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Indian liquor trends pre and post COVID

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to impact India since its arrival in spring last year. The government initially reacted by imposing a national lockdown from 23rd March to 4th May last year. The on-trade was completely closed, as were most liquor shops in every state. Places of work shut down, so many young office workers left the urban centres. With the on-trade stifled, retail purchases and consumption of beverage alcohol at home became the norm in most mainstream categories. In India, however, women and younger consumers still feel uncomfortable drinking in front of more conservative parents and family members at home. Limitations on space and refrigeration favoured spirits over beer, RTDs and – especially for young urban women – wine, all of which are usually consumed cold.

The implications of the pandemic response for India’s status as a federal republic soon became clear. The importance of excise duty income from alcohol, tobacco and fuel was brought into sharp relief as revenue streams dried up and the diminishing income from national taxes, such as GST, were used to offset fiscal shortfalls at state level. Most states responded by increasing excise duties – often suddenly and steeply – as well as charging taxpayers one-off cess payments, commonly levied by central governments for a specific purpose. Unusually, this cess (tax on tax), commonly levied by central government for a specific and clearly defined purpose (and not shared with state governments), has been applied in a number of instances at state level as a Corona-cess. Some states have been more reluctant than others to review, reduce or cancel such supposedly temporary measures. For instance, Andhra Pradesh – where the government had tried to enforce prohibition before the pandemic – imposed a 75% excise duty incre for two days just as the national lockdown ended last May; and on the same day, Delhi imposed a 70% cess on the maximum retail price (MRP) of all liquor, which remained until 7th June.

The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse, especially for beer. The category relies on young urban drinkers and after-work occasions and its peak season for consumption was about to start. When lockdown ended, bars and restaurants re-opened in most states, but were limited to 50% occupancy, and workers were slower to return to offices. Many are still working from home or – during Q1 2021 – have returned to it.

Compared to some countries, where citizens often remained risk-averse and pessimistic after the first lockdown, Indian consumer confidence seemed to bounce back quickly. Many Indians assumed – wrongly – that their everyday hygiene challenges afforded them a high degree of natural immunity to the coronavirus.

The past year has confirmed that India is squarely a brown spirits market. Whisky absorbs two-thirds of consumption in this market; brandy – with a strong presence in the south – takes 20%; and rum takes around half of that. In a total market that has shrunk by around one-fifth, whisky declined only slightly less than brandy and rum, which fell around one-quarter. Beer and RTDs suffered precipitous falls, deprived of many of the venues and occasions that had driven consumption forward. All clear spirits witnessed steeper declines in consumption than dark spirits: in each category, sales of domestically produced brands bottled in India (BII) fell away faster. Even allowing for the experimentation evident in categories such as Irish whiskey, consumers sought out brands that they knew, had earned equity and had consistent quality. In short, they sought out certainties.

Two other fundamental shifts have also occurred. Firstly, the premiumisation trend – evident before the pandemic – saw some importers shift their focus to retail, increasing its offering of high-end brands, which were previously targetted at Duty-Free and at the on-trade. Disposable income spent on going out to eat and drink before the pandemic was instead often redirected to premium-and-above products for at-home consumption. Secondly, as a corollary to this and confirming the pressure on the mainstream, was down-trading out of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), either bottled in origin (BIO) or BII.

Budget-conscious consumers instead chose either country liquor or illicit alternatives, having long been deprived of licensed outlets in which to purchase their nips.

The on-trade closure has also impacted routes to market and the supply chain and it increasingly determines choice. When all outlets closed, some states permitted home delivery, which many thought heralded the long-expected rise of the e-commerce channel. In reality, this was an expedient option for retail outlets: e-commerce has not seen a consequent increase in regulation or investment since. On the contrary, drinks ordering apps, such as Hipbar, appear to have been actively discouraged.

The effects of a six-week shutdown of alcohol supply lasted long after it ended: restocking and logistics issues extended out-of-stock occurrences well into the summer months. Importers often found it difficult to source supplies as exporters were reluctant to ship to trading partners in an uncertain economy, not least because they wanted to avoid passing on rising logistics costs to consumers.

One of the responses, driven by leading country liquor suppliers, has been the emergence of intermediate or medium liquor produced locally: this refers to a price band of distilled liquor sold under licensed quota in certain states – presently Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh only – competitively priced between country liquor/IMIL (Indian-made Indian liquor) and IMFL. Commonly the price, set by the state, is at a 25% premium to the country liquor price, a similar proportion lower than IMFL pricing.

This system has the additional benefits of almost guaranteeing state excise income and reducing the occurrence of country liquor-related health issues through better-quality product. In theory, this model should be attractive to many more states. In practice, its implementation may be limited by the relative scarcity of country liquor distillers able to produce medium liquor of the requisite quality. Nevertheless, with investment and a little covert encouragement from the states, that provision will doubtless evolve over time.

In a decentralised India, the domestic beverage alcohol industry relies on a relatively small number of states for its success. The top three states – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal – account for one-third of India’s population. The top six states account for half of the population. West Bengal is the only corporate state: the beverage alcohol industry is regulated directly through a state body. By contrast, the five largest states in the south are each home to beverage alcohol corporations.

This complexity and large size of India means that there are very few companies that are truly national. Even those that are considered national – thanks to a contract bottling network – still retain large regional brands in their portfolios. There is a small number of multinationals twinning domestic production with imports that are focussed on urban distribution shared among importers and wholesalers. India has a larger number of local distillers aspiring to convert their regional origins into a multi-region or national presence; and there are many smaller distillers, the majority of whom supply locally. Most distillers, therefore, will only be trading in one or two jurisdictions and navigating one or two bureaucracies. For the larger players, these challenges are manifold.

