The Campari Group recently launched its popular fusion liqueur ‘X-Rated’ in the Indian market. Known for its unique bottle shape, bold pink liquid, sweet and delicious flavour; it is one of the fastest growing flavoured spirits in Asia. Famous among young, trend-seeking females as one of the finest celebratory drink, X-Rated is made with ultra-premium vodka sourced from Champagne and Ardennes regions of France.
It is an exotic blend of ultra-premium French vodka, blood oranges from Sicily in Italy and fused with tropical mango and passion fruit juice sourced from Brazil for a unique taste experience. The tropical fruit flavour with edgy citrus notes gives a long, smooth and semi- sweet finish.
On the occasion of the launch, Daniel Schwalb, Managing Director South East Asia and India for the Campari Group, says, “We are excited to expand our India portfolio with the launch of our globally successful fusion liqueur brand, X-Rated. A perfect blend of ultra-premium French vodka and tropical fruit, X -Rated is expected to become the preferred liqueur choice, especially for the discerning women consumers in this country.”
Arnab Ghosh, Marketing Director, Campari India also shares his excitement for the launch, “We are ecstatic to debut X-Rated in the Indian market. With this launch, we are looking forward to establishing a strong foot hold in a segment of the market which finds a strong resonance with the millennial consumer.”
This unique, bright-pink liqueur is well positioned to lead the growing cocktail appreciation trend in the country. It is best enjoyed over ice, on the rocks, or as a flavourful, colourful addition to champagne or a delicious cocktail.
X-Rated is a premium liqueur made with high quality ultra-premium vodka and tropical fruit juices. The liquid is made of 100% ultra-premium French vodka from Champagne and Ardennes. The mouth coating flavour is based on blood orange from Sicily in Italy and tropical mango and passion fruits juice from Brazil. The fusion liqueur is made with 100% pure organic fruit juices which is fused with ultra-premium French vodka in a secret process and is available in 750 ML and is 17% ABV.
The Gin Masters is an annual judging of gin that is conducted by the Global Spirits Masters Competition. The annual series, conducted in partnership with The Spirits Business, consists of a series of blind-tasting evaluations that cover the beverage industry’s main spirit categories.
In this annual awards, DOJA has won silver and is among the top 46 gins selected amongst 1000s. The Super premium category lists brands that are priced between £21 to £35. This is DOJA’s first award and has come in less than one year of their launch.
Started by Jai Anand, DOJA is an amalgamation of botanicals from the rich lands of India and Japan’s Wakayama prefecture. He worked along with a distillery in Japan who brought to life a recipe that gives the taste of two cultures in a sip. Japan is known for immaculate craftsmanship, perfectionism, and attention to detail that reflects not only in its food and culture, but is also translated into the unique flavours of its alcohol. What makes DOJA unique is the use of Yuzu, sansho peppers, hinoki that is combined with coriander, pepper, and cardamom from India. These botanicals lend a citrus note.
DOJA is a sip and drink format beverage and is recommended to be had on the rocks or water. DOJA has begun its distribution in Goa and Mumbai. It is priced at `2050 in Goa and `3700 in Mumbai.
United Breweries, the country’s largest beer manufacturer and part of the Amsterdam-based Heineken group recently announced the launch of Heineken Silver, a smooth and refreshing beer that provides Indian consumers with a premium beverage that is truly designed for everyday social occasions.
Heineken Silver is brewed by seasoned master brewers using natural ingredients, including Heineken’s famous A-yeast and quality pure malt.
Rishi Pardal, Managing Director, United Breweries Limited, said, “Guided by our purpose of brewing the joy of true togetherness to inspire a better world, we are always looking to bring products to the market that match the needs of our consumers and keep up with ever-changing taste preferences across generations. We see modern consumers seeking beverages that are light, easy-to-drink and fit in well with their social occasions and Heineken Silver is perfectly designed for these moments. We are confident that the smooth and refreshing Heineken Silver will herald a new era of premiumisation in the Indian beer market.”
