Review: The new AER is a glamorous voyage of discovery
There’s a lot going on under the spectacular new roof of the refreshed Aer at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Priya Pathiyan gives you a first look at what to expect…
When we brought you the best rooftop bars in India for the monsoon last month, we mentioned that Mumbai’s favourite Aer at the Four Season Hotel Mumbai was undergoing a fabulous transformation. We knew that, like us, you were waiting with bated breath to see the result of its year-long refresh.
Well, here’s our verdict: The new Aer is a breath of fresh air, with a free-flowing vibe that exudes elegance even as it is the last word in comfort. Gone are the alabaster-like ovoids around the island bar, and the elevated seating that set apart the haves from the have-a-lots. Instead, you have inclusive, cosy couches, spacious swivel seats, and more than enough elbow room around the central bar that can be accessed from all four sides.
Think of it as a classy yacht club but with a lot more swag in its pristine latticework, striped flooring, Art Deco arches, and polished brass fittings. The warmth is palpable, be it in the mango milkshake-hued upholstery by day or the wicker floor lamps that cast a golden glow post-dusk. Not to mention in the service by the well-trained team, which goes the extra mile to make your time at Aer very pleasing.
Sundowners have always been a staple at Aer. But, even after a decade of decadence at dusk, the magic of the sun transiting from sky to sea as you sip on something lip-smackingly heady is still quite potent. And now, even more so, as the hugely expensive, Wimbledon-style retractable roof ensures that they can give you the same stunning view but with air-conditioning at the touch of a button! This means that Mumbai’s mugginess, rain, or sunshine don’t take away from the elevated experience.
Phillip Pond of Atelier Pond – New York/Bangkok, who has lent his design vision to several luxury destinations across the globe, is the man behind this reimagining of Aer as a yacht club, replete with nautical stripes and the aura of cheery, to-the-manner-born exclusivity.
A cocktail for every season!
Full marks to the new beverage programme at Aer (curated by the hotel’s new Beverage Manager Alexandre Renoue of Zuma Dubai and Shangri-La Manila fame), which takes inspiration from the many moods of Mumbai’s sea and sky. “The beverage menu is an ode to its nautical ethos and thoughtfully curated as a sensory voyage through the changing patterns of the weather,” says Renoue.
A Clear Skies section captures the spirit of Mumbai skies in spring and summer, the sort of sunshiny vista that a mariner wishes for when setting out to sea, through crystal-clear cocktails. My Mumbai Yacht Club is a fruity-spicy clarified libation made with lemon gin and strawberry vermouth. My companion’s Admiral Martini is rather commanding, with vodka, vermouth, plummy Umeshu, peachy hints, and the tartness of Himalayan apple vinegar.
The Cumulus curation, said to be ‘cloud-kissed concoctions’ is all about froth and fun. On Cloud Nine uses gin with narikela foam, which takes me back to a lovely bar in Galle, Sri Lanka, where I first tasted this coconutty treat.
In the Monsoon section, which is said to offer rejuvenation on rain-soaked days in the form of tall, carbonated drinks, The Spinnaker is the most unique, balancing strong-tasting aged rum, agricole rum, and absinthe, with the as-strong tastes of passion fruit, blackberry, and mint.
As if that were not bold enough, Thunderheads, the mixologists tell me, embodies a bolder spirit with alcohol-forward mixtures. Dark spirits speak of darkening skies. Think cognac, bourbon, or dark rum, laced with sinfully rich cinnamon, maple, chocolate, coffee, and more. Their Lure Of The Siren is enticing, but then so is the entire selection!
More to chew on
If cocktails are not your thing, they have a hand-picked assortment of wines called the Celestial Sommelier’s Collection, a wide array of beers under Mariner’s Brew Voyage and the Mile-High Library, where you can access all your favourite spirits.
While Aer is without doubt a wonderful watering hole, there’s quite a nice selection of small plates and sharing platters to munch on. We found that the menu boasts everything from twists on truffle to tiradito to tacos, to some sensational seafood.
There’s plenty to make a Jain, vegan, or vegetarian feel included too, with innovations such as the deconstructed burrata, sliders made from green banana, and imam bayildi wraps constructed with eggplant and pure love. I held on to my liquid libation for dessert, though I do plan to try that chilled Pomegranate Granita come the October heat!
Guess the new Aer gives us even more of a reason to visit the Four Seasons in every season.