Luxury design studio Bergman Design House, which was founded by husband-and-wife duo Albin Berglund and Marie Soliman, will be launching their latest project – a new speakeasy bar in the heart of Vancouver – on 10th January 2023.
The new bar, called ‘Bagheera’, named after the fictional black panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, drew its inspiration from the cultural crossroads of co-owners Lewis Hart and Brij Rathi, both of whom have extensive roots in India, and will pay homage to the adventurous spirit of the Indian subcontinent at the turn of the 20th Century.
The bar’s entrance is concealed behind a Chinatown betting shop, and will be serving experimental cocktails, light bites and sharing plates in a train cabin with the aim of transporting patrons back in time to the flâneur era, where you will be greeted with a sumptuous 60-seat main cocktail lounge in hues of gold, deep red, teal and imperial purple.
The focal point is undoubtedly the 42-foot bar clad in a hand-carved, reclaimed teak frontage with an illuminated bar top and a backsplash of polished tiger blue onyx. And you can’t miss the bespoke, 45-foot, hand-painted jungle mural spanning the entire north wall across from the bar which leads to the semi-private Drawing Room. In here you will find real bohemian curios in bronze and brass, which reside in a softly lit “Cabinet of Curiosities” that also houses some of the bar’s harder-to-find and rare whiskeys. There are also some rather cheeky overpaints by internationally renowned “hacker” artist, Blase, who playfully superimposes modern commercialism onto period Gothic canvases.
As Marie Soliman explains:
“The main space was inspired by the majestic train cars of the era and glitters with over 1,000 antique coins and bangles we sourced from the bazaars of Delhi and Jaipur, with the help of Delhi-based décor brand, Rosie Dahlia. The effect is quite spectacular.”
Part of the ‘Bagheera experience’ is finding the entrance, which is tucked away in the Happy Valley Turf Club betting shop at 518 Main Street. But before you can enter the bar, you need to utter the magic password and place a wager on ‘King Louie’. You will then enter a vestibule papered with original postcards from late 1800s and early 1900s India, before beginning your memorable journey into the speakeasy itself, which you could say is a true ‘passage to India’ itself.
As well as serving a great range of cocktails, Bagheera will also be serving subcontinental cuisine by Phong Vo (Laowai) with a pakora menu offering a variety of meat, seafood, vegetarian and vegan fillings as well as a mouth-watering selection of sharing plates such as Carrot Daal, Saag Aloo Pave, Goan Tamarind Fish Curry and Coconut Lamb Koftas.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Bergman Design House