The second half of 2020 saw the Indian beverage alcohol market emerging quickly and largely unscathed from Covid-19 and lockdown. Leading spirits companies in particular were reporting quarterly revenues and volumes that had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This was in spite of the on-trade remaining stifled, e-commerce failing to expand and the regulation and excise duty rises imposed by most states. However, by the second quarter of this year – the beginning of the new financial year for most corporations – this initial optimism about rapid recovery has somewhat evaporated.

The picture, though, is mixed. India’s federal state model shows up the inconsistencies between states: decisions can often be arbitrary, poorly thought through and political rather than practical, but a successful model in one state can be swiftly adopted in another. On the one hand, the Delhi state government’s legislation lowering the legal drinking age from 25 to 21 is positive for the industry. On the other, Andhra Pradesh will join Bihar, Gujarat and some other smaller states and territories to prohibit alcohol for around 250m people, which is nearly one-fifth of the population.

It cannot be overstated how the pandemic and its effects demonstrated the importance of beverage alcohol revenues to individual states’ budgets. Some state governments recognise this and are approaching their beverage alcohol policy with pragmatism by listening to the industry more attentively.

The key issues revolve around the temporary and permanent changes brought about by the pandemic. Office work may have changed permanently, calling into question whether or not urban on-trade lighthouse accounts will recover. It is uncertain when occupancy rates in on-trade venues rise above the current 50% constraint. The medium liquor system may see expansion into further states. It is also questionable whether premiumisation will persist or the second Covid-19 wave will dent consumer confidence fundamentally.

The wider economy, of course, is a determining factor. Declining disposable income has particular relevance for beverage alcohol spend. The industry is circumscribed by its investment in advertising and promotion. The pandemic has sharpened the senses of many executives and players, but left others close to collapse, unable to survive further uncertain events. States have pursued short-term solutions throughout the pandemic and it is unknown if this approach will persist. However, it is likely that the distilling capacity of the domestic industry will not grow. This has implications for all, given the contract-bottling model that has enabled the largest players to become truly national.

General Forecast Assumptions

On-Trade – In some states, the on-trade had re-opened up to 85% of its former capacity by Q1 2021. However, the occupancy restriction to 50% remains, so the real throughput is also likely to be at 50%. This will continue to affect beer and RTDs. Furthermore, on-trade sub-channels are re-opening at different rates.

Restaurants opened faster than bars; and bars faster than night venues. Whilst this appears to affect wine and premium spirits in higher-end outlets, the impact will be mitigated by the flexibility of suppliers, many of whom have switched attention to retail and targetting wealthier consumers.

Medium Liquor – Consumers in some states are now being offered a wider choice. Those who had traded down to country liquor may choose medium liquor instead of IMFL. Currently this is available in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, but more states may institute this. A significant number of consumers may prefer the taste and the brands on offer in the category to IMFL.

E-commerce – When three of the larger eastern states – West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkand – permitted home delivery of alcohol, it was thought e-commerce would, at last, be stimulated by the lockdown conditions. They were soon joined by Orissa and Maharashtra. However, steep delivery charges, regulatory uncertainty, a reluctance to invest and a poor delivery-logistics framework continue to hamper growth, as well as the nature of Indian e-commerce defined on the invitation issued by the West Bengal authorities as “handling the electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed food [and liquor] outlets”. Retail competitors required to pay for annual licences have lobbied against the channel as well. Some significant platforms – Amazon, Flipkart (Walmart), Big Basket, Swiggy, Zomato and the mobile app Hipbar, reportedly backed by Diageo and, in Mumbai, Living Liquidz – responded to state-level invitations to get involved after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of home delivery from licensed retail. However, it has become clear that any bureaucratic encouragement of home delivery has primarily been one of a range of responses to the crowds that gathered outside liquor shops last year and, while recurring lockdowns may help to accelerate e-commerce, the channel will not significantly impact the industry for the foreseeable future. Informal delivery, where customers call up the liquor store and get an order dropped off by moped, already existed and will continue.

Regulation – Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, had previously imposed a cess of 20 per bottle of beer. West Bengal, the fourth most populous state, increased consumer tax by 30%. Rajasthan, the sixth most populous, enacted both, adding20 per bottle and imposing a 10% increase in consumer tax. Their approach is unlikely to change. Additionally, the election in Bihar state did not return a government willing to reverse prohibition. Andhra Pradesh’s government was unable to enact prohibition but has discouraged some national players by making trading there problematic. However, it is assumed there is no foreseeable regulatory movement throughout the forecast period.

Consumer Base Expansion – India’s population is approaching 1.4bn, with less than half being of legal drinking age. The actual number of alcohol consumers is believed to be closer to 160m, only 7.5% of whom are women. Per capita rates for beer and RTDs remain low at around 1.2 litres for men and 150ml for women, re-calculated at 10 litres and 1.25 litres on estimated drinking population numbers. Wine has similar rates to RTDs, spirits are 1.8 litres per capita and nearly 15 litres on a re-calculated basis. There are more younger consumers joining the potential drinking population every year. Uptake by women reportedly increased during the pandemic.

At-Home Consumption – This trend is likely to persist beyond the pandemic. Wealthier consumers of premium spirits and imports spend for indulging at home and for gifts. The wedding industry will revive: most wine suppliers are focussing on higher-end offerings, educating consumers about its accessibility and suitability during meals, as well as drinking before and after. Beer and RTDs will find difficulty switching as their core message is based on going out and socialising rather than at-home consumption, and most consumers have insufficient refrigeration space at home.

Key Market Factors

Cultural – The legal drinking age varies from state to state. In most states it is 21, but 25 in the populous states of Haryana and the Punjab. In Maharashtra it is 21 for beer and wine, and 25 for liquor. Bigger states with a drinking age of 18 include Rajasthan in the north and Kerala in the south. Delhi is about to lower its LDA from 25 to 21.

