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Bars to Watch: Pune, get ready to feel the Juju heat this winter

November 28, 2023

Priya Pathiyan falls under the spell of Juju, the all-new Mexican tequileria in Kalyani Nagar.


Pune’s already vibrant nightlife has seen a transformation of sorts in the last couple of years. Elephant & Co and Cobbler & Crew, created by the same owners, have added a new level of excitement to the Kalyani Nagar area. Not only are their bar offerings noteworthy, but they regularly bring in world-renowned mixologists for guest shifts and masterclasses with their consultancy called Cocktails of Tomorrow, which have elevated Pune’s collective cocktail cred.


So, when Vijeta Singh and Karan Khilnani open up a new space, it’s not surprising that everyone makes a beeline to see if the magic makers have done it yet again, bringing their mojo to a Mexican bar called Juju. We were there on the Mexican Day of the Dead, a festival that celebrates the spirits of ancestors with marigolds, painted skulls, and these days, a lot of Halloween-like décor. It made sense to be at Juju to feel the juju, which means ‘magical properties dealing with good luck’ on a night like that.


And, boy, did we feel lucky! Their freshly made guac, served in classic as well as a hipstered up version with edamame and truffle, was spectacular when scooped up with crisp corn chips and washed down with their potent Paloma 4.0 (Tequila Reposado, grapefruit cordial, watermelon, acids). Head Mixologist Rahul Kamath confessed that the four-oh tag was only because they tried three other versions until they perfected this Paloma. We think it was worth the experimentation.


Juju, Pune
Head Mixologist Rahul Kamath is passionate about all his concoctions, but maybe a tiny bit partial to his Paloma 4.0! Images: Priya Pathiyan (left) and courtesy Juju (right).


Speaking of experimentation Chef Partner Hanoze Shroff, one of the masterminds behind Juju, went into raptures talking about his seemingly simple but actually quite complex Freshly Cut Watermelon. A great dish for a summer day, it also made sense on a crisp Pune evening thanks to its sprinkling of hot Juju spice and Mexican Tajin seasoning. While most of the dishes stay true to their Mexican heritage or some with a hint of Nikkei influences, there are some like the Braised Jackfruit Tinga, which bring together the fruit with the very American Monterey Jack cheese, Bhavnagari chillies, and avocado cream, in what seems like an unlikely but ultimately successful combination.


Juju, Pune
Colour, texture, taste, experience, freshness… the food at Juju ticks all the right boxes. Images: Priya Pathiyan.


The food menu is all tasty tapas-style apertivos and soft-shell tacos with a variety of delicious fillings and the tortillas made fresh daily. Great, for sure. The interiors are warm and inviting. The unique hanging lights and the green, backlit bar make for some serious eye candy. And their playlist, which includes all sorts of luscious Latin sounds, is one that we’d like to add to our own faves!


Juju, Pune
Inviting interiors and a fun vibe. Image: Courtesy Juju.

Tequila sunrise

It all seems very win win. But wait… will a bar that pooh-poohs vodka work in a city like Pune? Well, if the initial response is anything to go by, this is the birth of a tequila sunrise in the city! There’s a lot of creativity behind their mixology that is underpinned by copious amounts of Tequila Reposado, Tequila Blanco, some mezcal, agave, and a few liqueurs and inhouse syrups.


Juju, Pune
Tequila all the way! Image: Priya Pathiyan.


Margarita Al Pastor (with Cointreau, lime, and a taco mix), and the even more interesting Old George Sour (combining absinthe with cucumber, basil, and cardamom, is a coup!) are adaptations from those by Licorería Limantour, the pathbreaking bar from Mexico City.


The cocktail list is considerable. And if you like some heat in your drink even as you cool down, you’re really going to enjoy the Juju journey.  Punekars love their chilli, so we are guessing this is the perfect pairing.


Juju, Pune
Most of the cocktails have quite a bite to them! Images: Priya Pathiyan.


Our favourite though was the Dead Man’s Switch, which, ironically, is quite a lively mix of Campari, lime, and almond orgeat, with Tequila Blanco, or an upgrade to Jose Silver. The strength of tequila is perfectly balanced by the bittersweet notes of the Campari and orgeat.


Juju, Pune
There’s drama in every drink but some more than others! Images: Priya Pathiyan.


Shooting stars

Their Juju Bomb is a vibe. Beer in a beautiful ceramic glass, with tequila, lime, and a hit of chilli hidden inside. But we think the actual high comes from doing a group cheer the Juju way and drinking together!



The intriguingly named Bandera shot is not only spectacular, but also a spectacle. Tequila, lime, and their own homemade sangrita, a tomato-based chaser that is heavy on the heat, are served separately, to be downed one after the other. If you do a solo Mexican wave after this one, we won’t blame you!

Juju, Pune
It’s three to tango with the potent Bandera shot! Images: Priya Pathiyan. 

Address: Road 15, Nilanjali Society, Kalyani Nagar, Pune | Call: +918087865906.

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