BENGALURU : Toasting with extra dry sparkling wine from a gold-plated bottle, malts sourced from Finland, Britain and Germany, and bottled gin and tonic... The pandemic has definitely brought about changes in routines and work life, and Bengalureans are increasingly turning towards unwinding with a glass in hand. Many of them are, in fact, now preferring a premium quality imported beverage.
"Spending time with friends and family is now key and this is enjoyed with quality beverage. Young Bengalureans are fairly conscious of what they consume after work," says Roshni K Hemdev, managing director - Business, Ciro Trade, importers of alcoholic beverages.
"A 500 ml can of our beer has 220 calories. It has no added sugar, rice or maize. It is made using only wheat, barley, hops and water. With health concerns playing a key role, the youth now prefer low-calorie beer, and quality red, white and sparkling wines, while gin is also seeing an increase. With night-outs at restobars turning into brunch at open-air venues, sparkling wine and prosecco clearly would be a winner," says Hemdev, adding that the beverages are priced between Rs 300 and Rs 5,400.
Bottled brews seem to be the flavour of the season, with Latambarcem Brewers (offering bespoke bottled craft beer MAKA di) and Salud Beverages (premixed gin & tonic in a bottle) heading that way.
"We are catering to the younger generation at house and pool parties, as well as the growing segment of Sunday brunch-goers. For the health conscious millennial, it contains natural flavours with natural sugars with an abv of 6 per cent. It’s the perfect way to unwind," says Salud Beverages founder-director Ajay Shetty.
Another contributing factor to this mushrooming of launches, according to Thrivikram Nikam, joint MD, Amrut, is that unlike most markets in India, label registration in Karnataka is open throughout the year, which becomes encouraging for a manufacturer. "We have just launched the Nilgiris gin that is crafted with botanicals foraged from this mountain range and infused with paan," he says.
An educated and receptive market to alcohol brands across genres and segments, the city provides a "must-enter space" for any serious alcohol brand, stresses Latambarcem Brewers CEO Aditya Ishan Varshnei.
"The name of the game is innovation, and while it is understandable that those in the age group of 20-35 years would be most receptive to new craft beers, I find that the acceptance levels span across higher age groups as well. We are aware that home consumption of alcohol has grown due to the pandemic and therefore the key to success will be the availability of the brand throughout the city for home consumption," he says, pointing out that beer is quite clearly the dominant alco-beverage among Bengalureans.
"There is also a great demand for probiotic wellness beverages and out-of-the-box drinks in the non-alcoholic space and this is where our probiotic 'anytime anywhere' kombucha brand Borecha comes in," he says.
The challenge, for Varshnei, lies in introducing new variants to fit in a vibrant space like Bengaluru, while Hemdev points to too many options. "This is where our team is working on educating the customers about what we are offering and what it pairs well with. Knowledge is key and Bengalureans are open to learning," she says.
Agrees Nikam, who finds that in most Indian markets, consumers lean towards established names. "However, I feel this is slowly changing, and people are open to trying new labels and offerings," he says.