Three states with larger populations prohibit alcohol. Gujarat has been dry for the longest, with Bihar and now Andhra Pradesh having imposed prohibition more recently. Outcomes are mixed, with Bihar and Andhra Pradesh reportedly having some of the highest per capita consumption rates for beverage alcohol nationally once illicit alcohol is factored in.

Demographic – A key driver of consumption has been urbanisation, particularly among younger LDA drinkers. The lockdown appears to have reversed this, with young office workers returning to their parents’ houses in smaller cities, towns and the countryside.

The overall population is nearly 1.4bn and grows by 15–20m or more every year. The drinking population is considerably smaller: at least half can only afford very cheap country liquor, which is largely unbranded alcohol with an estimated market of 250–285m cases.

The rapidly growing middle classes, who can afford premium-and-above, may number more than 150m. However, 98% of middle-class women and more than 20% of men are said not to drink for philosophical, religious or cultural reasons.

Some 49% of the population is aged under 19, and few drink, although younger consumers are generally more willing to consume alcohol than many of their parents. This leaves a market of between 25m and 30m people with the inclination and resources to drink IMFL.

Economic – There is little state support in India and wellbeing is the individual’s responsibility. With livelihoods uncertain but a young population inclined to optimism, the second Covid-19 wave may hit confidence hard and a volatile economy will see more cautious expenditure. Excise rates vary substantially from state to state even before the pandemic, which exacerbated the difference when states imposed cess payments to make up fiscal shortfalls.

A number of observers mention a shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure the revenues they can expect from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Trade – Difficulties with the supply of stock have been widespread. It is reported that lack of supply inhibited sales, especially of premium products. The pandemic hindered logistics and rendered delivery more expensive. Brand-owner allocations have also reduced the agility to respond to demand.

A further element is that the phenomenon of medium liquor in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh offers more settled revenue for states and gives consumers an alternative to IMFL. One leading country liquor supplier reports now selling twice as much medium liquor as it does country liquor per month. India is unusual in that spirits demand is significantly more developed than demand for beer. While there is some interplay between the two with bang-for-buck consumers keen to maximise alcohol content per rupee delivery, there were some signs that demand for beer was beginning to develop separately.

However, strong beers of 8.5% ABV still represent more than 82% of demand. The first lockdown also affected trade, and was both severe and ill-timed – six weeks without sales, just before peak season for beer and RTDs. The on-trade revived in the second half of 2020 with near full re-opening in some states, but night and weekend curfews, combined with 50% capacity limits, continue to constrain this channel. The uncertainty of lockdown and the unavailability of liquor drove some consumers back down to country liquor, although not in the south where it is banned in five large states.

There was more limited up-trading by wealthier consumers. However, mainstream products, brands and players have been affected with some of the less financially secure domestic players closing for some months. In some of the larger states, competition in the beverage alcohol category is relatively open. In more there are state corporations set up as wholesalers and frequently as retailers too. In all states, beverage alcohol participants must navigate a web of licences, quotas and taxes, and sometimes incentives.

In certain key states, the regulatory authorities that control pricing have rationalised their price lists. In Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana the correction has been downwards for higher-priced imports.

It is reported that there is shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure revenues from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Political – Breweries have been investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which has now resulted in fines for collusion and operating a cartel. The reputational impact is more serious than the financial cost.

Bacardí Rum Launches Limited-Edition Five-Year Cask Finish Series with The Release of Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish

To kick off National Rum Day, Bacardí Rum recently announced it is expanding its premium portfolio range with the launch of a limited-edition Bacardí Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish. This new rare rum offering marks the start of a five-year collection, which will see Bacardí unveil a new cask finish offering annually through 2025, with the cask finish changing each year based on the type of barrel used for the additional aging.

Each of the premium rums from the Bacardí Reserva Cask Finish series will begin with a base of Bacardí Reserva Ocho, aged under the Caribbean sun, and then finished for several additional months in a unique barrel that will change year to year. The finishing process differs from the aging process by increasing the complexity of the spirit – in this case, adding subtle notes of chocolate and almond, which are not typically found in Bacardí Reserva Ocho.

This year’s inaugural release has been aged in American oak barrels for eight to 12 years and finished in an Oloroso sherry cask for just over two months. These additional few months in the sherry cask allow the blend to take on a sweet, smooth velvety texture with notes of caramel, vanilla, and orange, along with hints of walnuts and almonds. The result is a deep mahogany flavour that gives off the aroma of dried fruits, raisins, walnuts, and almonds. This luxurious libation is best enjoyed neat in a room temperature tasting glass to bring out the full flavours of the finish.

A family-owned brand, Bacardí has been creating premium rums for dozens of years in collaboration with its deeply knowledgeable Maestros de Ron (Master Blenders), all carefully chosen and trained in seven generations of rum-making expertise who then shape and carefully craft all of the products. The rum blends from the new Reserva Cask Finish series are similarly crafted by Bacardí Master Blenders who selected the esteemed Bacardí Reserva Ocho as the base because it is based off of the original recipe from the family reserve created in 1862 and is a symbol of the brand’s heritage. The Oloroso sherry cask was chosen as the first finish in the series due to its origins from Spain, much like Bacardí founder, Facundo Bacardí Massó,

“We could not be more thrilled for the launch of Bacardí Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish to add to our Premium portfolio for a limited time. This is our first innovation for the premium range since the portfolio first launched in 2018, and we are excited to introduce four more innovations over the course of the next four years,” said Lisa Pfenning, Vice President, Bacardí for North America. “We have seen an increased popularity in premium rums throughout the years, namely sipping rums, and we hope our rum enthusiasts will appreciate the care and craftsmanship that has gone into blending the Reserva Cask Finish series – which will add new layers of beautiful and bold flavours to our smooth aged rums. Not only will the taste appeal to rum drinkers, but we believe that whiskey drinkers will find themselves reaching for a bottle of Bacardí Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish as well.”

