We asked about good restaurants in the area. She suggested the Harbor Bar, a lounge bar in the hotel where you can enjoy drinks and order food from any Taj Hotel restaurant.
“Nice!” I said. “The airline clerk recommended it.”
“Yes, and it’s famous for its selection of drinks; the first licensed bar in Bombay,” she added.
“I’m feeling perkier already,” I said.
“Let’s check it out!” Charles smiled.
“Be sure to ask the bartender about the signature cocktail,” the receptionist said, pointing us in the direction of the elevator and lounge.
“Sounds perfect,” I said.
Entering the Harbor Bar, we noticed the liquor license plate: proudly hanging, proclaiming its place in Bombay history as the oldest licensed bar in Bombay.
The greeter showed us to a comfortable window table facing the historic waterfront—overlooking the Gateway to India.
A smiling waiter welcomed us to the stylish lounge bar.
“We have a selection of fine wines, malts, spicy cocktails, and international food fare,” he said. “But first let me tell you a bit of our history.”
We smiled, waiting for him to continue.
“The Harbor Bar opened in 1933,” he said, “during the Prohibition era, and was the first licensed bar in Bombay.”
“An American, traveling across the Indian Ocean in a yacht, was docked in our harbor when he received a radio call from his wife telling him Prohibition in America had ended. He had no alcohol on his yacht and decided to walk to the Taj Mahal Hotel and get a drink to celebrate the news. Entering the Harbor Bar, he asked for a special drink to quench his thirst after many years of not drinking alcohol. The bartender agreed to make him a special drink to commemorate the happy occasion. Using Indian fruit juices, he promised to concoct a tasty cocktail which would blow his mind.
With the first sip of the exotic cocktail, the man shouted in glee. ‘What is the name of this amazing drink?’
The bartender smiled and said, ‘Sir, since it’s an original made special for you, you can name it.’
The American stood, raised his glass, and shouted, ‘From the Harbor Since 1933!’”
“What a great story,” I said, laughing. “I’d like to try it.”
“Flambéed at the table,” the waiter said.
“Flambéed?” I asked. “Even better.”
Charles nodded. “When in Bombay … we’ll have two.”
The waiter returned with a cart holding two wine glasses filled with sliced fruit and another glass filled with fresh squeezed fruit juice and ice. He poured the content of the two glasses into a shaker and shook it with the fancy flair of a seasoned performer, and poured the mixture into two fluted bowl shaped glasses.
“Gorgeous glasses.” I said. “Shaped like the kerosene hurricane lamp my grandmother used during storms when power went out.”
“It’s called a hurricane glass,” he said.
I laughed. “Of course.”
He poured gin into another waiting wine glass, and struck a match to light it.
“Oh,” I said, watching the flames rise.
He swirled the glass and flames around, and slowly poured the flambéed gin into our hurricane glasses. One last stir and the signature cocktail was presented with a broad smile.
The flames disappeared. We sipped the tasty cocktail.
“Peachy and light,” I said, asking for the recipe.
“Gin, crème de peach, pineapple juice, and green chartreuse.”
“Thank you!” I noted the ingredients in my travel journal.
“Flambéed to perfection,” Charles said.
We clinked glasses together, and said, “Cheers!” in unison.
The waiter smiled.
We decided to order dinner from a restaurant located in the hotel named Tanjore. Our waiter explained their menu offered dishes from all of India’s diverse regions. He suggested we order a sampler platter for two, which represents all of them. “You won’t be disappointed,” he added, and explained tastes of India vary tremendously, as a result of local culture, geographical location, seasons, and economics.
Charles asked the waiter to select a white wine to go with all of the different cuisines.
“An Alsace Pinot Gris,” he suggested. “It provides a touch of sweetness.”
“Perfect,” Charles said.