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Imperial Durbar

Bars and pubs, Café bars Tooting
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
 (Iain Weir)
Iain Weir
 (Iain Weir)
Iain Weir

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A cocktail bar in Tooting Bec that seeks to evoke the decadence of Raj-era India.

They say it’s going to be an Indian summer, which should suit the denizens of Imperial Durbar just fine. This cocktail bar in Tooting Bec seeks to evoke the decadence of Raj-era India, when hordes of Britain’s second sons were sent to the colonies only to go doolally. 

The names of the drinks help set the scene: a Flashman’s Ruin is named after author George MacDonald Fraser’s fictitious rogue and poltroon, who was as politically incorrect as greasing cartridges with pork and beef fat. Yet this Flashy’s Ruin went down as willingly as one of the infamous womaniser’s Nautch girls, helped along by Havana rum shaken with puréed mango, lime juice, pineapple juice and cloves (£8).

Ask for a  Prince Albert (£7.50),  and instead of a body piercing you’ll be given an inky-blue drink that might well make you walk bow-legged. The Averna liqueur base in muddled with blackberries, fresh lime and soda water, making the strong drink refreshingly fruity and putting a spring back in your step. 

Though no screened palace, this Durbar is divided into a few discreet areas with vaguely Indian décor, and does the job if you’re after privacy. The bar food includes modern creations such as chicken tikka masala, but if you hunger for more authentic tastes of the subcontinent, Tooting’s many excellent Indian cafés and restaurants start a mere ten minutes’ walk away. Save the Imperial Durbar for off-duty sharpeners before or after dining; puttees and pith helmets may be left with your driver. 


Address: 14 Trinity Rd
SW17 7RE
Transport: Tube: Tooting Bec
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Users say (4)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

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A trip to The Imperial Durbar in tooting takes you on a journey much further afield than South London, to the ancient trading docks in India.

The décor – in fitting with the Durbar’s theme – is a host of wooden room dividers, nautical trinkets and elegant sofas that look as though they’ve been shipped from straight outside the Taj Mahal. Ideal for large bookings and parties, The Imperial Durbar is an ideal venue for any alternative Christmas parties.

By day the Imperial Durbar acts as an artisan bistro serving coffee, cakes and teas – including their own Masala Chai tea for those that fancy a truly aromatic brew – yet come 5 o’clock, the Tooting hideaway transforms into an energetic mix of bohemian cocktails and Indian style home cooked comfort food.

Lead by a team of creative mixologists, the extensive cocktail menu produces a range of excellent drinks but it’s their gin selection that impresses, with a collection of botanicals mapped around the old Empire’s trading routes. Each G&T is served in a giant Maharajah sized glass with accompanying tonic.

However, what makes an evening at the Durbar special is the relationship the bar has maintained with the Cardamom kitchen two-doors down. Heading to the vintage telephone booth at the back of the bar with instructions to dial 9, the direct line is picked up by the Cardamom Kitchen who offer a selection of authentic Indian dishes and will bring these straight to your table in Tiffin tins. The menu offers a variety of curries, the most notable of which was the king prawn shahi which was creamy and perfectly seasoned with a generous serving of king prawns and the saag paneer – packed with spinach, this had to be my favourite.

Thanks to the attentive and welcoming nature of the staff, our evening was one of nautical merriment, flavoursome food and excellent gin cocktails.

Be prepared to be transported into a different era set in colonial India. Imperial Durbar is an absolute gem hidden away in Tooting. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The cocktails are 3 shots strong and will definitely help to get your evening started (totally worth the money). The decor inside has been split into different rooms all set to look like something from Colonial India.

The bar prides itself on their gin selection and if you’re an avid fan of gin then this is your go to!

The bar itself is only a bar but you can order food in from next door using a Vintage phone from the phone box.

We ordered a selection of curries and starters which were all very delicious and arrived in traditional tiffin boxes. The food wasn’t the most incredible Indian food I’ve had but it married well with the cocktails and the experience.

Overall The Imperial Durbar was brilliant and definitely worth a trip over. They also cater to big group booking if you’re ever planning a party!

What are you waiting for - go get yourself one of their gin cocktails!

Having been in for a quick chai and returning for after work drinks, this is a little gem of a place in the heart of Tooting.  The attention to detail for the Indian decor is impressive and unique which really stands out.  They have different drinks areas, one of which is a curtained area with the Taj Mahal I have yet to try out, however it can get quite crowded at weekends as it is quite small in general.  The happy hour is also excellent for go to place in Tooting perfect for a quirky date night!


Im writing this with a bit of a hangover, so apologies now for any grammastical and/or spelling errors. I checked out the durbar last night - I had heard good things about it. I was really impressed, the staff are genuinely friendly and upbeat. The cocktails are damn strong and I did really like the decor - a few different sections to sit in and the colonial Indian-esque theme is artfully done. Ordering food is quite unique - you have to phone through your order from a phone, towards the back. I guess like phoning down to the kitchens - only you are ringing up the take-away next door. The tikka masala was fair - I think my state of inebriation means I could have been chewing on some of the table and still found it pretty damn tasty. All in all - it's a nice addition to Tooting - and goes up there with other decent bars like the Antelope and the Tram and Social. Worth checking out - but I think there are better places to get chow from - if you can still walk after supping down their lethal beverages. Happy hour is on 5-8pm Sunday - Thursday so a pre-dinner tipple is easy on the pocket too.

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