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., the rum category revenue increased by 5.9% in 2020, with most of the growth attributed to High-End Premium (8.7%), Premium (7.5%) and Super-Premium (3.7%) categories. Premium rums are an increasingly growing segment and there is no better time to announce the launch of the new programme than this very moment. According to Nielsen, Rum Cask Finishes revenue is growing by over 190%. As Cask Finishes are most commonly found within the whiskey segment, Bacardí is seeking to entice whiskey drinkers to explore outside of the category through the launch of its new five-year Reserva Cask Finish Series. Be sure to keep an eye out to see when the next four finishes will be announced through 2025.

To accompany the launch of this new product, Bacardí is teaming up with famed celebrity photographer, Cam Kirk, to create an original NFT (non-fungible token) inspired by the Bacardí Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish. The partnership between Bacardí and Kirk is the embodiment of the rum brand’s ethos, Do What Moves You, which is a guiding principle rooted in self-expression and connectivity, celebrating creativity and individuality – something that Kirk puts forward in each of his many endeavours. The synergies between Kirk and Bacardí, formed by their shared passion for music and desire to move people both physically and emotionally, laid the groundwork for a natural partnership.

“Every time I take on a new project, I approach it with the highest level of precision and passion. I saw that exact precision and passion from the Master Blenders when they introduced me to the new Sherry Cask Finish and it was my honour to capture it for a fellow rum fan,” said Kirk. “This is my first-ever NFT, so I knew it had to be a truly special collaboration.”

Best places for Drinking Around the World

While drinking at night is very popular, day drinking during Covid times has also gained traction. There are a huge variety of day drinking destinations and beverage options around the world, from public parks in South Korea to cozy bars in Belgium to the beaches of Brazil. We look at some of the best drinking destinations in alphabetical order, first by country and then by city.

Mendoza, Argentina is ideal for day drinking

The entire Mendoza wine region is designed for day drinking, with its affordable wine tastings, winery lunches with wine pairings and beautiful weather year-round. But the creme de la creme of Mendoza winery lunches is the five-course lunch with (bottomless!) wine pairings at Bodega la Azul in the Uco Valley.

Yerevan, Armenia

The best things to do in Yerevan, Armenia, is drink wine. Saryan Street is the city’s “wine street”, famous for its Karas Wine. A great atmosphere for getting work done while enjoying a glass of wine or two.

Maffra, Australia

On a sunny day, both locals and visitors love to do some weekend day drinking by meeting up with friends, sitting around and trying some of Blue Gables’ amazing wines. There is nothing better than sipping from a chilled bottle of Moscato wine, sharing a wood-fired pizza and relaxing in this chilled-out environment.

Melbourne, Australia

There is no better way to spend a sunny day drinking in Melbourne, Australia than sipping prosecco outside at one of Melbourne’s many famous bars.Light, bubbly and refreshing, prosecco is the perfect drink to linger over as you relax in the sun.In recent years, Australian producers have mastered the art of Italian prosecco and you can find their drops all over town. The Australian proseccos come from the King Valley region, produced by Italian migrant families Dal Zotto and Pizzini. A seat at Arbory Bar on the Yarra River, next to Flinders Street station, offers a change of scenery and a unique venue in the middle of the river. Ponyfish Island is where your prosecco adventures in Melbourne continue in the shade of the Southbank bridge. It’s the kind of quintessential hidden bar that Melbourne is known for.

Sydney, Australia

The Bondi area in Sydney, Australia is the perfect place to day drink among other cheerful day drinkers. This is mainly due to the Bondi beach and Bondi Junction areas being popular with backpackers who don’t need much of an occasion to get their party on. It’s a popular pastime for the working holiday-makers in Sydney, who often start day drinking after an early finish on a Friday. This can continue throughout the weekend and culminates in the Sunday session which starts sometime on Sunday morning and ends when the pub closes.Most pubs in the area open early and have a very casual feel so you needn’t get dolled up for day drinking session.The ideal day drink in Bondi is beer and wine is also perfectly acceptable for those of us who can go the day-drinking distance on the vino.

Brussels, Belgium

A mere 20 minutes from the bustle of Brussels’ Grand Place, you’ll find the commune of Saint Gilles. Described by its mayor as the place where the world comes to meet, it’s an opportunity to see the real Brussels, Belgium. Here, alongside fabulous Art Nouveau buildings by the architect Victor Horta, you’ll find life lived among friends and family. You’ll find that life plays out both around you and with you in the bars of Saint Gilles.If you’re a fan of Belgian beer, then there are plenty of choices to sit back and enjoy day drinking in Brussels with a favourite brew. One popular venue is Union and Egalite which keeps more than 90 beers in a long bar studded with chandeliers. Make a day drinking date with a glass of the splendid Orval, and feel the sheer pleasure of being in Brussels.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Without a doubt, the favourite location for a spot of day drinking is Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.Either way, Copacabana Beach is awesome at all times of the year. And the drink of choice is Caipirinha. This is the most famous cocktail anywhere in Brazil. It is made from a spirit called cachaça, which comes from sugar cane. The cocktail is very simple to make: simply crush ice, lime juice and brown sugar, and then mix in some of the cachaça.Capirinhas are incredibly refreshing and very, very cheap to get anywhere in Brazil, making them perfect for day drinking in the hot sun.

Calgary, Canada

Although it’s not your typical cocktail, any good Canadian will tell you there is nothing like a Caesar to kickstart your day drinking session. Caesar is its birthplace, Calgary, Alberta.Think of a Caesar as the spicy, wilder cousin of a Bloody Mary – vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Clamato juice (yes, that’s clam and tomato juice!), served with a celery salted rim and typically topped with delicious garnishes such as pickled beans, asparagus or olives. But don’t let the clam juice throw you off! This cocktail is super popular across Canada.

