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Pubs In Delhi Shy Away From Cheap Liquor


This isn’t a dark desert highway. And there might be no warm smell of colitas either. But if you call up the captain, very likely he will say –

we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine! All right, this might sound a bit tipsy but what does one do when popular watering holes in the capital stop serving cheap booze. “Sorry, we don’t have stock of Old Monk,” declared a bartender at Smokehouse Grill, a trendy eatery at Greater Kailash in the capital. “But you can choose from our exotic range of imported alcohol,” he added.

Read expensive. Premium liquor brands and their kin have been given a ringside view in most blue-ribbon gin mills in Delhi, while cheaper brands have been shown the door. Says Sunil Tikoo, group general manager at QBA, a centrally located restaurant and bar in the city: “Nowadays most bars want to cater to high spending customers. By selling only premium brands, the management wants to boost revenues quickly.”

Call it simple maths – lower footfalls and higher margins. Says Mayank Khanna, ex-co-owner of popular nightclub Ministry of Sound: “We buy bottles at discounted rates. Let’s say we buy one for Rs 500 and serve 12 pegs, worth Rs 300 each, from it. So, immediately we make 620% profit.” No wonder, Smokehouse Grill is selling a 30-ml peg of Jack Daniels, a bourbon whisky, for nearly Rs 500. That’s 25 pegs and Rs 12,500 out of one 750-ml bottle – a bottle that costs Rs 2,300 anywhere in the city.

Khanna also adds that some clubs and bars have entered into exclusive pouring rights agreements with liquor brands. “Liquor companies offer marketing funds and free or discounted stocks. For instance, if international artists were coming down they would pay for the airfare and hotel expenses. In return, the bar or club would have to serve the company’s brands. So, the bigger the liquor company’s portfolio, the better it is for the club.”

Hard Rock Café has actually gone ahead and signed contracts with liquor companies. Says Amit Keswani, VP, marketing, JSM Corporation, the exclusive franchise owners for Hard Rock Café in India: “We have exclusive pouring rights agreement with companies such as Bacardi Martini India, Carlsberg and Dewars. But we make sure that the customer has a wide choice. The agreements only ensure good display and exclusivity on certain nights for the brands.”

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Saturday, January 20, 9:08 am

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