Incense floats through the air bringing with it a heady blend of spices and floral scents leaving white smoke trails in the air.
It’s intoxicating and quite befitting as you descend the staircase at Dishoom, heading downstairs to The Permit Room hidden beneath.
Stepping into the Permit Room is like a step back in time. It’s old worldly and genuinely is one of the best bars in Edinburgh where you can escape the hustle and bustle; where you can grab a seat and just relax. The atmosphere wraps its arms around you like a great big hug.
The decor is quite dark with lots of dark heavy shiny wood, dark wooden panels and a bar wall filled with vials and delightful bottles of tipples. The bar is open until 3am and is definitely a cocktail destination.
We went along to indulge in the cocktail scene and were treated some truly superb cocktails.
First up was Sonia’s Negroni and a firm favourite of our waiter. Named after Sonia Gandhi, an Indian Politician of Italian descent. This lovely amber number is potent however but if you are a fan of negroni’s then this will definitely top your list. It’s make with equal parts of London Dry Gin, bitter Campari and Dishoom vermouth (macerated with vanilla, cinnamon
and ginger). Bottle-aged for smooth, tawny intensity.
I tried the Colaba Colada. A slush puppy that will give you a delightful brain freeze. Pineapple
and coconut-cream classic with a Bombay twist: a little coriander, chai syrup, lime juice and dark rum. Loved the slithers of fresh coconut ontop.
My cocktail partner was enjoying the negroni’s so much that the next cocktail was done negroni style. The IPA PAANCH. Dishoom hop-infused gin steeped with lime, black tea,
jaggery and spices, with a dash of Ardbeg for the taste.
I opted for the Pila House Sling. This will pull your cheeks together and send your tastebuds on a wee rollercoaster ride. Almost bitter, quite tangy but you’ll defo keep sipping. Refreshing pineapple and reserve bourbon with orange and lemon sharbat foam. A defo Instagram moment!
It was time for the taste test. Spot the alcoholic from the non-alcoholic. Two drinks, essentially Espresso Martinis. Both looked very similar, one with a sprinkle of chilli.
Could it be this one – Number 1?
Could it be this one – Number 2?
Number 1 is the Sober Martini – the copy tipple; the mocktail; the non-alcoholic one! 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 was my favourite out of the two.
Number 2 is the Monsoon Martini – the cocktail, the alcoholic one! Dishoom’s Monsooned Malabar espresso, vivified with Black Cow Vodka, chilli liqueur, black walnut bitters and
crema. And luckily my cocktail partner in crime preferred this one! Note of warning on this – definitely sip from the non chilli sprinkled side (my lips were on fire for about half an hour but then I am quite pathetic with is comes to anything with a bit of heat!).
We also enjoyed some nibbles. The Dal Moth of fried lentils, spices and nuts and Potato Crisps sprinkled with magic masala and served with lime.
The Permit Rooms is charming and brings a strange sense of unknown nostalgia, you kind of just hanker for a time when life was just a little more simple.
Cocktails, copy tipples, slings, coolers, fizzes, sours and fancies are all things you’ll find down here. It’s well worth a visit or five.
The Permit Room, performing only beneath Dishoom, St Andrews Square, Edinburgh www.dishoom.com/permitroom
My Spoon Award : Gold 9/10