India Modern: Hoots’ is redefining the way we drink

No. 26 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022, Hoots’ is a cosy haunt within Perch’s Vasant Vihar outlet that is rewriting the drinks game, one cocktail at a time.

Hoots’ began life as a speakeasy behind a nondescript white door inside Perch, Vasant Vihar. The invite-only cocktail bar was for those in the know. Even as it flew under the radar, Hoots’ steadily built up a reputation on the strength of its craft cocktails and attentive service. Of course, such a fine bar couldn’t stay unnoticed forever.

Last year, Hoots’ made it to the long lists of the World’s 50 Best Bars as well as Asia’s 50 Best Bars. This year it’s in the actual Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, at an impressive No. 26. A few other Indian bars have received similar accolades, indicating that India’s craft cocktail scene has finally come of age.

Hoots' has brooding interiors. Remember it's an owl's perch.
Hoots’ has brooding interiors. Remember it’s an owl’s perch.

Hoots’ itself is built on an elaborate conceit concerning three generations of owls (your host Robert Hoots, his father and his grandfather), each generation with appropriate preferences in drinks. As Sahil Negi, who helms the bar programme at Hoots’ along with Gaurav Rahoni, puts it, grandpa likes his drinks straight, while father’s are a bit twisted and Robert’s even more twisted. In fact, Robert likes them positively futuristic. The signature drinks have no fancy names, just numbers and the regulars know what to ask for.

Albert's negroni, one of the classic cocktails at hoots'.
Albert’s Negroni, one of the classic cocktails at Hoots’.

The cocktails are heavy on technique and many are prepared and batched in advance, so the bartenders can pour them quickly and spend more time interacting with guests, who comprise a sophisticated crowd with a fine knowledge of cocktails. Batch cocktails also ensure consistency, especially if more than one of the same drink is ordered on one table. Keeping the focus firmly on drinks, only small bar bites are available.

Hoots' no. 1 being poured.
Hoots’ No. 1 being poured.

Hoots’ is a cosy space, deliberately dim lit, with vinyl records, leather couches and a smoking room with the finest cigars money can buy. This is not a bar where you come to get sloshed. Hoots’ is where you nurse you drink and learn to appreciate its finer nuances.  

Hoots’, 18-A, 1st floor, Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
Timings: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 6pm-1am}
Reservations: +91-8588889599

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