It’s no big secret that auto-rickshaw drivers are the final authority on all things Mumbai. So, looking at a slew of them parked dutifully outside Drunken Munkey at 1 am on a school night seemed like a clinching attestation of this new haunt’s rising popularity. Of course, their very generous prices help too.
All IMFL drinks are available for a grand total of Rs 59 (nope, that’s no typo) plus taxes between 6 and 7.30 pm, in addition to regular happy hours that are on until 1 am Thursday, and ending at 9 pm on weekends. If you’re still not sold on the place, then read on as we give you plenty of reason to head here at least once.
It has been divided into two distinct sections – the quiet, carefree, almost-nonchalant al fresco café with large trees shielding it from the road outside, and the inside section, which is caught halfway between having a classy oriental restaurant vibe, a cosy lounge-setting, and a club blaring music at deafening levels, the final one being the most prominent. The Drunken Monkey even has a different décor for each section, and sure it’s a bit confused, but somehow, its also very endearing and welcoming, with comfortable seating and a bright red door that doesn’t actually open or lead anywhere.
There’s also a bunch of images of monkeys (or ‘munkeys’, if you will) on the walls all over. Personal favourites include the Rasta monkey and the neon-lit ’70s psychedelic one adjacent to the bar, and just drunkenly gazing at them could be a fun pastime during breaks from meals, dancing, and conversation.
On to more serious matters, the Drunken Munkey offers an impressive array of oriental food, and a finely curated bar menu with a personalised section of cocktails. We sampled their self-titled signature drink (Rs 399), served with a selection of five different clear spirits, some Old Monk for good measure, and juices and syrups for some flavour. In a phrase – it’s a beast! Three sips had us well under the impression that we could win 'So You Think You Can Dance'. Thankfully, the crushed ice works wonderfully to cut through the potency of the fruity flavour of this Long Island Iced tea - inspired drink.
At this point we decided to add some substance to the evening and started with the Chicken Satay (Rs 259). It was middling at best, offering nothing especially path breaking, although the pickled salad and the just-the-right-amount-of-spicy peanut sauce makes it worthwhile. For the main course, we picked the chef-recommended Chicken Khao Suey (Rs 349), a Burmese noodle broth, served in elaborate, swanky crockery here. A tea light underneath the coconut-based gravy keeps it warm as you ladle one large spoonful at a time into your mouth. At the base of the serving dish, are noodles and a ritzy collection of condiments like burnt garlic, onions and coriander. More than the chicken, the spicy, coconut gravy, the condiments, and the different textural variations with every bite define this dish and made it stand out for us.
The desserts – Homemade pan masala ice cream (Rs 169) and Chocolate spring roll with vanilla ice cream (Rs 199) – were fascinating at the very least. The former has the more familiar flavours of ice cream carefully offset by pan masala and fennel (saunf). Though this was different, we think it’s not for everyone. The chocolate spring roll is quite self-explanatory – hazelnut chocolate in a crisply fried spring roll shell. We’d like to think that if there’s one thing that unites all of us it’s good chocolate (or at least it should be).
With a fun evening behind us, we think the Drunken Munkey has plenty going on for it to have patrons coming back here, mid-week and on weekends.