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Glamour and consistently great drinks notwithstanding, Chennai has a unique value proposition for cocktails at plush five-star hotels – the Tamil Nadu state government imposes a hefty 58% tax on imported liquor (essential for many standard cocktails), which, combined with other overheads, ends up costing you an additional two thirds of the listed menu price.
While stand-alone bars and boutique hotels have no choice but to pass this cost on to the customer, high-end five-star hotels give you an all-inclusive deal, which eventually works out to as much or even lower than the bill amount you would pay otherwise! Here are the best five platinum bars for all that luxe.
Chipstead, Taj Coromandel
One of the most popular watering holes for those in the know, Chipstead has the unique distinction of serving 60 ml pours at single peg prices. The deal gets even sweeter for Taj Innercircle members, who enjoy a happy hours deal every day. The affable men behind the bar can mix a large and exciting selection of cocktails and you would be foolish to not try their signature drinks – Beeda Martini and Southern Spice.
365 A.S., Hyatt Regency
365 is a classy cocktail lounge that concocts the right mix of cheeriness and pizzazz. The plush sofas and airy space make a great space for catching up with friends, and with the dust finally (literally) settling on the Anna Salai (which gives it the AS) metro construction, the leafy outdoor section is a pleasant spot in the evening. The libations to try at the bar are spherified liquor pearls in prosecco, or the rather tamely christened bubble teas. Also enjoy happy hours in the evening from 6 pm to 8 pm and 10 pm to 1 am, Sunday to Thursday.
Library Blu, The Leela Palace
The only sea-facing bar within city limits, Library Blu is a swank blue-hued space that oozes exclusivity. Enjoy a classy sundowner with their signature Blue Cocaine or maybe indulge out of their Absinthe fountains, as you watch the languorous Adayar river merge into the Bay of Bengal. Not cheap though.
Tranquebar, ITC Grand Chola
You might as well be sipping your summery drink at a luxe verandah in the eponymous Dutch Fort, south of Chennai. Sit back, relax and let Tranquebar’s adept barmaids pamper your taste buds with playful cocktails such as The Girl in Yellow Boots and Don of the East.
Willows, The Westin Chennai Velachery
Willows is certainly the underrated gem of the lot – the smart but understated cricket theme keeps it away from sports bar territory but gives a distinct charm to the space. The bar has a compact menu, but offers some first-rate drinks such as the elderflower-based whiskey sour.
Follow Amit @iamitp
A self proclaimed food geek and coffee nerd, Amit Patnaik enjoys his time in the kitchen as much as he loves dining out. He runs the food blog Pursuit of Yummyness and contributes to The Hindu in Chennai.