Ontario, Canada

For a day of activity visit Prince Edward County, Ontario, for a craft brewery tour by bicycle. The County lies a few hours outside of Toronto, and is an increasingly popular craft beer hub for locals and tourists alike.Prince Edward County (PEC) is farmland-turned-wine and beer region with a vibrant art scene and food that compliments it. As the day wears on, try Grandpa’s Coffee Stout at Parson’s as you relax in oversized Muskoka chairs. If you like sour beers, 555 Brewery is for you with its Jail Cell Sour Series. Their pizzas are delicious.Finally, end your day of beer and biking at Sandbanks Provincial Park in PEC. Here you’ll find Ontario’s white sand beaches lining some of the clearest freshwater in the world. It’s the perfect place to have a campfire and toast some marshmallows, and maybe enjoy a couple more evening brews as you relax beneath the stars.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba is known for its nightlife, but the truth is Cubans also love to drink rum during the day. Most tourists spend their time in Old Havana, which is a gorgeous and home to several bars claiming that Hemingway once drank there, but the more modern side of Havana, is where the locals go drinking.A good spot for day drinking in Havana is Playa del Estes, just outside of the city center. This beach is where locals visit on weekends. For a cocktail in Havana try 403 O’Reilly in Old Havana, a popular gin bar that also has other mixed drinks.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Czech Republic is known for its beers. Český Krumlov is also filled with wonderful locations for an afternoon glass of local wine. The veranda at Papa’s Restaurant is ideal for a little picnic beside the Vltava River in the shadow of Krumlov Castle and indulge in some day drinking as you watch the kayakers pass by.

Épernay, France

Épernay is a great destination for champagne lovers. In fact, Épernay is the capital of the Champagne area! It is in Épernay where the most famous champagne brands like Moët Chandon and Mercier have their headquarters and vineyards, but there are also other independent champagne makers with interesting proposals.The champagne is produced in a very limited area, with very specific kind of grapes and a very specific process. Any drink produced out of this area or without following these rules cannot be called champagne; that’s why the champagne is so exclusive!Épernay is well connected by train, which makes of Épernay an excellent day drinking day trip from Paris or Reims.

Berlin, Germany

Beer is German’s drink of choice. Berlin, Germany is to join the locals for a frosty glass of cold beer, preferably at a sidewalk picnic table or another busy location that lends itself to people watching and meeting new travel friends.

Munich, Germany

Munich’s annual Oktoberfest festival is one of the best places in the world for some serious day drinking and a great party atmosphere.

Dublin, Ireland

O’Donoghue’s Bar is a historically significant drinking place located 15 Merrion Row in Dublin, Ireland. It is a popular pub that has attracted tourists from all over the world for over 50 years. O’Donoghue’s is known for its amazing, live, traditional Irish music, and it’s the place that introduced the popular band The Dubliners in 1960s. The bar is also frequented by other world renowned Irish traditional music bands and artists, whose pictures are displayed inside the pub.Considered to be one of the most authentic Irish pubs in the country, this bar does not only offer good entertainment, but also good drinks. A popular day drinking pub as well, O’Donoghue’s Bar is open from 10 am to midnight daily. There’s no better place to experience Ireland in an authentic way other than to gobble down a pint or two of Guinness while listening to traditional Irish songs.

Verona, Italy

Dining al fresco in the town square, dressed to the nines, wearing designer shades and sipping a great cocktail might seem like the ways of the rich and famous, but any Italian tourist can enjoy this day drinking tradition!Walk along the rim of Piazza Bra in the heart of Verona, Italy to see cafes filled with locals and visitor alike. Mid-day they might be enjoying antipasti, formaggio, or a late lunch, but in their glasses, many will sport the blood orange aperitif very popular in this region, an Aperol.Nicknamed “Ape” by the locals, this liquor can be served on the rocks, or more commonly in an Aperol Spritz – a combo of Aperol, Prosecco, soda and an orange slice. However you serve it, this drink is meant to be enjoyed during happy hour, to open your palate for the evening meal to come!

Negril, Jamaica

When you are in Jamaica you will always hear people say “give me a Red Stripe” when they are at the beach bar. They are referring to Red Stripe beer, the most popular beer brand in Jamaica.Negril Beach is a few miles of white sand beach dotted by hotels and the quintessential beach bars. You can basically work your way down the beach, stopping at the various beach bars to enjoy a Red Stripe beer or a rum. The beach bars are also a great place to people watch, enjoy the vibes and make new friends. At the end of your day drinking, you’ll get to watch the famous Negril sunset.

Maldives

Day drinking cannot get any better than on an exotic island resort in the Maldives. The Paradise Island Resort, otherwise known as Lankanfilnolhu in the north atoll in the Maldives, is a pristine white sand luxury resort island best for strolling around… with vodka, of course!The Maldives is a tropical country and it gets pretty humid during the daytime, so the best way to beat the heat is by sipping a coconut vodka cocktail. The extremely refreshing coconut vodka is served at the Hulhangu bar, a sea-facing bar at the Paradise Island Resort. To give it a more exotic touch, the drink is served in a traditional Maldivian coconut. The refreshing flavour of the coconut, mixed with vodka and topped with lemon and mint leaves, is the ideal beverage to drink on a sunny afternoon at the beach.Hydrating and refreshing, sipping a coconut vodka cocktail at the Hulhangu bar’s seafront porch is something that everyone should have the good fortune to experience.

