The Agave Bar At Aasmana Brings An Elevated Tequila And Mezcal Experience To Pune

Savour meticulously crafted agave cocktails in the newly opened rooftop lounge and bar at The Ritz-Carlton Pune.

Published On Feb 28, 2024 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


Towering over the city, Aasmana on the 18th floor of The Ritz-Carlton Pune offers panoramic views of the busy metropolis and its surrounding countryside. As the sun sets and the twinkling lights come on down below, it’s time to partake of the lounge-bar’s latest offering. There’s no doubt that tequila and mezcal are very much “in” — both internationally and in India — so the Agave Bar at Aasmana opens at an opportune time. It’s the first of its kind in Pune, a stylish new space designed to showcase the depth of flavours inherent in the spirit-of-the-moment. 

The Red Room

Take the elevator to the 18th floor to arrive at Aasmana, a series of lounge and outdoor spaces functioning around a centrally located bar. A long passageway decorated from floor to ceiling with Indian stone motifs takes you right up to the newly opened Agave Bar, an elegant, polished space that showcases a huge collection of tequila and mezcal. Other spaces within Aasmana sport an east-meets-west aesthetic that combines cultural influences from Pune’s vernacular tradition with colonial adaptations. Adjacent to the Agave Bar is the Red Room, a lounge that’s created to complement the bar. The stunning space is decked out in warm wood with muted gold and copper accents that contrast with the plush red velvet and leatherette seating. The vibe is slightly masculine, but the colours and materials give it a maximalist boudoir-like feel. The walls are lined with objets d’art while large windows overlook the cityscape. 


Agave story 

Tequila Sommelier Saurabh Raje welcomes us to the lounge, regaling us with the various tequila and mezcal brands on offer at the bar. “We have 39 varieties of tequila and mezcal, including the Clase Azul Tequila Añejo,” he says. The latter is an ultra-premium tequila (retailing at INR 13.5 lakh) that comes in a distinctive bottle which is hand-moulded and decorated by indigenous Mazahua Indians; each piece is signed by the master tequilero and the artisan creator.  

We also get a crash course in the spirit, which is distilled from the piñas (heart) of the blue weber agave, a spiky succulent from central Mexico. Incidentally, contrary to popular belief, agave is not cactus! According to Mexican law, tequila can only be produced within five states: Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. The spirit must also include a minimum of 51 per cent blue agave. Tequila is divided into five classifications depending on how much time it is aged — blanco, joven, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. Blanco tequila is typically unaged although some variants can be aged for up to two months. Joven (Spanish for young) is a blend of blanco with a small amount of aged tequila, while reposado tequila is aged between two months and up to one year in steel or oak casks. Añejo tequila must be aged between one and three years while extra añejo tequila (a newer class that was added in 2006) must be barrel-aged for a minimum of three years. So what’s the difference between tequila and mezcal? The latter is also an agave spirit but while tequila can only be made from blue weber agave and only in the aforementioned Mexican states, mezcal can use any kind of agave plant and can be produced elsewhere. The simplest way to think about it is all tequila is mezcal but not all mezcal is tequila. 

The Penca 

Instead of the menu, Raje presents us with a large wooden box that tells the agave story across seven panels — from Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle who is known as the father of tequila to tahona, a large, heavy stone wheel that’s traditionally used to crush agave. Upon opening each panel, we find a vial of flavoured salt, ranging from kaffir and thyme to paprika. “We offer these to rim the glass to enhance the flavour of tequila. They can also be used (instead of regular salt) for cocktails such as Margarita and Paloma if requested by the guest,” explains Raje. 

The Platanitos

While you can sip tequila and mezcal straight-up or order one of the classic cocktails, the real star of the show at Agave Bar is their curated menu of six cocktails that are designed to present agave’s versatility. Each cocktail is named after various parts of the agave plant, so you have Penca named after the spiky leaf — this milk-clarified cocktail contains tequila, grated coconut, tonka beans, and ginger, and is the perfect way to ease into the evening. 

The Semillas

Semillas references the seeds of agave and is a refreshing concoction of tequila, absinthe, cucumber syrup, lime juice, basil, and cardamom. Other cocktails on the menu include Quiote (main stem) with mezcal and passion fruit, Platanitos (middle stem) with tequila, vermouth, and sherry, and Cacyas (top flower) with tequila, aperol, grapefruit, etc. But my favourite cocktail of the evening is Floras (named after the middle flower), which is a layered drink featuring chocolate-infused mezcal, orange bitters, and Chantilly. 

Food-wise, the lounge offers a short menu of Mexican-inspired Indian bar bites such as chatpata corn on the cob, guacamole chaat, and Poblano Prawn Koliwada. There’s no main course on offer in the lounge, but you can move to Aasmana’s restaurant — here, I would highly recommend the BBQ tamarind lamb chop that’s finger-licking delicious. With the Agave Bar at Aasmana, Pune gets an exclusive introduction to tequila and mezcal craftsmanship.

Address: Agave Bar at Aasmana, The Ritz-Carlton Pune, Golf Course Square, Airport Road, Yerwada, Pune

Timing: 6pm onwards (open Friday to Sunday)

Meal for two: INR 4,000 (with alcohol)

Photo: Featured Brand; Prachi Joshi