Rajeev Sathyesh, Asia-Pacific Director, Brand – Heineken, said, “We are excited to launch this new member of the Heineken family, Heineken Silver, in India. This delightfully refreshing, smooth and easy-to-drink lager has received a lot of love in our other markets globally. We are confident that it will also appeal to the new generation of beer drinkers in India. Heineken Silver is brewed as an all-round crowd pleaser and the perfect partner to celebrate authentic moments of joy.”
Heineken Silver is available in both on- and off-trade retail channels in Bengaluru. Heineken Silver’s 330-ml pint is priced at `120, the 500-ml can at `160 and the 650-ml bottle at `200 across off-trade retail outlets in Bengaluru. The beer comes in a sleek silver can and the iconic green bottle. Heineken Silver will also be launched in other markets very soon.
Heineken Silver has a smooth and refreshing taste, retaining the signature fruity aroma of Heineken Original with a balanced, though slightly lower bitterness.
With Delhi showing the way will Mumbai follow suit. Perhaps the commercial capital of India will want the city to mix business with pleasure. Additional taxes will help boost the government finances.
The Delhi government has granted permission to all pubs and restaurants serving liquor to stay open till 3am — a move aimed at elevating the Capital’s nightlife, which could help revive the hospitality industry that is still reeling from the pandemic, and increasing employment opportunities.
A formal order is likely to be issued soon, people familiar with the matter said, adding that the government is coordinating with Delhi Police and other agencies for the safe implementation of the new timings. Most pubs and restaurants, barring some exceptions, are currently allowed to stay open till 1am.
Though Delhi’s new excise policy was implemented on November 17, 2021, the change in operating hours will not kick in until a specific order is issued. Though Delhi’s new excise policy was implemented on November 17, 2021, the change in operating hours will not kick in until a specific order is issued.
The Delhi government has granted permission to all pubs and restaurants serving liquor to stay open till 3 am — a move aimed at elevating the Capital’s nightlife, giving a shot in the arm to the hospitality industry that is still reeling from the pandemic, and increasing employment opportunities.
Zorawar Kalra, MD, Massive Restaurants says that it will have a huge positive impact on the entire industry and the economy of the city as all stakeholders will benefit.
The government benefits due to added tax and excise collections. The employees benefit due to added shifts requiring additional people. The customers benefit as they get vibrant nightlife and the freedom to dine at whatever time they choose. And the industry benefits due to the potential of added revenue.
Abhinav Jindal, CEO & Founder, Kimaya Himalayan Beverages had this to say “Delhi Government’s recent announcement for restaurants and bars to remain open till 3 am is an appreciated move showcasing Delhi as a progressive city on the world map. We welcome this decision as a part of the industry.
This cosmopolitan city will allow people to enjoy themselves at their convenience without rushing due to time restrictions. Moreover, it will not only encourage and provide ease of doing business in the city, but will also add up to the revenues of the hard-hit HORECA industry which sees newer opportunities after two years of the pandemic.
In addition to this, this will also help us all promote responsible drinking among consumers. They will not be under the pressure of finishing drinks, rather enabling them to enjoy for longer hours and responsibly. Further enhancing experience for consumers and industry. Look forward to witnessing this positive change in Delhi’s nightlife!”
In an official government note, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who holds the excise portfolio, asked the department recently to extend the closing time of restaurants, and to ensure that no establishment is subjected to harassment if it stays open till 3am.
“As part of our policy of ease of doing business and also to bring some cultural and nightlife activity in the national capital, which will further enhance the employment opportunity of our people, the Delhi government approved the New Excise Policy in November 2021 allowing the operating timings of restaurants up to 3am in consonance with the operational timings of NCR cities including Gurugram and Noida. The final implementation is being coordinated with the other agencies including Delhi Police,” read the file noting signed by Manish Sisodia.
“In the meantime, the excise department of Delhi, for all practical purposes, [is] to consider the closing time of restaurants as 3am, and no restaurant will be subject to any harassment on account of operation up to 3am,” the note added.
