The Bombay Canteen

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Boss! One more round, please!

With the first edition of Canteen Cocktails being a roaring success, we simply had to keep the momentum going. There were so many nuances of Bombay we could base our book on, but after extensive thought, ‘The slang that envelopes the streets of Mumbai’ came out victorious.

Canteen Cocktails Second Edition: Celebrating the Mumbai in Bombay

Our second Canteen Cocktail book offered tipplers a crash course on Mumbai’s unique slang, ‘the words caught between the bogeys of the local, overheard at the macchi market, words that run the street and become the soundtrack of Mumbai’. Familiar to some and alien to others, the words filled the Canteen as you had to utter them to order the cocktails that they inspired.

In Mumbai’s street parlance, a Bantai is a friend, but not just any friend. It refers to the special bond typically between two men prone to interlocking their pinky fingers while walking on the street. Inspired by this strange fetish, the Bantai was an odd albeit endearing coupling of dark rum, raspberry liqueur, pineapple, plum bitters, starfruit, lime and egg white.

Among some Jhakaas others, a crowd favourite in terms of the word, the sentiment (and the cocktail) was Boss, a phrase used for the street smart, the cops, the taxi drivers, anyone who roams Mumbai with enough authority and swagger. To match the spirit of ‘boss’, the Canteen crafted a cocktail that balanced whisky, smoky single malt, creme de cacao, fresh beetroot juice, orange, pineapple, and bitters.


After the first pop-up menu, which was lapped up as a Mumbai collectible by locals and tourists, we took a completely new creative risk with the second edition of the book. It was February and book number two was laid out as a calendar, not your regular, one-dimensional desktop companion, but a loud, larger than life interactive installation of sorts dressed in neon colours, loud fonts and prints typically found in Mumbai’s taxis, rickshaws and fabric shops. The calendar was kept decidedly busy to reflect the chaos and cacophony of our manic city.

The Result:

Inspired by the layered cocktails in this book, we went a step further and layered our menu/calendar with hints, songs and tips. It became, as we had hoped, a quick reckoner on Mumbai’s hidden landmarks, names of beach cleaning activists, tour operators, animal-focused NGOs and other motley takeaways.

Two down, and the Canteen Cocktail local keeps chugging along. Follow this link to read about the third edition.

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