Although my time in Mumbai was all about recovering from jet lag, I did explore the busy streets. The highlight, fittingly, was discovering Mumbai’s signature cocktail at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. As I found out, the From the Harbour Since 1933 cocktail is well worth seeking it out.
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Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Stumbling on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and its signature cocktail was a combination of curiosity and retreat. We set out to see the Gateway of India and in the process found that half of the country was doing the same. It was the start of a national holiday and it felt like everyone descended on this spot as their choice destination.
Keep in mind, I grew up in Northern Canada. This felt like more people than my hometown combined.
Tired and overwhelmed by the crowds and those that wanted pictures of us, we left the iconic monument for a moment of peace. We found it next-door inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Built in 1903, this five-star heritage hotel has long been the accommodation of choice for the well-to-do visiting Mumbai. Hanging inside it’s pristine hallways are countless images of past and present Prime Minister’s, Presidents, and celebrities. A stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel can cost between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. Not being royalty nor the well-to-do type, we made our way to the bar for a refreshing break.
The Harbour Bar
Stepping inside The Harbour Bar is also stepping inside Mumbai’s first licensed bar. Although the bar dates back to the 1930’s, little indication of this history is visible today. The interior is modern and posh which was a bit of a surprise to me. I envisioned something similar to the Long Bar in Singapore, home of the Singapore sling. Sadly, there is a good reason for this. In 2008, a Pakistani lead terrorist group attacked the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. After a three day siege that left many dead, much of the hotel was in ruins including significant damage to the Harbour Bar.
The Harbour Since 1933 Cocktail
Although the interior has changed since the bar’s opening in 1933, one thing that remains is its signature cocktail. “From The Harbour Since 1933“ was dreamt up after two American sailors demanded a quenching drink to celebrate the end of probation. Clearly not one to back down from a challenge, the bartender crafted an ambitious cocktail that is still served table side to this day.
The show is as great as the drink is refreshing. Our server rolled up his cart and began a rundown of the drink for what must’ve been his one-thousandth time. “From the Harbour Since 1933” starts with peach liqueur, pineapple and cranberry juice, and Gin mixed with ice. Next, a Brandy glass with Green Chartreuse rests over a flame. This is where the show gets good.
The Green Chartreuse is flambeed to the “Ooo’s and Ahh’s” of the crowd. A long flaming pour into the gin and juice follows. Snoop Dogg would approve.
The drink is finished off with fresh apple slices and pomegranate.
India is cheap. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is Not
Running on a mix of jet lag, adrenaline, and sweet cocktails, we overstayed our visit at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel by several drinks. Similar to our time mixing jet leg and food in Tokyo, a deadly mix that lead resulted in $400 tempura, we missed calculated the conversion rate. What I thought was eight dollars for a Kingfisher was actually eighteen. That said, the cocktails including “From the Harbour Since 1933” is only $20. This is very reasonable with the history and show it gets you and is more than worth seeking out when in Mumbai.
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