The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

How many you have discovered

Varun Sudhakar’s AB Cocktail

Varun Sudhakar represented India at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Aer is in, or rather on the Four Seasons Hotel, which opened in Mumbai four years ago. Curviform molded plastic furniture in monochrome fills the open-air top-floor lounge bar on the 34th floor, which has excellent views over southern Mumbai and Haji Ali Bay, with the vast blue expanse of the Arabian Sea beyond. You can enjoy international mezze and bar tapas way above the busy streets of Worli in this, metropolitan Mumbai’s highest rooftop bar.

The Bartender

Varun Sudhakar must have one of the best views from work in the world. Behind the curvy oval bar, Varun, 27, has transitioned from a flair bartender to become one of Mumbai’s finest mixologists. ‘I believe all cocktails are already created, what we do is reconstruct,’ Varun says, ‘I am now very simple and clean with my style. I have never got bored behind a bar and there’s always something to learn, that’s what I love about my job.’ I like spice and bitter drinks,’ he says, ‘star anise and cinnamon are favourites, so too are wild gooseberries here in India – which are less sweet than western ones.’

The Drink

The AB cocktail is a homage to the Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan (you can see him in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby). Varun decided that this drink needed a sophisticated whisky, and chose Johnnie Walker Platinum Label for its sweet, elegant Speyside style and rich, intense flavour. ‘For this drink I used a homemade Darjeeling tea reduction, cinnamon and lemon juice to better meld with the Johnnie Walker Platinum Label.’ The aroma of the spice is the introduction of an AB cocktail, because Varun scents the glass with cinnamon smoke for guests to experience before pouring in the drink.


The Technique

Johnnie Walker Platinum Label • 90ml
Darjeeling tea reduction (sweetened) • 30ml
Fresh lemon juice • 25ml
Sugar syrup • 25ml
Lemon zest
Cinnamon sticks
Serves 2. Contains 15 grams of alcohol per serve

Pre-prepare the tea reduction by infusing loose Darjeeling tea in freshly boiled water. Simmer to reduce and add sugar to taste, double strain and allow to cool.

Smoke a Martini glass with cinnamon. Add ice, sugar syrup, lemon juice, the tea reduction and Johnnie Walker Platinum Label to a mixing glass. Shake and strain into the smoked Martini glass. Garnish with lemon zest.

Varun recommends the AB cocktail particularly in the cooler months between September and February, though new awnings make rooftop drinking in India a possibility, even an entertainment through the dramas of a monsoon.

Enjoy the refined and intense drink on this super-chic sky balcony while you drink in the view – half mighty metropolis, half open ocean – as the sun drops over the horizon.

Varun’s Insider’s Guide to Mumbai

Place to eat
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge

Place to lounge
The Ellipsis

Place to dance
The Irish House

Place to shop
The Palladium

Place to visit
Marine Drive

Place to see

Images by Aneesh Bhasin