Dewars bar, we will miss you

Large round teak wood tables, comfortable rattan chairs, ancient ceiling fans whirling lazily above, a large gleaming bar counter lined with bottles of the good stuff, and plates fried fish and crisps all around. A perfectly English setting, don’t you think?

Now cover it all up in a layer of dust, put up pictures of the Hindu pantheon next to the portrait of the Queen, replace the young British soldiers at the tables with an assortment of urban Indian humanity, add in a few drunks by the bar, and you had one of old Bangalore’s favourite watering holes: Dewar’s.

Dewar's Pub Bangalore

Dewars Pub depiction by Cartoonist Paul Fernandes. Cartoon credit here

Up until the time it closed in 2010, it was pretty evident that the management took a special pride in maintaining Dewar’s vaguely colonial ethos. While beers came out of a cooler in the back, bottles of hard liquor were drawn discreetly from a cupboard in the corner, and brought directly to the table. The laid back, friendly staff spoke to you like you were family, rattling out the day’s menu at break neck speed, conspiratorially adding on the specialities of the day at the end. The kitchen, once the realm of an Irish cook famous for his breaded fried fish, brain-and-onions and mince patties, continued to produce his legendary dishes, even fifty years after his time.

Over the years, Dewars bar transformed from a white-only bar for Tommie soldiers, to a genteel Indian establishment serving families from the cantonment, to a hippie-and-biker hangout, and finally to its most endearing avatar: a charming step-in bar, that was inexpensive, safe and friendly, making no distinctions between you and whomever you found sitting across the table from you.

Dewar’s closed its doors on Dec 10, 2010, earning itself the distinction of being the oldest pub in the city. The pretty but ramshackle Dewar’s building, perched precariously on the feeder ramp of the Benson town flyover, is now due for demolition.

It was a well-played 77 year innings, for sure. While the city will miss the quaint old building, the collective memories of good old Dewar’s will live on in Bangalorean minds for a while to come.

Sriram Aravamudan
Sriram Aravamudan
Constant gardener, occasional blogger and big time Bangalorean
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  • Suersh Panjje

    Indeed, this piece made me go down the memory lane with my late guardian A V Shankar Rao driving me along this road from Malleswaram to my school at Cox Town in the Plymouth 1952 Cranbrook model during 60s… Later as an adult, I did visit this bar during my annual leave while in the IAF during 70s.

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