The all-new L-4D license is finally a reality. Starting next week, restaurants in the city can apply for a license to serve soft liquor without having to shell out a bomb. That means even smaller joints, including your favourite cafes and fast food spots, can offer beer and wine on their menus.
L-4D is a decidedly dull moniker for something that is set to herald so many exciting changes! Think about it. Soon, no one will bat an eyelid if you tell them you are hopping over to your neighbourhood café for a glass of wine, or if your side order for a pepperoni pizza includes a pint of chilled lager. That’s a huge leap for a city where excise laws have been stringent since the days of the Raj.
With wine being served at so many accessible eating spots, many more taste buds will get the chance to appreciate the drink. That is a sureshot way of stoking the Capital's evolving wine drinking culture to a new level altogether. I am concerned on two counts, however.
The first is an underlying fear that this might lead to an increase in drink driving incidents. It’s probably unwarranted, because if you look at figures in the US and Europe, it’s binging on hard liquor that is at the root of the majority of DUI cases. The second is a more legitimate fear - that once the Games get over, applications for the L-4D will lie rotting for months before they are cleared by excise officials. Getting a liquor license is one of the biggest hurdles restaurateurs and bar owners have to face today, with many I know having had to wait for months before they received it. It will be quite tragic if the current flurry of activity and talks of grand things fizzle out post-October, taking the city back to square one.
After all, liquor permits do not a world-class city make, but lack of red tape goes a long way in achieving that coveted status. Whether Delhi achieves its goal of being a world class city or not remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure- it is definitely set to become a much more fun city.