The rise of Indian drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, has been one of the great success stories that is worth cheering every chance you get. From just a handful of companies and distilleries a couple of decades ago to more than 100 different brands, the journey of Indian drinks has been nothing short of astounding. To celebrate these brands and commemorate India’s 73rd Independence Day, here is a list of drink brands you should know about – from beers to tea and coffees to cold-pressed juices, gins, tonics, whiskeys and everything else.
1 – Amrut
Let’s begin this list with Amrut Whisky, one of the most well-known names in the whisky world as well as the brand that put India on the global map for producing world-class whiskeys.
2 – Desmondji
Did you know that India produces its own tequila? Well, you can’t legally call it tequila since it’s not made in Mexico but Desmondji’s agave-spirit is known to be just as good as any tequila you can get your hands on.
3 – Greater Than
Greater Than‘s impact on the craft gin scene in India is probably unparalleled. Known for reviving the gin space in the country, it’s also made waves with its other brand Hapusa, which is arguably the best sipping gin in India today.
4 – Stranger and Sons
With a list of botanicals as refreshing as its gin, Stranger and Sons has been winning hearts and minds of gin lovers across the country and world. The most recent feather in its cap came when it won ‘Gold-Outstanding’ at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2020, with a score of 98 out of 100!
5 – Paul John
Paul John occupies a special place in the hearts of whisky lovers in India and the world. It’s latest range of whiskies featuring zodiac signs has been winning accolades and more fans with each new tasting as well.
6 – Moonshine Meadery
What Greater Than did for gin in India, Moonshine Meadery is doing for meads in the country. With a range of enticing flavour combinations, the makers behind Moonshine Meadery have no stone unturned into turning mead as a viable alternative to beers.
7 – Cerana Meads
Started by two women, one of whom was pregnant with her son when the brand was being conceptualised, Cerana Meads is the other cog in the Indian mead scene that has been quietly notching up fans ever since their launch. If you haven’t heard of them before, now’s a chance to sample their beautiful brews.
8 – Old Monk
We debated whether Old Monk should be on this list considering just how popular its story already is. But we also realised no list of Indian drinks is ever complete without mentioning the OG, sorry we mean Old Monk.
9 – Cabo Coconut Liqueur
Technically a white rum with coconut liqueur added to it, Cabo is probably the best gift you can bring from a visit to Goa for your friends. Unless you consider Tickle Gin, the latest offering from parent company Adinco Distilleries.
10 – Svami
Svami is the most well-known tonic water brand in the country with its range of different flavours and its latest product 3 Cal Tonic. The company is also going to launch its range of RTD products soon.
11 – Bengal Bay
Beautiful packaging aside, Bengal Bay is one of the most well-known tonic waters after Svami. We’re waiting to try them before announcing our verdict.
12 – Terai Gin
The latest among a slew of gins to hit the Indian market, Terai has made all the right noises since its recent launch. We’re eagerly awaiting their arrival in Maharashtra.
13 – Jade Forest
Jade Forest‘s natural mixers promise zero artificial ingredients across their range of products. Their soon-to-be-launched Elderflower Tonic Water has already caught our eye.
14 – Woodburns Whisky
Another fantastic addition to spirits from Goa, Woodburns Whisky is a great new whisky to add to your collection made with 100 per cent Indian ingredients. This dark whisky is well worth a shot.
15 – Black Bow Whisky
Black Bow Whisky is a blended luxury whisky crafted in the Himalayas known for its nutty notes that makes it one of the most distinct whiskies in the market today.
16 – Tickle Gin
Adinco Distilleries Tickle Gin is yet another reason to be thankful for 2020. This horrid year would have been infinitely worse if it weren’t for some of the best new craft gins that have launched in India, Tickle Gin being the latest.
17 – Mixtale Beverages
Mumbai-based Mixtale Beverages is one of the lesser-known beverage companies who have a great range of non-alcoholic mixers and tonic water that are right to get the party started at any time.
18 – Cazulo Premium Feni
No visitor worth his salt has returned from Goa without tasting feni, the local spirit made from cashew nuts. Now, with Cazulo Premium Feni, the local drink has got a brand and a bottle that’s about to go places.
19 – Sula
Yes, when it comes to Indian wines, the name Sula just cannot be missed. It’s probably no exaggeration to compliment Sula for bringing about a wine revolution in India, paving the way for exciting new brands to join the Indian wine story.
20 – Fratelli
One of the bright spots of Indian wine, Fratelli produces some of the boldest and best wines in the country. If you haven’t tried their reserves yet, be it Sette, M/S or J’noon, you’re definitely missing out.
