The exterior transports you to Disneyland, the interior replicates a bespoke West End club and the terrace provides a stunning view of the 12th century Qutub Minar, barely a hundred metres away. Welcome to Dramz Whiskey Bar and Lounge that is surprisingly light on the pocket for a fine diner.
“Good whiskey makes everything taste better, from conversations to food. They are like the melody and harmony of the perfect culinary composition,” its owner and restaurateur Sunil Aggarwal, who belongs to a distinguished business family of Delhi, said at a food tasting session where head chef Pankaj Sharma served up a specially curated five-course lunch.
“The golden hue of a single malt and the bouquet of aroma surrounds you and your consciousness in myraid ways. You levitate in a world that is beyond the boundaries of fine dining. When a single malt is paired with the right preparation, dressed impeccably to suit the mood that only rarity can achieve, it spiritualises your palate and gently takes you to a world where tradition is indomitable, where taste is philosophy at work,” Aggarwal, whose family owns the well-known BL & Co pharmacy in south Delhi, added.
“I’ve been around the world and I’ve tried to replicate the best of what I’ve seen on my travels,” he said, as the starter, two luscious prawns in garlic butter, was served up. Crunchy and smokey, it came with a single malt from Aggarwal’s personal collection — bottle number 44 of 100, which, out of deference to him, will not be named.
To backtrack a bit, the afternoon began over a glass of wine in the ground floor lounge done up in the style of an old English/Scottish cottage with comfortable leather-bound chairs and sofas. One wall was taken up with stone-fired bricks and a fireplace topped off with an artwork of the Qutub Minar and the other with a series of prints of Scottish breweries and replicas of currency notes — including one reading “Two rupees eight annas”.
“All this is from his personal collection,” said Aggarwal’s sister-in-law, Seema Aggarwal, who jointly runs the establishment with him.
And, of course, there’s the bar — all of 80 varieties of single malts from around the world, backed up by a full collection of wines, a variety of other alcohols and an extensive cigar humidor.
There’s also a basement with an expansive wine cellar and seating for some 12 people around a rectangular table and many more along the walls for tasting sessions and other intimate get-togethers.
The main dining area is on the first floor for some 50 covers and a private alcove for another dozen while the huge terrace — a floor above and with a variable seating arrangement — provides a magnificent view of the Qutub Minar.
I did say five-course meal but each course had multiple choices. Thus, for the appetiser, I chose the pulled lamb with pan toasted bread, a cold, round and delectable mix of finely chopped meat, vegetables and onions. Accompanying this was a 12-year Glenfiddich, which I chose to stick with for the rest of the meal.
It was then time for the soup — a clear chicken variety with adequate globules of meat.
What was also interesting was the presentation. The prawns came in a rectangular wooden dish, the appetiser on a porcelain tray and the soup in a cup and saucer, with the stock being poured at the table to ensure that the chicken retained its sponginess.
Aggarwal, however, pointed out that he didn’t go much by the presentation.
“I think the ultimate test is the quality of the food. I’ve had food by starred Michlen chefs and wondered what the dickens I was eating. But then, that’s not to detract from the presentation,” he conceded.
It was then time for the main course and with Chef Sharma rightly not egging me on, I opted for the baked sea bass with olives, tomato and lime foam. In a word, delicious, with the fish just rightly done and the cumin seeds and the lime foam enhancing the experience.
After all this, could one ask for more? Chef Sharma had just the right thing up his sleeve: a warm chocolate brownie with oodles of chocolate sauce accompanied by a scoop of hazelnut ice cream and a sprinkling of chocolate flakes.
So, how much would all this cost?
“Oh, I guess a thousand bucks per head, minus the alcohol,” Aggarwal offered.
Seeing my look of perplexity, he added: “I set out to run a place where people in their 40s and 50s and above can come and relax, quietly sip a drink, enjoy a meal and even smoke a cigar.”
Does that mean commerce is not the bottom line?
“Nope,” Aggarwal replied, adding: “I want people to savour and remember the experience.”
It’s sure good to know that there are people like him in this day and age.
Where: DRAMZ Whiskey Bar and Lounge, QR 1580/1, K.D. Marg, Near Qutub Minar, Mehrauli.
Timing: 1 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. (last order)
Meal for two: Rs.2,000 (without alcohol)