If you're wandering around Fort, chances are you've noticed that big wooden sign hanging beside Hotel Nippon: 'Dream Land Bar. Aircondition'. It's a good sign, succinctly conveying the two main features of the establishment: one, there's a bar; two, it's airconditioned. 'Aircondition' and arrack, what more could you want on a hot island evening?
Dream Land is in Slave Island, a part of and adjacent to Hotel Nippon. It sits quite comfortably at the upper end of Colombo's dodgy bars. Actually, it's not even that dodgy. It's rather a nice place, venuewise on a par with White Horse
on Nawam Mawatha.
It's essentially one big room with a bar at the end and the seating consists of low chairs and tables, arranged in almost coffee shop fashion. The walls have a nice cut cement finish, giving the place a more polished, upmarket look.
We haven't visited this bar when it's been crowded, so we're not sure how dodgy it could potentially get, but when it's quiet, it's really quite nice. The staff are sweet, and refreshingly unperturbed by a woman - on other dodgy bar visits the presence of women has proven a source of keen bewilderment to both staff and patrons.
We didn't explore the food menu, but they serve the standard arrack accompaniments: devilled chicken (all medium portions, pork/beef/chicken/prawn/fish cost Rs. 250), fries (Rs 250), sandwiches (Rs. 220 to 250)., etc. The prices here are good. You can have a gin (25ml) and tonic for just Rs. 125, with plenty of tonic left over to mix a couple more drinks. Obviously you won't be getting Hendrick's or Bombay, but hey, it's cheap. Far cheaper than White Horse, whose prices have really skyrocketed from back in the day.
All mixers at Dream Land cost Rs. 60, except soda which is Rs. 35. Beers are the most expensive, costing Rs. 200 and above. But if you want an arrack and soda or cheap gin and tonic you'll definitely be able to drink a fair amount for below Rs. 1000.
We really like Dream Land. It's a good place, and it manages to be cheap without being too dodgy. That's not a bad balance to strike.