As you make your way through the timeworn vintage-hued Metro Gully of Kolkata’s Esplanade, you will find a building with the hoarding Shaw Brothers, strikingly standing with its old-world charm. Since the colonial era, nothing much has changed about the place. Still today, it remains jampacked with men from all classes, despite its unadorned, fuss-free and mundane decor. The voices are always loud here, and the drinks always cheap, and within this chaos, avid drinkers find comfort.
A Man’s World In The Dingy Alley
Shaw Brothers, established in 1872, is known to be the oldest bar in Kolkata. It is also popularly called Chhota Bristol, the name derived from the once existing nearby Bristol Hotel. Over the decades, it has served tired college students, office goers and even many noteworthy personalities like filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. One has to be at luck to get a chair at Shaw Brothers without standing in the queue, especially during peak hours. The bar is always that crowded. It remains closed for entry from 6-6:15 PM every day for puja purposes. Except for that, it serves men till 10 PM, and women aren’t allowed here. Earlier, smoking was also permitted inside but is now banned due to government restrictions. As an alternative, cigarettes of different kinds are available right outside the bar.
Nothing Remains Waiting: The Instant Give And Take Policy
Even the ordering process is unique here. The waiter would come to the table and the customer needs to order the drink by paying then and there. The waiter will return to the table with the drink and the change. And there are some waiters who bring the food following the same process. The food, mostly brought from the old lane, includes humble peanuts, potato chips, mutton fries, chanachur, bhujias and more, which go perfectly with the drinks.
So, if you’re a guy visiting Kolkata for work, leisure or any other purpose, Shaw Brothers needs to be on your bucket list, to experience a piece of life that’s raw, flamboyant and tipsy.