The city of Bangalore knows a good party. While it still recovered from its colonial hangover in the second half of the twentieth century, the city unwittingly birthed a pub culture that was unlike anything India had witnessed before. As the 80s began to draw in, the city went from having a handful of restaurants to gaining its unconquered title as the ‘pub capital of India’.
The city holds a distinct space for boozy camaraderie and the nightlife that emanated from this ultimately led to Bangalore’s pubs becoming unofficial tourist attractions. While the IT boom drove in throngs of people from various other cities, Bangalore became a melting pot for cultures and had a youthful vibrance at its very core.
The late 80s witnessed the rise of a unique culture that undeniably became the pulse of the city. Home to nearly 3000 bars and pubs today, we revisit the yesteryears of Bangalore’s nightlife through some of its iconic pubs.
I. Ramada, Church Street
Originally set up in 1986 by Shri Hari Khoday became the city’s official pre-game spot. Patrons that frequented this bar would ideally begin their weekends with a fresh mug of Khoday’s brewed beer, a plate of masala peanuts and classic South-Indian vadas. The simple yet charming old bar hosted a wide range of guests right from fresh college graduates to retired men who would swing by the bar for a good old catch up with friends over the weekend.
Menacing goons and uncontrollable petty fights in the property is what ultimately led to the closure of Bengaluru’s very first pub.
II. The Pub (renamed NASA), Church Street
Yet another day-timer pub that started off in the same year as Ramada, The Pub became a frequent haunt for a hip, college-going crowd. It was initially designed to replicate the interiors of the space agency, NASA. Affordable liquor, themed-parties, and live music is what drove The Pub to its fame as the decade came to a closure. The spot used to also attract party-goers from Chennai and Mysore who would drive all the way to bar hop in the city.
III. Black Cadillac, Residency road
Established in 1992, Black Cadillac was known to host the créme de la créme of the city. The pub which, true to its name, had a distinctly monochrome decor, played rock music and, even hosted occasional live music gigs within its space.
IV. Dewars Bar, MG road
Possibly the oldest bar in the city, Dewars was initially a popular watering-hole for the British. The bar hosted a loyal clientele that frequented for its liquor and famous mutton chops. Over time, Dewars became an iconic space in the city’s history and heritage until its shutters came down in 2011, leaving behind a 78-year-old legacy.
What was essentially meant to be a Mexican food joint became a wildly popular hangout spot for cheap beers, rock music, and a good time. Pecos which still stands tall, in all its glory is Bangalore’s go-to comfort space that holds in fond memories of the golden years of the city’s pub culture.