Low spirits: alcohol sales lowest in 15 years

A 10% dip in sale was recorded this year; bar owners feel the 1.30 am deadline for music contributed to the plunge

While the city brought in 2012 with food, fun and frolic, it wasn't the merriest of times for bar owners across the city. Owners grumbled that the rise in price of alcohol and the ban on music post 1.30 am, made this year one of the least profitable New Year's Eves for them in the last few years.

No fizz: Even though the sale of one-day party licences saw a 
considerable increase, the sale of liquor plunged. Representation pic

Officials from the state excise department claimed that the decision of allowing the sale of alcohol till 5 am, did not set the cash registers ringing and income from alcohol sales decreased by 10 per cent. Mohan Varde, superintendent of the state excise department, said, "This year, the sale of one-day party licences saw a considerable increase but even after this, the sale of liquor saw a decrease by 10 per cent."

Echoing the frustration that hotel and permit owners were feeling, Meldan D'cunha, owner of Soul Fry, Bandra, said, "The sale of alcohol was the lowest this year compared to the past 15 years. Several patrons switched to beer as the cost of Indian made foreign liquor has increased. Also, many people chose to stay at home ringing in the New Year with house parties. Additionally, the anti drink and drive campaign undertaken by the traffic police killed the spirit of celebration and fun."

And it wasn't just the prices that played party pooper. The confusion over the deadline of music also attributed to the decrease in sale of alcohol. A pub owner on the condition of anonymity revealed that on Saturday evening, the Mumbai police issued an order stating that all those who were granted an extended deadline for music till 5 am would have to stop playing it by 1.30 am. "Partygoers had to return home unhappy as music was stopped at 1.30 am, which indirectly affected the sale of alcohol." 

Minting money
But as hotel owners complained of the losses they incurred, wine shop owners had a different story to share. "The sale of alcohol went up by 30 per cent for us as most people chose to party at home and buy their liquor from us rather than burn their pockets at hotels. Premium brands such as Antiquity Blue and Signature were the most popular to be bought," said Sanjeev Arora, wine shop owner, Bhandup. 

Alcohol worth Rs 10,000 seized
Officials from the excise department seized bottles of defence-canteen alcohol at Grant Road on Saturday. An official said, "Alcohol worth Rs 10,000 was seized during transportation. We are verifying if the alcohol was genuine liquor from the defence canteens."

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