Mexico City, Mexico

Xochimilco in Mexico City is a series of canals that wind around chinampas, or artificially created islands with small farms, sometimes referred to as ‘floating gardens’. Bright, gondola-like boats crowd the canals, manoeuvred by a driver with a long pole. A boat can fit up to 20 people, and you can rent one by the hour. Smaller boats weave around the bigger ones, selling all kinds of snacks and beverages.Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail. A litre-sized soda cup is filled with lime juice and Dos Equis beer, then the rim is smeared with spicy Mexican tamarindo candy and chili powder.Mexican Tequilas too are world famous. Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from agave. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, but while tequila is only made from one type of agave plant (blue agave), mezcal can be made from 28 types of agave, including blue agave.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of the best places to enjoy a day of relaxing day drinking is in Amsterdam. It’s actually acceptable in the Netherlands to sit on a lovely cafe balcony and sip on a beer in the afternoon while you people watch and chat with friends. Luckily, you don’t need to only drink Heineken. There are lots of great cafes and beers to choose from. A favourite spot in Amsterdam is Brouwerij ’t IJ. This craft brewery in Amsterdam (next to a windmill!) is open all afternoon and closes early in the evening, so you actually need to get started early if you intend to sample their fantastic beers. Otherwise, you can head up to Amsterdam Noord to sample beers from the Oedipus, another great craft brewery.

Marlborough, New Zealand

The New Zealand wine region of Marlborough is superb area in which to day drink your way through a series of amazing wineries. You can easily rent a bicycle and cycle through ten wineries in a small area… or you can hire a driver and make it a heck of a lot easier. Whichever way you decide to go, Marlborough is a great wine region where Sauvignon Blanc dominates, but smaller grapes will win your taste buds.Here in Marlborough you’ll find small boutique wineries like Gibson Bridge Winery and the up-and-coming Wairau Cove, alongside internationally known Cloudy Bay, and if you want a beer at the end of the day, there’s always the craft brewery, MOA!

El Nido, Philippines

When considering the best places in the world for day drinking you’d be amiss to exclude El Nido in the Philippines from your list. El Nido is an eco-tourism hotspot with beaches are to die for and (very importantly!) the booze is cheap!When you’re sitting on the beach, being served chilled, fresh coconuts filled with generous amounts of Filipino Don Papa rum is the best experience.

Krakow, Poland

Hot mulled wine is quite popular in many places, but have you heard of hot beer? “Hot” and “beer” are two words that one wouldn’t normally associate together, but hot beer is actually is an interesting beverage and if you are visiting Poland, you must try it.Hot beer is served in most bars all over Poland. However, the bars in Krakow are especially popular.Wrega Pub is located in the Kazimierz area of Krakow, making it an ideal place to enjoy some day drinking after a spot of sightseeing.

Lisbon, Portugal

Ginjinha is a liqueur synonymous with Lisbon, Portugal. Made from Ginja or Morello cherries, sugar and fortified wine, it is the go-to drink for locals and visitors alike, and any visit to Lisbon would be complete without sampling at least one Ginjinha in Lisbon.The famous cherry liqueur was drunk by the late Anthony Bourdain when he filmed his television show, No Reservations, in Lisbon. Apparently, he enjoyed a number of glasses of Ginjinha with the locals.Porto’s most famous tipple is undoubtedly port wine. This sweet, fortified wine originates a few hundred kilometres upstream in the Portugal’s Douro Valley, but thankfully you don’t need to go far to start enjoying it. The cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, have been storing oak barrels of port wine for centuries.

South Africa

Wine tasting is a great excuse for day drinking, and it allows you to sample delicious wines in beautiful settings.Visiting South Africa’s Cape Winelands is the perfect excuse to start day drinking delicious wines early in the morning.

Soju in South Korea

South Korea is by far one of the best day drinking destinations in the world. South Korea is actually the country that consumes the most alcohol in the entire world, because of their great love for soju, a traditional Korean spirit. You will find day drinking to be a common activity among the locals. Most convenience stores have tables and chairs set up outside for people to enjoy their snacks, beer and soju any time of the day or night.

Girona, Spain

There is one form of day drinking that is perfectly acceptable throughout the Catalan province of Spain – taking a vermouth.Vermouth is a big deal in Catalonia, with Vermouth bars opening around 11:00 am, and closing around 3:00 or 4:00 pm. Vermouth is a fortified wine, served over ice, with a lemon slice and often an olive stuffed with anchovies on the rim. It is best enjoyed with a few little tapas, including a tortilla espanola, olives or anchovies.The best place for vermouth in Catalonia is in Girona, in the Costa Brava.

Malmo, Sweden

Winters in Sweden are a challenge. Enter Akvavit, or Aquavit, to the rescue. Aquavit is an alcohol that has been used to warm the Scandinavian body, mind, and spirit since the 15th century.Akvavit is distilled from grain and potatoes, and is flavoured with herbs and spices. It has a distinct flavour that admittedly has to grow on you. But once it does, yippee, as it provides a nice warm feeling to ward off the early darkness and short winter days.Not for the faint of heart, Aquavit is 40% alcohol by volume, or 80 proof by US standards. It will kick your butt and take you prisoner if you have too much.Still, Aquavit is such an important part of Scandinavian culture that it is used to toast weddings, graduations and Christmas dinners. Typically served as shot, it is consumed after singing a song, called a snapsvisa or a “schnapps song”.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand is good for many things – seeing all the temples, eating your body weight in pad Thai and spending the day in the sun with a Chang beer. And if you’re going to do this, there’s only one place to do it right: Khao San Road.

New Orleans, USA

While you can find daiquiris and Irish coffees anywhere, only the Tropical Isle Bar in the French Quarter sells Hand Grenades. The recipe for the Hand Grenade originated here in the late 1980s and is patented by its owners. The drink is frozen and sugary sweet, with a melon flavour, and it is served in a tall green container shaped like a hand grenade. This is all perfect to mask what it actually contains – vodka, rum, gin, grain alcohol, and melon liqueur!The Tropical Isle Bar even has its own mascot for the Hand Grenade and over a million drinks are sold every year!

