Bars to Watch: Delhi’s Khi Khi puts the giggle into your glass
Priya Pathiyan tells you what to expect at Khi Khi, the international bar with an Indian soul.
The iconic PVR Priya has been a hub of entertainment in Delhi for decades. And now, just above it, is another establishment that has had the capital making a beeline for it since it opened. Khi Khi, as its co-founder Chef Tarun Sibal (along with Bipin Sibal and Navdeep Singh Sethi) likes to put it, isn’t just a physical space, it’s a state of mind.
Its core of playfulness is evident in its colourful interiors, created by design firm DCA. And the Khi Khi Wall that is already legendary on Instagram, is a thing of joy, with flat vector graphics and pop culture iconography depicting the urban Indian woman in her many fun and funky avatars, each vibrant, vivacious, and sometimes giggling wickedly. Created by Jayesh Sachdev, celebrated designer, and founder of Quirk Box, it sets the tone for Khi Khi’s #stirredwithsatire spirit.
The first thing that greets guests at the table is the ‘Khikhizine’ on their table. It not only makes for great reading, with an editorial note by Chef Tarun and loads of humour, but also takes you through the restobar’s food and beverage offerings.
The cocktail menu especially, doesn’t pull any ‘pun’ches. It reminds us of the Bombay Canteen’s Cocktail Book in that it is cool and high concept… a collectible you want to bring home! We’re not sure what the team thinks of guests swiping their zine, but we’re hoping they’ll khi-khi a bit and forget about it.
Grin and bar it
The ‘cocktails at a glance’ page, which is cleverly designed to resemble a wine glass, hits you with a whammy of all 20 of their creative concoctions. Apart from the Bellini (meant to help you slip into a comfortable mood while choosing your drink!), Mojito, Colada, and Cosmopolitan, which are rather classic, though a trifle elevated, the remaining are complex in concept, high on technique, and unique in taste. I won’t give away all the clever lines the menu uses… getting you to giggle a little while you’re at Khi Khi is the entire point, after all.
If you grew up on popcorn and cola while gazing at the silver screen one level down, enjoy the more adult version of the combo with the Cinema Highball. Popcorn-infused Jack Daniels, using sous vide and clarified with a butter wash, plus Coca Cola. DDLJ moment not included.
Tired of highballs (though they do have those too), then try Lowballing, which puts Patron Silver together with rose, almond, plum, and then adds carbonation to the unlikely yet interesting mix! Not afraid to break rules, this team. So, despite what all good editors say about long, unwieldy headlines, one of their signature cocktails gives you a mouthful of a name before it gives you a mouthful of pleasure. A Gimlet Full of Flowers, Maybe the Whole Garden is all about Tanqueray and lime with a whole bouquet of flavours — blue pea, hibiscus, chamomile, lavender, yellow chartreuse, orchid petals, dandelions, daffodils, dehydrated rose, and sunflowers.
If the HHH Sour, featuring Hendrick’s gin, homemade limoncello, honey, vegan foam, and lemon candy, doesn’t get you to pucker up, then the idea behind Can I Buy You a Drink just might! The Fair-Trade Paloma, which is hyper-local and super sustainable with Indian citrus, ginger, and kokum salt, will win you ‘woke points’, while The Good Looking Spritz, with watermelon shrub guarantees an instant rise in engagement and followers. And in case you’re craving some apple pie his autumn, Yes Chef , a toque tip to the kitchen team, made with whiskey, fluffy apple juice and fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Of all the great drinks, we think Dili 6 is the one that best embodies the food menu’s philosophy of melding the modern with the traditional. Think tequila with thandai liqueur, almond milk, pistachio-almond sprinkles and shaved mango ice. Takes you to Chandni Chowk, minus all the mayhem.
Khi Khi is liberating in many ways, via its wildly creative small and medium cuisine-agnostic plates as well as its mixology. Plus, I love the fact that it encourages its guests to get out there and have a good time, unafraid to giggle, jiggle, wiggle, mingle, and tingle with excitement, and do anything else that aids everyone in stirring up that positive perspective.
Khi Khi: F-02, first floor, above PVR Priya, 61, Basant Lok Market, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi 110057 | Timings: one pm to one am | Call: +919810608173