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Just lounging around

Sofas, cushions, dim lighting: it could be your living room, but it's most likely a hip lounge bar. MetroPlus goes bar crawling to sample the food, music and ambience, which are luring party animals to Bangalore's hottest nightspots



The most important distinguishing factor of a lounge bar is the music.

LOUNGE ON the beanbag, listen to some great music and just relax. No this is not your quiet evening home with the folks; this is what you could do in some of the city's hippest lounge bars! The concept of a lounge bar originated in 1996 when the first Buddha bar was opened at Place de la Concorde in Paris. Described as a creative blend of oriental aromas and a mythical environment, lounge bars typically combine trendily attired waiters, candlelit interiors, exotic cuisine, lounge music, sheeshas and a wide range of liquor.

Bangalore now has restaurants that provide such an ambience; for instance I-Bar at The Park, 1912 on St Marks Road, F-Bar at the Le Meredian, 13th Floor on M.G. Road and newer ones like Aura on Cunningham Road. And they are all big hits.

Says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., "My favourite bar in Bangalore is surely the I-bar at The Park; it has a place to accommodate every mood. We must remember that we are human beings. Our days and nights are filled with ups and downs. There is great cheer in our lives just as there are moments of deep stress. A bar must be able to accommodate and soothe each of these feelings."

International cuisine

Lounge bars offer an envious selection of Indian and imported spirit and unique food. Take for instance the i-lychee (lychee juice spiked with vodka), mojito (muddled lime, mint, brown sugar, white rum and floating spiced infusion) that I-bar offers. Joe Manavalan, a chef himself says: "At 1912, we made a conscious decision not to have the usual menu and have kept it small and snacky, with about 10-12 items which are changed once in three or four days. The cuisine is mainly Indonesian Thai with a touch of French but you could also bite into some tasty Nepalese momos here."

The F-Bar at Le Meridien specialises in Japanese and Korean cuisine. "Some of our specialties are Nigiri Sushi Sakura, California Makis, Ebi Tempura and Mulgogi Barbeque," says Richard De Costa, F&B Manager. At 13th Floor, most of the drinks are named after weapons and arsenal with Parsi, Thai, and tandoori starters to choose from.

Grooving to lounge

Arguably the most important distinguishing factor of a lounge bar is the music. "There is a misconception that every place that has a sofa is a lounge bar. A lounge bar is a place that plays lounge music, which is essentially mellow music. At 1912 we play retro music from the '60s and '70s," explains Joe.

Says DJ Sanjay Dutta: "The crowd is young, fashion-savvy and music-savvy. The atmosphere at I-Bar is chilled out yet electrifying, it has the ability to calm you down as well as provide that rush of adrenaline when required." The F-Bar has music nights on weekends, where variations of house, funky house and hip-hop are played. On Wednesdays, it's R&B and commercial hits.

Fluffy floor cushions and expansive sofas all make for a lounge bar feel. 1912 — the Living Room has low sofas and high back chairs along a curved mahogany bar create a living room experience reminiscent of the early twenties. Fashion TV's first venture into lifestyle business in India spread across 4000 sq. ft is the F-Bar where, "The ambience is sophisticated. We have a lounge with plush sofa seating area and colourful upholstery that stands out against the black-slated walls. Candle lit corners and panel lights which change colors gives the bar an incomparable ambience" says Richard.

That extra something

To try something different a special night is organized once in a month at 1912 like the Godather Night and James Bond Night. F-Bar has several such specials. "We have Ladies Night every Wednesday where ladies enter free and are also served with unlimited beverages ranging from wines, cocktails to champagne. Apart from Ladies Night, we are having Corporate Nights for clients who only need to flash their ID or a business card for a 20 per cent discount," adds Richard.

The popularity of lounge bars can be gauged from the fact that even an apparel brand like Provogue is investing in it. Says Chandrashekhar, a businessman: "It's the music, food and atmosphere that all come together to provide a relaxed evening."

BINDU GOPAL RAO

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