No more Night Watchman

Come July 1, 2009 & the Night Watchman will not be awake anymore. I am referring to one of the first English pubs of Bangalore city that was launched at the peak of the pub -boom in the early nineties. This one is part of the bunch of first few pubs in Bangalore that gave the town its alter ego - "The pub city". I was prowling in the Church Street neighbourhood for a mug of beer before lunch and decided to walk into "The Night Watchman" - standing opposite the famous Empire restaurant.

The pub wore an empty and dull look. No air conditioner, no customer. What do you expect at 12 noon on a Monday? Anyways, I took position over a bar stool and asked for a mug of tap. Devendran the bartender started chatting up when I referred to him about Take 5 & me. Eventually he mentioned that June 30 would be the last day that the pub would be awake. The lease is getting over.

Over the years, Devendran says, NW acquired a fiercely loyal clientele by virtue of its unmatched personalised, courteous service under the guidance of Suresh Mehrotri, the proprietor. Suresh was incidentally around and I introduced myself to him. He was a very disappointed man. He said, its not the lease. He has been asked to close down the place. The building in which NW is housed needs major repair and renovation as it is more than 20 years old and the landlord has got most occupants vacated. The renovation will take at least 1 year and he cant carry his staff around till that time.

After 16 years of feeding beer and other alcohols to Bangloreans, most of its staff, who have been working for equal number of years with NW are now faced with sudden loss of livelihood.Suresh says a couple of them were literally in tears last evening as the date of closure came nearer. In 2001 NW moved away from the cricket based interiors to a cool & dreamy look, with subdued lighting and the black-and-steel-grey decor. Over two mugs that I had at NW, I noticed a few things I liked about the place.

1. Brass Beer Mugs : Amongst hoards of beer mugs are a few brass mugs. Very antique looking and apparently 15 year old. Quite Fancy. I ll upload the picture soon.

2. Old Fashioned : Almost the oldest classic cocktail known to mankind - a whiskey base drink this one finds a mention in their menu. I have never seen "Old Fashioned" on a cocktail menu in India. This was quite fascinating to me. Sadly as in most parts of the world, the recipe explained by Devendran to me, seemed bastardised. An OF is best had by muddling a cube of sugar with bitters and then adding ice and topping with Rye whiskey. NW uses Indian whiskey (cant complain) & sweet vermouth????? instead of bitters. Isn`t that almost a sweet "Manhattan". Anyways.

3.Scandal : Their best cocktail. Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, Vodka & Gin - 30 ml each mixed with equal parts of orange & pine apple juice & topped with 10 ml of red wine. An improvisation of LIIT, I would say.

Finishing my dose of beer, I went up to Suresh, thanked him. For , though I might be totally forgettable, I feel part of the bar`s history and wished him good luck with his endeavours in future ; gave the bar staff the number of a F&B industry placement consultant. If you are in this industry & need resources, please do contact me and I can put you onto these blokes. Are there any bars you know, that have long been part of your neighbourhood landscape and got closed. Do you miss them. Drop in your memories.

Comments

3 Responses to "No more Night Watchman"

Neo said... July 1, 2009 at 1:19 AM

Hey

Have you noticed how Bangalore is losing its 'Old World' charm? Plaza theatre, Coffee Board, MG road Promenade and now the Night Watchman!!! sad...
I remember having my shot of Tequila at NW, during the initial days when I acquired the taste!!

Shank said... July 1, 2009 at 6:35 AM

Well said Neo, though NW`s demise had nothing to do with the infrastructure onslaught, still people will miss it.

Rajesh said... July 4, 2009 at 3:29 AM

This is news to me! Night watchman used to be my regular haunt during the 90s. Visited the place 3 days a week. I moved to Delhi and when i was back 7 years later, I did visit the place a few times for old times' sake. It's sad to hear that Night Watchman won't be there anymore.

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About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.



Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.



He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.


This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at www.mybangalore.com also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

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