If you feel like escaping the frenetic pace of Mumbai but can't actually leave the city, Bonobo bar in Bandra is a suitable place to find some salvation. Enjoy relaxing with a cocktail, without any pretenses, and just be yourself.
Bonobo gets its curious name from an endangered ape that lives in the heart of the Congo. It hints of something unusual and intriguing, and pleasingly the bar lives up to expectations. After climbing the stairs and entering the exotic environment of Bonobo, it's quite easy to imagine yourself away from Mumbai, in a far off tropical location.
Bonobo is divided into two areas -- an open-air outdoor dining area, and an enclosed air-conditioned lounge area where a DJ spins tunes. The decor, in tones of beige, brown and green, successfully creates a jungle ambiance without being tacky. Tables are topped with thatched umbrellas, the roof lined with billowing fabric and wrought iron candelabra-style lights, and the walls stylishly painted with foliage, birds and dragonflies.
What really struck me was that although Bonobo has an unusual setting, there's something strangely comfortable about the place. I think it's got to do with the fact that despite being one of the hippest places in town, there was a refreshing absence of any self-important attitude.
There were no surly security staff (one actually smiled and made conversation with me) or barmen who took themselves too seriously. Everyone seemed genuinely friendly and happy -- the arty crowd included. It must be the free and sociable bonobo spirit! No wonder it's one of Mumbai's longest standing bars, open since December 2008.
If you love cocktails, you'll love Bonobo. You can tell that Bonobo is serious about its cocktails from the long tray, loaded with luscious cocktail ingredients, that lines the bar.
The cocktail menu is split into Legend Cocktails and Classic Cocktails. Highlights include the Espresso Martini, made with freshly brewed espresso coffee, vanilla vodka, and Irish cream. I’d always thought that cold coffee would make a good alcoholic drink. Indeed, it was the perfect pick-me-up. The unusual Passion fruit and Curry Leaf cocktail is was also surprisingly delicious, as too was the Watermelon and Lychee Martini.
For those who find that one cocktail just isn't enough, the popular classics (including Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, and Sangria) are available in huge pitchers costing 1,480 rupees each.
If you want to buy cocktails by the glass, expect to pay around 450 rupees for one.
Bonobo also serves craft beers on tap (246 rupees per glass), along with other imported and local beers, wine, and spirits.
The menu at Bonobo consists primarily of appetizers, gourmet pizza, burgers, tacos, and sandwiches. The most substantial offerings are in the Asian section, with rice or noodle bowls such as Nasi Goreng. Hence, it's best to dine there only if you're planning on snacking, rather than expecting a three course meal.
Various events are held during the week. Monday night is cheap drinks night, starting from 99 rupees. Thursday night is Old School Bar Night and a DJ spins funky retro music. There's usually a live music on Wednesdays, live electronic music act on Fridays, and a DJ on Saturdays.
In addition, there are daily happy hours from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. -- buy one and get one free.
Bonobo is located just behind KFC, on Linking Road, Bandra. It's open from 6 p.m. until 1.30 a.m. Credit cards accepted. Phone: (22) 26055050, 26055353.