Among NCR cities, Gurugram allowed pubs to remain open 24×7 while in Noida, pubs can operate till 2am. In Gurugram, pubs were allowed to allowed to open till 6 am last year but the new policy announced by the Haryana government allows such outlets to remain open 24×7. In Noida, since April 2019, all pubs can operate till 1am and this can be extended to 2 am for a fee.
Though Delhi’s new excise policy was implemented on November 17, 2021, the change in operating hours will not kick in until a specific order is issued. For example, another key change in the policy — lowering the drinking age from 25 to 21 — is yet to be implemented because the Delhi government is yet to amend the Delhi Excise Act.
While Delhi Police has not issued an official response, a senior officer said they were not aware of any such order yet. “The Delhi government has not consulted with the Delhi Police while issuing the said order. When the order was notified, the Delhi Police had raised concerns related to law and order, traffic disorder, as well as safety and security of citizens, especially women,” said a senior officer, who is aware of the matter.
There have been demands to extend the operating hours since the excise policy was implemented last November, and a group of representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India met Sisodia recently to urge the government to push the change through.
“Restaurants have already paid the excise fee as per the new policy, but continue to be restricted to the old operating timings – leading to huge business losses in this critical recovery phase for the industry. Non-implementation of this most important change is putting the industry into much deeper distress than before. This will surely negate the gains that are expected from the reforms undertaken by the Delhi government,” said the NRAI representation submitted to Sisodia.
According to Rahul Singh, trustee of NRAI, restaurants not serving liquor in Delhi are allowed to operate 24 hours if they so choose, but restaurants serving liquor operate with an L-17 licence, which only permits the service of liquor in independent restaurants till 1 am.
To be sure, the 24-hour service of liquor is allowed in restaurants inside five-star hotels, and those located in the arrival or departure terminals of IGI airport.
Restaurants serving liquor in Delhi need multiple licences from different agencies to operate in Delhi, but only the excise and police licences specify timing restrictions. The health, and shop and establishment licences given by the municipal corporations, the food safety licence given by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, and the fire licence given by Delhi Fire Services, don’t have any timing specifications.
Restaurateurs welcomed the Delhi government’s move
“Delhi is truly a world city, the capital of our nation, and the most visited city too. Tourists as well as the residents truly deserve a global experience. With longer office working hours and the commute, there is always a paucity of time for patrons to have a relaxed evening. Extending service of liquor in a restaurant will provide relief from binge drinking. This will increase jobs in the hospitality sector, and more revenues to the city’s exchequer. While some will question the law-and-order aspects, one has to realise that when there are people on the street and the city is vibrant, there is less crime. Look at examples of global cities and even our own airports, railway stations which operate 24/7,” NRAI’s Rahul Singh said.
Sanjeev Mehra, president of Khan Market Traders’ Association, however, cautioned against the move. “It will also not lead to any increase in business for many of the regular traders and shop owners. But the move will definitely put additional burden on Delhi Police, which is already overburdened, and may lead to increase in law-and-order issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP slammed the Delhi government’s move. “The new excise policy is going to destroy the future of Delhi’s youth. Permitting restaurants to serve liquor till 3am is nothing but promoting use of alcohol among people. It may also lead to law-and-order situation in the capital,” said Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, leader of opposition in Delhi assembly. Delhi satellites Noida and Gurugram come under Uttar Pradesh and Haryana respectively, and both states are ruled by the BJP.
The newly formed Punjab government of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is contemplating upon allotting liquor vends through a tender system in its bid to shore up revenues from excise. However, the traders are not open to this idea and want continuation of draw of lots. In Delhi where AAP has been ruling the new excise policy has been welcomed not just by the industry, but also consumers. The Minister of Finance, Harpal Singh Cheema has directed officials to study excise policies of other states and plans to roll out the policy soon. Punjab is likely to pick up inputs from Delhi and other states before it announces a new excise policy for 2022-23 sometime in June to be effective from July 1. The excise department has already initiated informal discussions with the trade to understand their requirements while boosting the exchequer.
