A cold winter evening, a PCO booth, three trench coats and a one-time password – 1350# .The door on our right unlocks for precisely five seconds. The password was given to us earlier that day over phone and we were now standing before a white staircase that led us to a bar on the far right corner with an imposing bookshelf in front. Dimly lit, with Sinatra like covers floating around, the room upstairs was, peaceful and pristine.
We were sitting inside 'PCO', the most recent speakeasy in Vasant Vihar, Delhi. We were refused any assistance when we had phoned earlier, for the owners wish to steer the bar away from any kind of Publicity. Themed around the 1920s Prohibition era, the wall of the cigar room flaunts a portrait of Al Capone smoking a Cigar, opposite Sigmund Freud. Comfortably seated on leathered couches, surrounded by photographs of Robert Downy Jr, Che Guevara, Jack Nicholson and of course, Winston Churchill who is known to have said, "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." Below Churchill's photograph lies a cigar case holding Churchill's personal favourite Cuban brand 'Romeo Julieta' along with some Hoyo De Monterry and Siglo brands and a cigar cutter.
Each table is placed next to a brass coat hanger at knee level, were we decide to place our coats and snap out of our 'Brigade' obsession. A Soothing jazz cover of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance by Marcela Mangabeira puts a smile on the face as we order the three drinks that would best suit the theme –Mount Gay rum with coke, Stella Artois beer, and Hendricks gin with tonic. Probably a scotch or Lager would also have suited the time capsule where photographs of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe talking over a phone, dominated the walls. Scotch, it seems was Hepburn's favourite drink after 6pm, and she poured herself as much as a fingers length each time.
An artful yet casual concoction of wooden planks and bar stools gave the basement an abandoned yet bustling look. PCO arouses the strangest sense of nostalgia with beer barrels as occasional tables and drooping bulbs.
Next to the bookshelf stands a full length mirror which we accidentally walked into, only to realise that it opens up to a private lounge, which we entered half expecting to find Al Pacino seated on the heavy leather chair behind the table. We were told that the space could also be booked for parties at approximately Rs. 50, 000. While the upper floor was calm and poised, the beer stein dragged us to the basement were lay the real speakeasy.Image 2nd
A snug parlour in our populated metropolis, were the woodsy bar was bustling with louder music and chatter. An artful yet casual concoction of wooden planks and bar stools gave the basement an abandoned yet bustling look. PCO arouses the strangest sense of nostalgia with beer barrels as occasional tables and drooping bulbs. It definitely revisits the prohibition vibe and mystery. But we decide to go upstairs to relish our food in brighter light.
We stare at the one page food menu, and instantly decide upon, a grilled sol with sour cream, chicken steak in mushroom sauce and a grilled polenta steak with mint flavoured green pea mash and vegetables. The sol was soft and flaky with a dark brown tinge while the mushroom sauce for the chicken was well grounded and creamy. A hearty meal and eight centuries later, we found ourselves in the parking lot debating whether PCO's desire for exclusivity had overshadowed the entire point of a speakeasy (and also if we could reuse the password and enter again maybe.)