21 – Reveilo
At the turn of the century, husband-wife duo Yatin and Kiran Patil went back to their ancestral roots in Nashik and planted the first wine varietals to join the wine revolution in the country with Reveilo Wines. To know the rest, just pick up a bottle of Reveilo to reveal its mysteries.
22 – Charosa
Nestled in Nashik, the wine capital of India, Charosa is known to be the first to use open tank fermenters for its winemaking process. The 230 acres of vineyards further help to transport you in the middle of verdant grape fields from where you might find yourself difficult to get away.
23 – Grover Zampa
The Grover Zampa story is as old as the 1960s when Kanwal Grover first decided to get into wines. When Kanwal decided to begin production of Indian wines in 1994, he brought eminent personalities from France and the world to set up Grover Zampa, now one of the best wineries in the country.
24 – Soma
Known for its impeccable facilities at its ‘wine village’, Soma wines may be difficult to procure at times, but they are nevertheless a shining beacon of the great Indian wine story.
25 – York
The family-run York winery is yet another exciting addition to Indian wines made possible by the vision of entrepreneur Lilo Gurnani who first came up with the idea of York winery in 2004 and had everything set up to go by 2008.
26 – Vallonne
With more than a decade since its first harvest, Vallonne is known for pioneering various wine varietals in its decade-long existence. We can’t wait to see what’s ahead for them.
27 – Krsma
Named after Krishna Prasad and Uma, the duo behind Krsma wines, this is one of the few breakout wines from Karnataka that’s made waves across the world winning many honourable awards. Known for using single varietals for all their wines, each harvest of Krsma promises a new taste.
28 – Doolally
Every craft beer lover has made the trip to a Doolally outlet in Maharashtra. Known for introducing not just various different types of craft beers but also allowing pets on their premises and board games on their tables, Doolally has been nothing short of revolutionary for the Indian F&B industry.
29 – Great State Aleworks
Nakul Bhonsle, the founder of Great State Aleworks, a production-only craft brewery, is known as one of the most prominent voices in the craft beer scene today. His brewery, on the other hand, is known for some exciting craft beer varieties.
30 – Bira
Yes, we had to add Bira to this list. After all, it was the first to recognise the need for an alternative to Kingfisher and other imported beers in the country. Today, Bira is on the verge of getting funds to the tune of millions of dollars. What a journey!
31 – King’s Beer
Another perennial favourite for beer lovers has been Goa’s ubiquitous beer brand King’s. Long associated with the sunshine state for its cheap price and distinct taste, King’s beer has a fan following that can put established brands to shame.
32 – Simba
Speaking of Goa, Simba is the cool new hip child of the state’s beer industry. Founded by Ishwaraj Bhatia and Prabhtej Bhatia, Simba’s great packaging and taste is an instant crowd-puller.
33 – White Owl
White Owl’s journey is the story of craft beer in the country. Starting from a single outlet in Mumbai to creating multiple brands under its company portfolio, White Owl’s range of beers are as exciting as its journey.
34 – Kati Patang
Kati Patang’s story starts from Boston Consulting Group where founder Shantanu quit his job, meanders to Bhutan from where the brand’s water is sourced before coming to India to create waves in the craft beer scene when it launched in late 2018.
35 – Goa Brewing Company
We love what the folks at Goa Brewing Company are doing so much that we wrote all about them earlier. Suffice to say that the direction of their craft beers is the one we’re following with our noses and taste buds all the time.
36 – White Rhino Brewing Co.
Ever thought you would taste beers from Chambal some day? If you haven’t already, White Rhino Brewing Co. let’s you taste beers made straight from ex-bandit territory. What a story that would make over a few pints eh?
37 – Buho
Buho is the new kid on the block in the craft beer space with a very promising start. We’re pretty sure more folks will learn of them and their beers soon.
38 – Bee Young
Bee Young screams millennial in everything, from it’s bright yellow cutesy packaging to being the first canned strong beer in parent company Kimaya Himalayan Beverages LLP’s portfolio that also includes Yavira beer. Both brands will celebrate their first anniversary next month.
39 – Kadak Craft Beers
From its eye-catching logo to its signature Kadak Session Pale Ale, Kadak beer portfolio makes for an amazing discovery of craft Indian brews.
40 – Gateway Brewing
Named after Mumbai’s iconic Gateway of India, Gateway Brewing is one of the more prominent names in the craft beer scene of the city known for using only malted wheat and malted barley in their beers.