Like many states, Punjab’s major source of revenue is from excise. It has estimated the revenues for the current financial year at ₹7,002 crores, with an increase of 20% from ₹5,794 crores of 2020-21. According to media reports, the excise department has already achieved the revenue target for 2021-22.
In end March, the AAP government renewed the 2021-22 policy for a period of three months to those existing licensees who will give 1.75% excess revenue over minimum guaranteed revenue (MGR) of financial year 2021-22 for their respective groups and zones in order to maintain stability in the liquor trade. The minimum guaranteed revenue of groups and zones is estimated at ₹1,440.96 crores for this three month window and the revenue target is expected to be ₹1,910 crores.
The MGQ of Punjab made liquor (PML) called desi, Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL), beer and imported foreign liquor (IFL) of each group and zone has been increased by 10% of the corresponding first quarter of last financial year of the respective group and zone. Further, to allow retail licensees to lift liquor as per their requirement, the amount of additional fixed license fee has also been increased. The ratio of fixed and open quota of PML shall be 30:70 as was prevalent during financial year 2021-22.
It may be mentioned here that the government of Capt. Amarinder Singh had allotted vends through a draw of lots till 2019-20 and in the last two years it extended the trade licenses of those who guaranteed generating 12% excess revenue over the fixed minimum guaranteed revenue. It is learnt that the government is planning to increase the reserve price and license fee of liquor vends and also to increase the size of the group up to ₹20 crore, having 7 to 10 vends.
The government is on a mission mode to fill the coffers. The Finance Minister is on record stating that despite high liquor consumption in the state, it has been able to generate enough for the exchequer. “This is our mission now. We have to fill the coffers.” While lauding the Delhi excise policy, the Minister talked about basic difference between liquor consumers in Delhi and Punjab. “While Delhi consumes Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), Punjabis consume Punjab Medium Liquor (PML). We will have to work out our policy taking into consideration all these points.”
AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal had stated during the run up to the election that the AAP government would look at liquor and sand for generating funds.
The Indian beer market was valued at approximately 371 billion in 2020, with projections estimated at around 662 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 9.2% from 2022 to 2027. This impressive growth rate is a factor of changing consumption trends and the evolving tastes of India’s growing urban population. To keep up, manufacturers of brands must continue to evolve and push the boundaries in their efforts to deliver beer products that are acceptable and enduring.
At the heart of the beer revolution in India is Bira 91’s Ankur Jain. When he decided to establish a unique, local Indian brewery in 2015, it wasn’t necessarily to rival the more established brands like Kingfisher, or the more global varieties like Heineken and Carlsberg, but to simply create a space where beer is worth drinking and one that represents the vibrancy, strength, and spirit of the Indian people and heritage.
“I sold my healthcare start-up in 2007 and decided to move back to India. It dawned on me at the time that there was simply no beer worth drinking. We lacked frothy and heavy beers and I only wanted to solve the problem. We began by importing craft beers from Brooklyn and sold them in India. These were Brooklyn-brewed brands like Duvel, Chimay, and so on,” he says. The reception was good, but Jain knew there was so much more to be done if the desire was to bring quality brews to India.
Himself a late beer bloomer, Jain was more of a malt and wine guy in the early years of adult life. After he moved to Brooklyn to set up his health start-up and occupied an office next to an iconic brewery, the beer fever caught up with him. Today, he’s become a beer fanatic after many years of sampling new brands and flavours. He believes everyone just needs that first taste of awesomeness to fall in love, and that’s what Bira 91 set out to do.
Jain’s dive into the world of beers wasn’t without some hiccups and opposition, even among members of his family. His father, a respected retired architect who was in the Central Public Works Department for 35 years, wasn’t exactly excited about his son’s new found love. But that, perhaps, was the kind of drive Jain needed to succeed. He says not speaking properly to his father for almost five years gave him room and the freedom to properly explore his imagination and craft.
