What did Mumbai drink all summer?

May 24, 2014, 09:41 IST | Dhara Vora

What was the city's favourite spirit, as the temperatures soared? Did beer win hands down? Or did we see new contenders for the crown?

Mugs of chilled beer. Friendly banter. A nail-biter T20 game in progress. This visual seems to have reigned supreme all summer at most of Mumbai’s pubs, lounges and restaurants. Clearly, beer seems to be the most sought-after alcohol in the city this season. “People have always come to Woodside Inn for beers but we see an increase in demand as those who have classic drinks such as whiskey and rum also change sides. White Wine Sangrias come a close second as women who come in groups order Sangria pitchers or lemony cocktails such as Mojitos and Caprioskas,” says Pankil Shah, partner, Woodside Inn.

Photo illustration/ Amit Bandre

Mihir Desai, co-owner at The Big Bang Bar and Cafe outlets in restaurant-rich areas of Bandra and Oshiwara and Masala Zone (Bandra and Dadar) echoes the thought and tells us that men, especially corporates prefer chilled beers and beers towers, more so with the game season on. People in the 30-plus age group prefer fresh fruit Sangrias and Margaritas.

Town House Cafe
A line-up of some of the favourite customer picks this summer at Town House Cafe in Fort. Pic/Shadab Khan

“The summer season is a great time to kick back and relax with fresh fruit Margaritas and Sangrias. Wines are a staple favourite with women in summer, and a fresh fruit cocktail is the perfect antidote to the rising temperatures in our maximum city,” reveals Desai. Sunny Sara, owner of Cheval (Kala Ghoda) confirms the move to beer, “To beat the heat most people have been opting for chilled beer. Keeping this in mind, we are offering deals on beer for the full IPL season. From collegians to corporates, all are pro beer.”

Woodside Inn outlets
Beer has always drawn in crowds at Woodside Inn outlets, though women prefer gulping down sangrias. Pic/Sameer Markande

Edward Wang, owner, Ren (Bandra) tells us that guys prefer chilled beers while girls choose fruit cocktails. Their highest-selling option is the Frozen Lime Margarita.

What women want?
Women have always loved cocktails, and Caprioskas, Mojitos and Long Island Ice Teas seem to be a huge hit with them. “Summers are a time when we see a lot of groups who visit bars together to have a chilled beer or cocktails. Mostly, corporate and males (25 to 35 years old) prefer a chilled mug of beer or an ice-cold pint to turn down the heat and Monday blues. Our summer special Coffee Shots (coffee with whiskey: this drink tastes very much like a spiked cold coffee), priced at Rs 100 per shot, sell extremely well,” adds Apurva Padgaonkar, partner, Tight Pub and Bar (Vashi).

Beer Slushies at Olive, Mahalaxmi offers something new to beer drinkers
Beer Slushies at Olive, Mahalaxmi offers something new to beer drinkers

Though women seem to be giving a fight to let beer be called a man’s drink, “With Mumbai’s heat escalating, we get a lot of office-goers, male and female, aged 25 to 40 years who love kicking back with Rock music and a chilled mug of beer or beer-based cocktails. Pitchers, draughts and pints — beer in all forms is a favourite!” shares Ravish Shetty, co-founder, Roadhouse Bluez (Andheri). Shetty tells us that fruity Sangrias, Cosmopolitans and Fresh Watermelon Mojitos are a favourite with women aged 25 and above.

Auriga sees its customers ask for fresh fruit cocktails as a healthy option

Craft is the way
Another Andheri eatery, Jamjar Diner whose main clientele comprises expats, corporates and people from creative professions, gets orders mostly for Sangria pitchers, sparking wine pitchers and champagne pitchers. Locally-brewed craft beers (they stock beers from Gateway Brewing Company) are also asked for.

Off The Street Gola at Copa mixes Indian summer memories with alcohol

Talking about the popularity of Sangrias, Dharmesh Karmokar, director of Nom Nom and Silver Beach Café tells us, “Patrons prefer Sangria when the weather is warmer because it’s served cold and has a light taste. Although few also prefer Ricard (mostly Europeans).” Nom Nom also sees orders for Sake Bombs that are made using beer and sake.

Cheers to health, really!
Though downing drinks is not necessarily good for one’s health, people still prefer counting calories and ingredients to add a healthy edge to their night out tipple quotient.

“Watermelon Virgin Mojito is a part of most tables during summers. It comprises of Vitamin C and A and comes with the right dose of salt and sweetness. This is fairly popular among calorie-conscious people since it has dietary fibre too. Our Fruit Shots are draw too. These shots are a blend of seasonal fruits such as strawberry, melon, kiwi, and apple, and will make one feel hydrated and fresh,” says Saurabh Tendolkar, lounge manager, Auriga (Mahalaxmi).

“As awareness increases towards diet and health, people have become cautious about their drinks; they prefer it to be healthy and calorie-free. Hence our summer coolers with exotic fruits are popular,” shares Harshal Lanje, assistant general manager, #TAG: South East Asian Cafe & Bar. Sanchos outlets in Bandra and Colaba too sell fresh fruit Margaritas made using mangoes, watermelons and kiwi and are prepared in Mexican style.

Expat favourite
Olive’s Bandra outlet sees several expats drop by for locally-brewed beer. Popular favourites across the city like Sangrias, Mojitos and Caprioskas (mango is the seasonal favourite) win the battle with this category as well.

Their outlet in Mahalaxmi is currently running the pop-up of Goan restaurant, Thalassa, and rather than just beer, restaurant goers ask for their Beer Slushies: Honey and Ginger Slush, Peach Slush and Cranberry Slush, deputy manager, bar operations, Ketan Thakkar tells us.

Classic cocktails such as Martinis too get an interesting summer twist and this is welcomed by tipple lovers, the Cucumber and Fennel Martini, and Raw Mango Martini are sought after by both women and corporates at Khar eatery Nido.

Winners’ list
While everyone agrees that beer sales rise during summers, the spirit sells well throughout the year too. But a marked difference witnessed in the ordering patterns has been with cocktails.  Mumbai’s tipplers order cocktails, especially fresh fruit cocktails the most in summers. “Beer sells all year but our fresh fruit cocktails, such as Coconut Caprioska, Malta Orange and Basil Margarita, Watermelon Martini, have sold a lot more this summer as compared to other months. People who usually down straight drinks also order these cocktails,” Anuja Jatkar and Avi Mittal, owners of Town House Cafe (Fort) pitch in.

Gaurav Dabrai, director of Copa (Juhu) has seen a similar trend and it spans among orders by different age groups, “While beer sales jump every summer, we’ve seen a marked increase in cocktail consumption. Sangrias are consumed particularly by groups of women.

Our Fresh Tangerine Martini and the Cucumber Martini find favour among the slightly older crowd (25 to 40 years old), such that we are serving it in pitchers since the last couple months.” Dabrai adds that Caprioskas and Mojitos as well as premium beers are popular with our corporate clientele. “Off The Street Gola and Fresh Tender Coconut Water are popular across all age groups. On most days at Copa, you’ll find one of these on almost every table,” he vouches.

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