we wish they didn’t blatantly rip off so much and at-least had a different name. While the decor, vibe and music are excellent, cocktails, the main focus of a speakeasy are very disappointing to say the least.
This review has been conducted anonymously.
Prices mentioned are exclusive of taxes.