In its first year of operation, Bira was brewed in Belgium’s Flander’s region before production was moved to India for its #MadeInIndia journey. A couple of seed funding and angel investments later – from entities like Sequoia Capital, Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal, and Deepinder Goyal of Zomato – and Bira 91 was on its way to transform the Indian beer ecosystem with an “Imagined in India” craft beer.
Growth and trajectory
Bira 91 has been in business for almost seven years and has, within the period, grown exponentially with unique tastes and offerings. The brand has created a niche for itself and scaled up its market share and revenues beyond expectation. “Blonde and White were our first two variants. In 2017, we did a lot of research and created two additional variants, Strong and Lite. We’ve consistently recorded 150% CAGR annually from 2016 to 2021, and tripled our market share between 2019 and 2021,” says Jain.
Under the “Imagined in India” portfolio, four new limited beers were recently released, namely Bollywood IPA, Kokum Sour, Brown Ale, and Mango Lassi. “The Bollywood IPA variant is a total blockbuster. It is loud, flavourful, and vibrant with a tropical twist, inspired by West Coast IPAs that were born in California. Then we have Kokum Sour which complements the Indian summer by combining the traditional ingredient from the Konkan Coast and the affinity of the Indian palette towards sour flavours and the best sour beers of the world.
“Next is Brown Ale, which is a blend of English Nut Brown Ale and the Antwerpian Amber with strong notes of coconut and vanilla, and finally Mango Lassi, an experimental summer essential that merges Bira 91’s flagship Wheat Ale and a milkshake beer into one flavourful bomb,” he explains. Creating new flavours for the Bira 91 family is a function of consumer feedback, and the taproom in Bengaluru has been a haven of experiments and innovation towards achieving the right mixes for beer lovers. This is why Bira 91 Limited Release Taproom has been awarded the People’s Choice Award for the Best Microbrewery/Taproom of 30 Best Bars in India Awards.
With consumer preferences changing, Bira 91 has access to an ever-expanding market in India where people can now sit over a couple of beers at a bar or crack a bottle open at home. But beyond India, the brand has been able to find some penetration in 18 countries around the world, including the US, UK, Bahrain, Dubai (UAE), Oman, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia, Maldives, Japan, and Sweden. This also means ramping up production to five breweries in India and manufacturing capacity up to 2.4 million cases a month. This is a 6x increase in comparison to 2019. At present, they have five breweries that are operational in Maksi, Nagpur, Kovvur, Mysuru, and Gwalior.
Collaborations and merchandise
As a brand that seeks to constantly connect to consumers, Bira 91 has continued to engage in activities that accommodate members of the public as part of their journey. They have done this through producing exciting merchandise since 2016. The goal, according to Jain, is to create amazing experiences both at home, out of home for their numerous consumers. “It is about lifestyle and deepening the relationship between the brand and the customer. Our Merch store has played an important role in our growth story and enabled a strong connection with consumers.
“It’s almost like an e-commerce operation, replete with its own sourcing, customer service, and product development teams. We have a range of merchandise available including beer and glassware, service ware, as well as apparel and accessories such as wallets, tote bags, laptop sleeves, and so on,” adds Jain. By this move, there’s a deeper connection with members of the public and consumers can better interact with their favourite brand, especially in a country where alcohol advertising is prohibited. Such genius is what has helped Bira 91 to stand out since its establishment.
A number of collaborations have also been entered into with renowned brands in a bid to introduce carefully curated and memorable experiences for consumers. These include a collaboration with boAt, India’s largest consumer wearables’ brand for an exclusive limited-edition collection of three spunky audio devices that are high on functionality and aesthetics. Bira 91 also teamed up with Nicobar, a homegrown lifestyle brand, on a limited-edition capsule of clothing and accessories inspired by the Bira 91 Gold variant.
But that’s not all! Jain explains that these are just notable brands who share the same ideology and customer-centric approach to business. “It’s basically about the consumers. We understand that consumers like to be connected to their brands in more ways than mere transactions. This is how brand equity is built; this is how loyalty is formed – a bond of mutual respect and understanding – where both the brand and the consumer embark on an adventure together to explore different avenues and possibilities. That’s what we’ve achieved,” he says.
