Delhi's nightlife is in a constant state of flux, and among the growing set of young people who can afford it, the scene is intense. Various kinds of watering hole are on offer, with the lounge bar emerging as the most successful formula. Though Delhi doesn't rival the cosmopolitan feel of Mumbai, it seems as if a new lounge opens here every week. That said, the city's somewhat stodgy reputation is still partly deserved: All the major hotels have bars, but most are better suited for a collective nap with a few tired foreigners than a night of Indian camaraderie; they still shut by midnight and many nightclubs close not much later, though there are a few all-night venues.

Hotel bars come in two stripes: those that aim for a British Raj look and an older, quieter clientele, or raucous, late-night dance clubs. Due to high taxes on alcohol, especially imported brands, drinks prices come close to those in London and New York. Those in search of late-night dancing and drinking sometimes head for the suburbs or five-star hotels, which can stay open later.

The disco scene has undergone a transformation in recent years. Select places attract top international DJs and charge cover prices to match. Slowly electronic dance music is overtaking drunk renditions of classic rock and Bollywood favorites at most places. Overly casual attire (shorts, T-shirts, sandals on men) is typically frowned on, and closing times tend to vary with the mood of the city government that month.

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  • 1. 1911

    Central Delhi

    The large bar here is a classic watering hole decked out the way it looked in the years leading up to the end of the Raj. The drink menu is massive, and lounge music keeps the vibe contemporary.

    Janpath, Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110001, India
  • 2. Agni

    Central Delhi

    Named for the Vedic fire god, the swanky Agni, in the Park Hotel, attracts Delhi's party crowd, playing electronic interspersed with pop, hip-hop, and Bollywood hits. The door staff can be selective.

    15 Parliament St., Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110001, India
  • 3. Aqua

    Central Delhi

    As the name suggests, Aqua is a giant outdoor space focused on a large swimming pool surrounded with lovely cabanas. It's got a well-heeled, more sedate crowd, especially when compared to its crazy next-door neighbor, Agni.

    15 Parliament St., Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110001, India
  • 4. Blue Frog

    South Delhi

    Blue Frog promises interesting live music from all over the country and internationally almost every night, delivered via a state-of-the-art sound system and accompanied by classy cocktails and snacks. Entry is free before 9 pm on most evenings, except for ticketed events.

    The Kila, 4-A Seven Style Mile, Kalkadass Marg, opp. Qutab Minar, Delhi, National Capital Territory, India

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 5. Golf Bar

    South Delhi

    At the dark and publike Golf Bar, you're sure to hear cheesy pop and rock hits from the '80s onward (think wedding reception). Some nights it's just elderly gentlemen sipping whiskey sodas on leather couches, while other nights you may stumble on a party in full swing.

    Sardar Patel Marg, Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110021, India
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  • 6. Hard Rock Café

    South Delhi

    This venue obviously isn't especially India, but it does sometimes book some interesting bands (call for the weekly performance schedule). If you're homesick for the States, come here for a plate of nachos, washed down with a margarita or two.

    M-110 DLF Place Mall, Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110017, India
  • 7. Keya

    South Delhi | Bars/Pubs

    Chic, chic, chic, and the cocktails are innovative and delicious: street-food-inspired concoctions include the betel-leaf martini and the sour mango mojito. It's one of the new classics in town, with a loyal following.

    DLF Promenade Mall, Nelson Mandela Marg., Vasant Kunj, Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110070, India
  • 8. Polo Lounge

    South Delhi

    While very much a hotel bar, this place can be very lively. The wood-panel room has a curved bar, a leather sofa, a library with newspapers, an oddball collection of books, and sports channels playing on TV. It's known for its collection of vintage single malts and live jazz.

    Ring Rd., Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110066, India
  • 9. Rick's

    Central Delhi

    The booze selection is hard to beat at this magnet for Delhi's beautiful people. It features an extensive whisky selection, accompanied by snacks that are Southeast Asian. Go before 9 pm if you want a seat.

    1 Mansingh Rd., Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110011, India
  • 10. Stone

    South Delhi | Bars/Pubs

    This laid-back lounge with plenty of low-slung couches is where expats head for quiet drinks and conversation over wood-fired pizza.

    Moets Restaurant Complex, 50 Defence Colony Market, Defence Colony, Delhi, National Capital Territory, 110024, India

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