Most party regulars will attest to this: Around the midnight hour, many city pubs and clubs seem to mysteriously run out of domestic alcohol. The result? Customers are forced to fork out exorbitant amounts for imported liquor, or cut their night short.
Beverages writer Bhisham Mansukhani says, “I’ve been to bars like Hard Rock and Shiro that suspiciously run out of the most popular Indian brand, but always have imported beers. And the explanations offered were rubbish.”
Hospitality professional-turned-marketing executive Anupam Sehgal adds, “Clubs like Blue Frog often promote only one kind of alcohol subtly to support their tie-ups. I’m a vodka drinker and even if I ask for a local brand that is on the menu, I’m told that they only serve foreign varieties. This usually raises the price of my drink from around Rs. 500 to more than Rs. 1,500.”
Industry experts admit that unlike two years ago, when most people were upgrading their Kingfisher for Corona, steep rates and high taxes are forcing a reverse in the trend. And since cops are forcing nightspots to shut their bars even earlier, owners have a small window of time to make money. To make the most of the
situation, they resort to selling only expensive foreign liquor.
At popular mid-town pub Canvas, ordering gin and tonic will result in you being served a Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray, even though a bottle of the domestic brand Blue Riband rests on the bar.
“We use Indian gin only for cocktails, because if we used foreign liquor, it would make the drink too expensive. But we wouldn’t serve it otherwise, and it’s not even on the menu,” explains general manager Amit Mayekar, insisting that it’s the client who benefits in this situation. He adds, “We ran out of domestic beers over the last two weekends because we were packed. But we’ve increased our stocks for next week.”
Blue Frog representative Tina Kapur says, “I’m frankly surprised that people have such complaints. But they could write in to firstname.lastname@example.org, which we check everyday and alert the departments responsible to any complaints.”