Challenges, projections, and future plans
The biggest challenge of the beer industry in India is restrictions on advertising, but innovative entrepreneurs like Jain believe even that is an opportunity. The increasing consciousness of consumers means they can now make intelligent choices, not based on cosmetic advertising like surrogacy, but on “narratives and conversations”. Bira 91 doesn’t engage in surrogate advertising because it considers itself a lifestyle brand, more concerned about engaging its consumers and creating an experience than trying to change their attitudes through media messages.
As Jain puts it, “the Merch shop we created in 2016 is an example of our approach. We have now run it for more than five years and it has become a significant portion of our revenue. I’m not talking about a small portion, but an integral part of our revenue and brand story. We have dedicated teams for purchasing, customer service, and other aspects of a typical e-commerce operation. These are the kinds of things that genuinely reflect the ethos and aspirations of our brand, and are the reason we’re now working towards building a restaurant to continue to create that rich experience for our consumers.”
Beyond collaboration with lifestyle brands in India on many ventures and products, Bira 91 is also looking to further expand into uncharted territories. But Jain understands that winning consumers’ hearts depends on having the perfect product and blends. “Owing to the pandemic, we did not launch many new products in 2020 and 2021. We are now all set to introduce more products than we did in the last five to six years combined. We progressively invested in our product innovation pipeline to get as many new flavours bottled/canned up for wider distribution, going beyond the limited-release beers that consumers can enjoy at our taprooms,” he adds.
India’s neighbours – Sri Lanka and Nepal – are in deep economic crisis. The crisis is a bit similar as both countries largely depend on revenues from tourism and that was severely affected due to the pandemic. Unlike Sri Lanka, Nepal is not that debt-ridden. Nevertheless, the Himalayan country is witnessing unprecedented inflation and its economy is just rolling down the mountains with no immediate relief in sight.
Hence, the Nepal Government headed by Sher Bahadur Deuba has initiated certain measures, including ban on imported cars, liquor, playing cards and nearly a dozen other “non-essential” goods to address the widening trade deficit and declining foreign currency reserves. Nepal’s central bank has said reserves are only sufficient to cover just over six months of imports, down from 10 months in mid-2021. The Finance Minister Janardhan Sharma has stated that the situation is nothing like Sri Lanka’s and that Nepal is in a “slightly better position” than Colombo in terms of production and revenue. He admitted, that although the forex reserves are stressful due to escalated imports of luxury items, Nepal is not burdened with foreign debts like Sri Lanka. Nepal’s trade deficit rose by nearly 34.5% on-year to $9.35 billion in mid-March, while forex reserves have fallen below $10 billion. Hence, the ban on some imported goods, including liquor.
“This is a short-term measure taken to prevent the economic condition of the country from going bad,” said ministry joint secretary Narayan Prasad Regmi. “The government has decided to curb imports of certain luxurious and non-essential goods as the recent surge in imports has put pressure on our economy.” The central bank had already verbally directed private lenders not to issue letters of credit for luxury goods earlier in April.
India major exporter to Nepal
In 2020, Nepal imported $5.58M in hard liquor, becoming the 142nd largest importer of hard liquor in the world. In the same year, hard liquor was the 228th most imported product in Nepal and the imports are primarily from India ($2.64M), Singapore ($1.76M), United Arab Emirates ($786k), United Kingdom ($169k), and Malaysia ($140k).
While emergency restrictions on imports of high-end vehicles might temporarily bolster Nepal’s balance of payments, the fact that imported wines and spirits represent less than 0.2% of the country’s total import value suggests that the ban will have negligible economic impact, state some experts. The heavy taxes on imported wine and spirits generate almost $55 million in the form of excise and customs,
The fear is that ban on imported liquor may lead to ‘bootlegging’. Nepal has a significant informal alcohol market. According to research by the World Health Organisation and the Nepal Health Research Council, at least 66% of all alcohol consumed in Nepal was either illegal or home-produced, making for an illicit market that is more than twice the size of the legal market.
