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We’d already had a successful breakfast at Dishoom in Edinburgh, which included a potent Bloody Mary – drinking anything boozier so early in the day would have ended in disaster. It wasn’t long before I found myself back in Dishoom for some more liquid fun.
Dishoom’s Permit Room is featured in Edinburgh’s best secret bars
The team behind Dishoom welcome you to the Permit Room. Named after the official term for all Bombay drinking establishments, in which, according to the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, only permit-holders may consume alcohol (and only ‘for preservation and maintenance of one’s health’!).
Hidden beneath the kitchen of Dishoom Edinburgh at 3a St Andrew Square, the Permit Room pays homage to the Bombay tradition of Parsi theatre. This delightful tradition saw Persian, Indian and English stage classics (including Shakespeare) reimagined in Hindu, Urdu, Gujarati and English. Known for preposterous plots and eccentric characters, Parsi theatre drew all kinds of people to the Pila House district of Bombay. (The area with the most theatres and comes from an Indianisation of the words ‘Play House’.)
The Dishoom team visited Bombay institutions like Capitol Theatre and the Royal Opera House to research the Permit Room’s design. They collaborated with Bombay author Meher Marfatia to carefully curate the artwork that decorates the walls – all authentic photos of famous Parsi playwrights, and heroes of Parsi theatre, as well as original theatre posters. The bar menu is also complete with original adverts from the period and hand- drawn illustrations giving you a detailed guide to available tipples.
Dishoom’s award-winning Daru-walla, Carl Brown, has devised a brand new list of cocktails especially for the Permit Room.
For Edinburgh’s designated drivers, expectant mothers and tee-totallers, he has concocted a truly unique selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, affectionately known as ‘copy tipples.’ These clever tipples led to the Permit Room menu being awarded ‘Non-alcoholic bar menu of the year’ for 2016 by The Spirits Business.
The copy tipples all look, feel and taste like serious drinks, but are entirely alcohol-free. The range includes:
Smoked demerara, orange bitters, juniper, applewood, cayenne and orange peel. Fire in the throat, warmth in the belly. But no need of alcohol!
Sophistication neatly executed with juniper, ginger and gentian root in grape and cucumber waters. Gin-like bitterness and warmth. The absence of liquor is most difficult to believe.
This peaty Whisky Sour has no whisky, nor any other spirit. Note the warming aromas of juniper, ginger, lemon, holy basil and secret botanicals.
For those that are after something a little stronger, the bar menu also includes some delicious, never-seen-before cocktails, which take inspiration from the Parsi theatre tradition.
Made with Smoked Chikoo – Indian pear – and Johnnie Walker Black Label, topped with a soda fizz. Named in honour of the foremost playwright Adi Marzban, whose audiences relished his scripts as heartily as his newspaper.
Refreshing and long, with 1800 Coconut Tequila, alluring liqueurs – Chartreuse, Cointreau, pistachio, rhubarb – and ample fresh jackfruit juice. Regulars of Bombay’s Pila (Play) House would delight of such a tipple before curtain call.
A cinnamon-tinted threesome of Hayman’s sloe gin, fresh lemon juice and ginger. Much like the mad 1968 parsi caper Tirangi Tehmul, which sees a hapless fellow juggling a trio of women. A sly Dishoom pimento soda adds a little spice to the affair.
The soundtrack to the Permit Room is confident, eclectic and surprising. Resident DJs will be playing everything eclectic and rootsy – carefully curated soul, vintage R&B, new wave gems and funky retro Indian beats. From 11pm each evening the music goes up, the lights go down and the party really starts in the Permit Room.
The Permit Room is open every evening from 5pm until 3am.
Reservations are available for groups of up to 12 guests from 5pm until 1:30am every night. For all reservation enquiries please email email@example.com.
It’s only a matter of time before we arrive at Dishoom for breakfast and end up spending the entire day there!
The alcohol-free cocktails were proper grown-up drinks rather than overly sweet mock-tails that hardly touch the sides. Anybody opting out of booze will be able to enjoy a leisurely drink with friends – rather than attempting to make a coke last longer than 5 minutes.
Each cocktail has its own story and the amount of effort that goes into each drink is staggering, make sure you ask for more information when you visit for even greater appreciation of what’s in your glass.
See you soon Dishoom!
The Permit Room beneath Dishoom
3a St Andrew Square