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

When it comes to day drinking piña coladas, there is no better place to enjoy the pineapple, coconut and rum concoction than Barrachina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barrachina, a restaurant nestled in the heart of Old San Juan, claims to have been the birthplace of the piña colada in 1963. Be advised though, there is disagreement that the piña colada originated a few years prior at the Caribe Hilton.

Santa Ynez, California, USA

The Santa Ynez Valley in southern California, USA, is a fantastic place for drinking! The Santa Ynez Valley is a wonderful part of the world where the sun shines warmly for much of the year and winters are mild. The rolling hills are covered in vineyards and horse ranches. The quiet roads curl around between fields and buildings.This region is also renowned for its chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, and is home to around 120 wineries. Many of these California wineries open their doors to people who want to come and indulge in some wine tasting.

Sonoma County, USA

Wine is life in Northern California. The north part of the state is known for its vast range of wineries, wine makers and wine culture.Sonoma County is one of the spots that you can’t miss. If you are looking for a day of great wine, day drinking and some beautiful scenery, Sonoma County is the place to go. It is a short twenty-minute drive from the Santa Rosa Airport or roughly two hours from San Francisco International Airport. Bourbons, Tennessee whiskies are also popular in US bars.In India, Goa and Pondicherry are also ideal locales for drinking. Feni is a popular tipple of Goa. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore are big markets. Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata and Nashik are other popular cities for drinking.

Blended, not stirred! Bacardí Rum celebrates with Limited Edition Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits

Bacardí Rum has partnered with ‘Poptails by LAPP’ to launch a limited run of delicious Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits for rum lovers to enjoy just in time for the revival of summer in the UK. Frozen cocktails are having a real moment and are currently the seventh most ordered serve for summer 2021, showing their universal popularity as Brits look to cool down from the summer heat.

Bacardí Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits will be available to pre-order from 18th August for £35, exclusively on the Poptails By LAPP website. Perfect for cocktail lovers who yearn to evolve their mixology skills while creating easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing cocktails within minutes when entertaining.

Cocktail enthusiasts will be able to choose between two kit flavours – a tropical coconut and pineapple kit made with bold and fresh Bacardí Coconut to make a Rumstar Colada frozen cocktail (a twist on the classic Pornstar Martini), or a zesty berry kit which includes all the ingredients to make a delicious frozen Red Berry Daiquiri with tangy and sweet Bacardí Raspberry to enjoy and sip in the sun.

The Bacardí Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits will keep summer going and transport you to a tropical paradise with a vibrant drinks experience – all from the comfort of your own garden and without needing any extraordinary bartender expertise, just a blender! The kits both feature the new limited edition Bacardí Raspberry and Bacardí Coconut bottles in addition to LAPP’s non-alcoholic flavoured Poptails that arrive frozen. Just blend for 10 seconds with the fruity expression from Bacardí and other recipe ingredients for the ultimate tipple.

Inspired by the Caribbean heritage and vibrant personality of Bacardí, the new limited edition bottles will make you feel like your back yard is a beach, bringing a summer holiday vibe to any bar cart or back bar. The design also reflects the natural flavours of the ingredients in Bacardí Coconut and Bacardí Raspberry, showcasing fresh flavour inside and out.

“With many Brits staycationing in the UK this summer, August will finally bring us some much-deserved heat and how better to celebrate than with a frozen cocktail!” says Marie Peyto, Brand Director for Bacardí Rum UK. “After partnering with key bars across the UK to bring delicious frozen cocktails to the public, we wanted to create a way for people to also enjoy at home with Bacardí Rum just in time for summer’s hot finale. Now anyone can create bar-quality frozen drinks in their own kitchen with our new Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits in partnership with LAPP – complete with new eye-catching Bacardí Coconut and Raspberry bottles that are perfect for summer entertaining”.

Continuing the tropical, vibrant, and fun experiences this summer, Bacardí also announces the arrival of its new drink-dispensing billboard which will serve fruity frozen cocktails to the sun-lovers of London, creating a slice of paradise on the Thames. The public will be able to sample both Bacardí Coconut and Bacardí Raspberry in complimentary frozen cocktails on 21st and 22nd August from 12:00pm to 19:00pm at Observation Point, Southbank, and can vote for their favourite for the chance to win one of 10 Fruity Frozen Cocktail Kits to enjoy at home, in the flavour of their choice.

ASCI bans surrogate advertising in IPL

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) banned surrogate advertising of liquor during India’s showstopper event – Indian Premier League 2021 which however, got truncated, due to some players and franchise staff testing positive. Talks are on to hold the unfinished spectacle in the United Arab Emirates, like it did in 2020 without crowd attendance, to be viewed on a broadcast platform.

It was during 2020 IPL that surrogate advertising was active on television and digital medium, particularly OTT (over the top), the latter in the absence of clear guidelines. “The IPL broadcaster for TV has confirmed to the ASCI that all advertisements are checked for CBFC clearance so that they are not in violation of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (CTNR). Keeping that in mind, the ASCI processed complaints on advertisements appearing in OTT, digital and print media,” ASCI said. The association suo motu took up 14 complaints and some of the advertisers withdrew the ads.

Brand extensions have some leeway

The CTNR rules prohibited the direct or indirect advertising of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants in 2009. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry, however, allowed advertisements of products even if they shared a brand name with a liquor or tobacco product so long as it wasn’t a manifestation of the prohibited product. Advertisement of brand extensions of liquor and tobacco products is permitted under CTNR, provided the product sold under the brand extension does not make direct or indirect references to the prohibited product, it is distributed in reasonable quantity and is available in a substantial number of outlets, and the proposed expenditure on the advertisement of the brand extension product is not disproportionate to the actual sales turnover of that product.