Experts said that prohibiting the import of international spirits and wines will only compound this problem, increasing the share of illicit alternatives through smuggling across borders into Nepal and counterfeiting of popular, premium international brands.
Locally, Nepal is known for some brews that mostly are made in homes. Rakshi is the Nepali term for a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage. Its alcohol content is around 45%. That is to say as a whiskey. Nepalese drink this homemade drink during the festivals.
Production and consumption of alcohol is controlled by the Madira Aain 2031. License is required to sell alcohol. However, it permits brewing and consumption for household purposes without a license. Gongo is made from scraps of ugali and maize, fermented over several days, and then distilled through a jerry-can of cold water into a soda bottle. This has hints of ethanol, but surprisingly palatable.
Tongba is the drink of the Limbu people of Eastern Nepal and also referred as Tibetan Hot Beer. And then there is Chaang which is made from a selection of cereals.
In 2020, Nepal exported $385k in hard liquor, making it the 123rd largest exporter of hard liquor in the world. During the same year, hard liquor was the 106th most exported product in Nepal. The main destination of hard liquor exports are to Japan ($231k), South Korea ($64.1k), Hong Kong ($53.6k), Macau ($20.4k), and Belgium ($13.5k).
The fastest growing export markets for hard liquor of Nepal between 2019 and 2020 were Macau ($20.4k), South Korea ($18.4k), and Japan ($8.41k).
Ironhill India in Bangalore is located in the IT hub near Marathahalli and is spread across a lavish 1.3 lac sq. ft. making it the largest microbrewery in the world. With installation art at every corner and an ambience to match, the new outlet will serve eight varieties of original craft beer. The space can accommodate more than 1800+ people at a time and makes a perfect venue for events, exhibitions and a night out as well that can be taken up with social distancing. Since the Bangalore launch the brand has established footprints with a swanky new outlet in Nellore and Rajahmundry as well. Teja Chekuri, Managing Partner, Ironhill India gives more details.
How did Ironhill India begin its journey?
Ironhill, the wonderland of breweries started its journey in 2017 at Vizag. We wanted to be the place for people from all walks of life to chill at, with our range of brews and hip ambiance. This was followed by Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Nellore, Rajahmundry and Bengaluru, with Ironhill Bengaluru being the largest microbrewery in the world. All Ironhill outlets have something unique about them that makes them stand out.
We are also, the biggest microbrewery chain in the country with a total of seven most happening microbreweries across Southern India and gearing up to other parts of the country.
Our aim from the beginning has been simple, to give our patrons a taste of the brewtiful life, with expansive spaces, galvanising ambiance, trippy music, bespoke food menu, and tasty brews to quench the thirst for magical experiences. We cater to everyone, from beer connoisseurs to newbies, regulars to one-offs, colleagues to friends, and we are just getting started!
How different are the challenges managing outlets in the US and those in India?
From a holistic perspective, it is about running all our outlets efficiently and professionally and, in that sense, there is not much of a difference. Where the difference does arise though, is in the culture, the rules and regulations, and the needs of our patron. However, we have learned and dealt with those differences with the aim of providing the best hospitality experience across the board.
Any reason for beginning your journey in the South of India?
Being from this part of the country, we saw the massive scope, the relatively uncrowded hospitality scene, and of course, the lack of awareness about, as well as presence of good microbreweries. So, we entered the microbrewery scene in the South with the sole aim of catering to the local demographic present here and introducing world-class craft beers and indeed a world-class hospitality experience to our patron. With the burgeoning demographic that sought magical experiences, it made complete sense for us to open our microbrewery in the south.
How different are your retail outlets from the competition?
We are all about the beer and food, however, that isn’t to say that our cocktails are far behind. We provide a holistic experience, with larger-than-life spaces, a majestic ambiance, music across genres, an extensive food menu that takes influences from local as well as world cuisine, you name it, and we have. We are all about crafting experiences that are as magical and as perfect as they come.
