Canteen Cocktails Third Edition: A Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay
We waited till the third edition of Canteen Cocktails to explore a dream theme – the city’s affair with the Talkies. For this project, we got Bombayphile, Bombay expert and Bombay tour operator Simin Patel to breathe life back into these once-glorious buildings through her words.
Once Simin’s literature poured in, the menu started shaping up as a guidebook to six of the city’s most iconic single-screen cinemas that sparked Bombay’s affair with the movies. We immediately parked ourselves outside each of the six, sketching the beauties and imagining all the drama that unravelled in front of and behind their weathered screens.
The plot thickened, as it does in all good Hindi movies, with the cocktails. As Simin identified the iconic movies that made these cinema halls famous, The Bombay Canteen bartenders got to work crafting drinks to match the drama.
Miss Frontier Mail, a potent concoction of gin, Triple Sec, egg white, orange and lime, was named after the Fearless Nadia film that had a long run at Imperial Cinema, and made to match the feisty spirit of its fearless heroine.
The bartenders interpreted Shakti Kapoor’s double role in the 1962 film China Town as two drinks on their menu listed under one name. Order a China Town and you will be presented with a choice, a drama-packed Johnnie Walker cocktail with a smokey single malt, pandan tincture, hibiscus syrup and bitters; and a beer by Great State, brewed just for this dynamic cocktail.
Part menu, part guide, the book shaped up into a gift for locals and tourists, complete with recipes and a map to go cinema-hopping. The book was even laid out in such a way that if you wanted to take a tour of the talkies, you simply had to move from one to the other in the order in which they have been presented in the book, without the aid of an actual guide.
After 6 months of intense ideation, research, planning, recipe testing and more, we agreed that each cocktail book should be launched with a grand party based on the theme of the books. Bolstered by the highly anticipated Canteen Cocktail Party, the books have remained in circulation and conversation long after the drinks were refreshed. Glance around the Canteen tables and you will now see a balanced mix of Canteen cocktails and signature dishes, which is all the motivation we need to return to the drawing board to plan for the next edition of Canteen Cocktails.