ASCI guidelines for brand extensions

The Advertising Standards Council has ‘Guidelines for qualification of brand extension product or service’ wherein for an advertisement to qualify as a genuine brand extension advertisement (by implication, not surrogate), the in-store availability of the product sold must be at least 10% of the leading brand in the product category or sales turnover of the product must exceed `5 crores annually or `1 crore in the state where the product is distributed.

Age-old question, whether to allow liquor advertising or not?

However, the question that keeps raking up is an age-old issue – whether to allow liquor advertising / surrogate advertising or not? And the topic is universal leading to unending debates. Across continents, there are countries where liquor advertising is allowed and then there are as many countries that have banned / restricted advertising of alcoholic beverages. In the United States, spirits advertising has self-regulatory bodies that create standards for the ethical advertising of alcohol. In the UK, advertising for alcoholic drinks follows a code enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, while the packaging and branding of the products is subject to self-regulation. In Thailand, alcohol advertisements are allowed but with a warning message. In South Korea, public advertising is allowed only after 10 p.m. In the Philippines, alcohol advertising comes with a disclaimer ‘Drink Responsibly’. In India, liquor advertising was banned after the Ministry of Health found that cigarettes and liquor had adverse effects on a person’s health. However, advertisements for liquor brand extensions can run on television only if they have a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification. That led to the companies (manufacturers and also advertising agencies) becoming innovative with ‘surrogate advertising’ wherein unrelated products with the same brand name is manufactured / advertised and sold, only to ensure that the liquor brand name stays right on top of consumers’ minds. Unrelated products include mineral water, music CDs, soda, sports accessories and anything that can be advertised.

Active on digital media

The question here is when liquor companies are active on social media which is a major influencer, an indisputable force and not to mention its enormous reach, the whole idea of banning on OTT and television smacks of hypocrisy. It is indeed paradoxical that excise which is one of the top revenue earners for most states, going up to 15 % of the overall revenues, is not allowed to be promoted. There is a school of thought that believes if a product is allowed to be manufactured and sold, it should be allowed to be advertised, but that is over simplification as it will certainly be like opening up the Pandora’s Box.Gokul Krishnamoorthy who worked with an agency that handled United Breweries in an opinionated article in the Financial Express says “While ASCI banning surrogate ads by liquor brands during the curtailed IPL 2021 was a welcome move, it prompted a question in many minds. What explains the existence of a team called ‘Royal Challengers Bangalore’? One can’t help but remember that the current captain of the team Virat Kohli is idolised by a young boy in a health beverage commercial, among many others. Royal Challenge is a brand of whisky owned by United Spirits, which also owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team. If scale of presence, volume of advertising, market share and the likes are the key metrics by which one decides whether or not an alcohol brand can advertise its extension, then Royal Challengers Bangalore has no problem at all.” He goes on to add “The only seeming solution then, albeit rather simplistic and overarching, is that if a brand is present in a category where promotion is banned, it should not be allowed to promote itself in any context. It should be denied the right to promotion, whether for its shared corporate brand, for its extension, for its event, for its cricket team or whatever else.” Since such conundrums exist, there are those who feel that we need to shed this hypocrisy and accept that people do drink and reaching them is a legitimate part of a company’s business plans. The companies should be allowed to promote safe, moderate and responsible drinking. In states where there is prohibition this issue does not crop up at all. With digital media coming into play, some players have been advertising brand extensions as the CTNR does not apply to advertisements over the internet. This is changing as we have seen the government bringing social media under control. The digital medium is pretty nascent and governments are grappling with policies to rein in the medium. Indian liquor companies have been using social media to promote their brands. The UB Group recently tied up with a digital content company which produced a web series titled ‘Pitchers’, a five-part series on four friends trying to launch a start-up. With over 10 million viewers, the show got a rating of 9.7 out of 10 on internet movie database website, making the new concept of advertising, going beyond surrogate advertising. As rules become stricter, liquor brands will look at different channels – events, experiential, branded content and in-film, like ‘Pitchers’. As manufacturers need to advertise, one way or the other as to get their products sold, they have been innovative in how to get the message across.

Women in the Dry State of Gujarat are Jumping on the Alcohol Consumption Bandwagon!

Earlier, we reported that binge drinking among women has been increasing steadily over the past few years. Thirteen percent of adult women have reported binge drinking four times a month on an average while consuming five drinks per binge. A 2019 survey conducted by TU Dresden in Germany found that Assam led alcohol consumption among women in India. However, the North-eastern state is not the only Indian state where alcohol consumption has increased drastically. Gujarat, the Dry State, is climbing up the charts steadily too.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released recently for the year 2019-20, it was discovered that the number of women consuming alcohol in the Dry State has doubled in the last four years. The survey studied a total of 33,343 women and 5,351 men from Gujarat. 200 women (0.6 percent) and 310 (5.8 percent) reported that they consumed liquor. 

Previously, in the NFHS-4 Survey (2015-16), the sample under study in the state included 22,932 women and 5,574 men amongst whom 618 men (11.1 percent) claimed they drank liquor while only 68 women (0.3 percent) claimed the same.

A comparison between both the surveys shows that while the number of women consuming alcohol in Gujarat has doubled, the number of men doing the same has nearly halved.

Gaurang Jani, a sociologist, said “The middle class and upper middle class have embraced the party culture in recent times. As a result, women in families have also started consuming liquor. Earlier, men used to go out to drink. Now, a new culture of consuming liquor in family parties has emerged. People are throwing family parties to celebrate even small events. Moreover, kitty parties have also contributed to higher liquor consumption among women, NRIs are also bringing liquor with them and enjoying it during house parties here with relatives.”

Jani thus pointed out that the rise in party culture as well as the growing acceptability of drinking in society has contributed to the rise in the number of women drinkers.