What is your game plan for India?
Now that we have a solid footing in the southern part of India, we are looking at aggressively expanding and establishing a pan India presence in the next three to five years.
What is the scope for expansion of your craft beer outlets?
We are in expansion mode, and you will hear about us soon from all parts of the country.
What was the impact of Covid on your business?
Undeniably, Covid put a spanner in the works and caused us losses. However, we have a very proactive team and that meant when normalcy was restored, we got back to business on a war footing. Having gone through the tough times relatively unscathed, we are now absolutely gung-ho about the future prospects, as of now business is brisk and we are hitting numbers that are even better than pre-pandemic times.
What kind of styles of beer do you offer at your outlets?
We believe in innovation and experimentation, and hence we launch new brews ever so often. There are staple brews of course like the Wheat Beers, Blonde Ales, Cider, etc, but we also have new beers every month based on the season, like the Mango Ale, Mango Saison, Kiwi Cider, Coco Brown Ale, to name a few.
What kind of food menu do you offer at your outlets?
We have a healthy mix of grub-inspired by local cuisine as well as world cuisine. We have ensured that we have an extensive menu, and we cater to the palates of people from varied backgrounds, so, it would be fair to say, that we have it all.
How important is location for your outlets?
Location is a prerequisite to running a successful business. Space, high footfalls, demographic, spending power, presence of competition, and many such factors are taken into account before deciding on the location of our outlets.
Allied Blenders and Distillers (ABD), maker of iconic products like Officer’s Choice Whisky and Sterling Reserve, won the ‘Distiller of the Year’ high commendation at the Icons of Whisky India 2022.
Instituted by the London publication Whisky Magazine, Icons of Whisky celebrates the people, places and products that make exceptional contributions to the dynamic whisky ecosystem.
Speaking on the occasion, Shekhar Ramamurthy, Executive Deputy Chairman, ABD stated, “It is a great honour for ABD to be recognised by the industry. We have always kept the consumer central to our brands and have phenomenal success in Officer’s Choice, the 3rd largest whisky brand globally, and more recently, Sterling Reserve which is amongst the fastest growing worldwide.”
Architect, Interior Designer, Restaurateur, and Founder of Beyond Designs Bistro, Neha Gupta has launched a second restaurant. The new culinary offering is titled, Nineteen78, hinting at the classical influence of the cuisine on offer.
Propelled by the success of Beyond Designs Bistro, Neha takes assured steps to expand her culinary brand. The new restaurant is located at the popular Select CITYWALK, New Delhi.
Having mastered the art of offering a carefully crafted couture experience with the Bistro, she has now launched a prêt affair with Nineteen78. From a relaxed and elegant dining affair at the Bistro that is every bit cherishable, her patrons now have a chance to grab an equally memorable meal at the new restaurant.
The 48-seater multi-cuisine restaurant presents a delectable mix of European, Asian and Coastal cuisines from Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The menu sees the trained chefs revisiting certain classic dishes while also serving up some modern experimental fare. From Caesar and Fattoush salads with a twist to Chicken in spinach sauce with Orzo salad and grilled vegetables; from Sweet and spicy Hong Kong ginger fish to Caramelized dry Vietnamese chicken, and prawn linguini, Sliced lamb in hoisin sauce, there are several finger-licking options to choose from. Raspberry pie with vanilla ice cream, apple crumble & ice cream Chocolate devil cake, and many more make up the dessert menu. The restaurant also has a bar attached, offering a complete dining experience.
There is also an extensive breakfast menu with healthy as well as indulgent selections. The interiors designed by Neha and her husband Sachin Gupta of Beyond Designs, are a youthful mélange of contemporary styles. The boutique vibe of the restaurant is accentuated with colourful and quirky art and a fun bunch of lights made of steel and fiber. The marble tables with metal cast bases are paired with retro-style wooden chairs and sofa seating.
While embracing a contemporary sensibility, the restaurant and the gastronomic experience it offers retain a vintage soul.