PCO Mumbai’s new cocktail menu weaves a compelling ‘Ode to Textiles’
Priya Pathiyan explores the wonderful warp and weft of the Indian fabric-inspired cocktails at PCO Mumbai
It’s a balmy night in Mumbai. Made even more pleasant by the cool air circulated through the al fresco garden of PCO, a sophisticated speakeasy in Lower Parel. The brother-sister duo of the Dhariwals — Radhika and Rakshay — founders of Pass Code Hospitality, have flown down from Dubai and Delhi respectively to announce the launch of their latest cocktail menu.
Called An Ode to Textiles, it’s a menu that respects the location of the cocktail bar. Now a plush hotspot for the high life, NRK House was in the old Kamala Mills compound, where Naveen R Kapur ran an iconic textile house for years. “Nestled amongst the cotton mills and auction houses, this forgotten landmark had a rich history of dealing in some of India’s most beautiful fabrics; and it is this history that we capture in each cocktail that we present to you. Each cocktail has been inspired by a particular fabric — and we have tried our best to bring the essence of each of these fabrics to you. By paying homage to some of the characteristics, rituals and emotions associated with these different textiles, each cocktail has been created by one of our barkeeps and weaves its own, unique story,” says Rakshay.
The mixologists behind this exceptional menu have expertly woven the essence of these fabrics into each cocktail, honouring the traits, traditions, and emotions associated with textiles. Crafted by eight bartenders, the 15 signature cocktails have an Indian twist, each one beautifully conceptualised, crafted, and served. Their ice programme is on point too, with various shapes that do justice to the type of serve. Sourabh Patil is the man behind Pashmina, Paithani, Kantha, and Muslin; Akshay Waghmare has created Banarasi, Satin, and Raw Silk; Vishal Tawde is the creator of Velvet and Chiffon; Kiran Pawar has conceptualised Hemp and Corduroy, Brocade is by Rakesh Avhad, Bandhani by Rutik Matkar, Kalamkari by Prashant Patil, and Kanchipuram Silk by Franklin D’Souza.
The first one I try is the Banarasi, perhaps because it has the emotional connect of being my wedding saree, but also because I’ve visited the weavers in Varanasi’s Lallapura area and seen them create the wonder weaves in the harshest of conditions. Akshay Waghmare has captured the bittersweet nature of their existence in this Negroniesque drink that fuses Gordon’s gin, with Cinzano Rosso vermouth, and Campari infused with betel leaf (that staple of every true-blue Banarasi!). I like that he has added absinthe for that amazing hit of anise and the heart-shaped betel leaf over ice to garnish.
More than just a sip
It’s not just about getting a great drink though. Once my order arrives at my table, I’m invited to bring it to their gorgeous private dining room, where their team gives me an immersive mini adventure centered around my cocktail. I take a sip, I run my fingertips over the lustrous fabric it’s dedicated to, I watch a short video that brings the story of the textile’s origins to life, and has the mixologist of the cocktail explaining their vision for it. The team spritz a bit of the essence of the scent that permeates my drink so all my senses can enjoy it to the fullest.
It’s a really cool way to get guests to engage more with their drinks and the bar staff, besides being fabulous for social media, of course. Radhika says they are thinking of extending this evolved experience beyond the launch night, as these cocktails are not just drinks; they are individual stories, each with their own complexity and perspective.
PCO Cocktail Bar | Near Kamala Mills Gate No.1, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai | Timings: 5 pm to 1.30 am | Call: +919920055588.