41 – Toit
From Bengaluru to Mumbai, if there’s one name that all craft beer lovers know on the tip of their tongue, its Toit. The brewery is known to appease to all kinds of craft beer fans and has proven its mettle consistently since the day of their launch.
42 – Susegado Beer
It might not be advertised everywhere in Goa, but Susegado, the beer named after the state’s laidback lifestyle, is a refreshing change when you want to try something new. We’re especially taken by their Kokum Gose, their take on the German Goslar.
43 – Kimaya Brewing Co
As Covid-19 continued to play havoc around the country, the good folks at Kimaya Brewing Co in Pune became the first in India to launch their own craft beer station. It’s craft beer range is as daring as its choices and is worth trying any time of the year.
44 – Effingut
It’s bold branding notwithstanding, Effingut is a worthy contender for one of the most popular craft beer companies in India. Don’t just take our word for it. Try some of their beers and judge for yourself.
45 – Tag Beer
Tag Beer is one of the newest entrants in the beer space in India that claims to be ‘premium beer made for those who’re young at heart’. We’ll wait to hear more from this one.
46 – Sleepy Owl
Best known for revolutionizing how Cold Brew can be made, Sleepy Owl is made for the home coffee lover who values simplicity and efficiency over everything else.
47 – Araku Coffee
Araku Coffee didn’t just bring the region near Visakhapatnam to the notice of coffee lovers, it also carved its way to international fandom with its flavourful roasts.
48 – Bili Hu Coffees
Bili Hu in Kannada signifies the white flower that heralds coffee blossom. Founded by Bharat Singhal, Bili Hu is known to stock coffees from not-too-common estates, giving coffee lovers more choices to explore from.
49 – Blue Tokai
Yep, we can’t keep the OG out of this list, can we? Blue Tokai showed Indians what coffee truly meant outside the Cafe Coffee Day setup and ushered in the third wave of coffee roasting in the India.
50 – KC Roasters
Koinonia, or KC Roasters as its called now, is one of the more famous coffee roasters in the country with a wide variety of estates from which it sources coffees on a regular basis. We’re still salivating over their Purple Project, 2020’s greatest coffee hit so far.
51 – Corridor Seven Coffee Roasters
The brainchild of Mithilesh Vazalwar, India’s first Aeropress champion and expert Q-grader, we covered the story of Corridor Seven in this story. Suffice to say, we aren’t the least bit surprised to see them go from strength to strength.
52 – Curious Life Coffee
Curious Life Coffee will celebrate five years of existence next month. This small coffee roastery has some of the most offbeat blends you can seek out as well as a very helpful brew guide using various equipment on its website.
53 – Dope Coffee
Been to any Social’s resto-bar? Of course you have. If you’ve ever had coffee at Social’s, be assured that all the coffee would come from Dope Coffee, who have one of the most eclectic packaging of any coffee brand out there. They’re also one of the few coffee companies to offer a subscription plan.
54 – Kapi Kottai
Almost every coffee lover swears by Kapi Kottai’s mind=blown coffee. Founded by Akshay Vaidyanathan and Esarella Fernando, Kapi Kottai shows that even one great coffee can be enough to create a cult following.
55 – Black Baza Coffee
Known for their fair trade practices, Black Baza Coffee calls itself an activist company that makes some radical coffee. Check out their sustainability initiatives and how you can join them through their website here. We’re quite impressed with their reusable khadi coffee filters.
56 – Kohi Roasters
A small-batch coffee roastery based out of Bengaluru, Kohi Roasters has caught the fancy of coffee lovers with its outstanding coffees.
57 – Quick Brown Fox Coffee Roasters
Delhi-based Quick Brown Fox Coffee Roasters employ Q-grade roasters to work on their specialty coffee, making each of their estate coffees worth a try.
58 – Devi Coffee
Devi Coffee has been known for bringing innovations like whisky-barrel and old rum-barrel coffees to discerning consumers yet it’s current highlight might be a specially designed Wendell Rodricks label called Catwalk. Coffee doesn’t get any rarer.
59 – El Bueno Coffee Roasters
Founded by Manvi Gupta, El Bueno Coffee Roasters offers a great blend of single origin as well as blended coffees. Take your pick from the variety on offer and chuckle at some of the fun names of the coffees such as Bloom Bae and Hello Monday!
60 – Savorworks Roasters
Savorworks Roasters single origin blends Fruits Bomb and Honey I’m Nuts are some of the most popular coffees amongst aficionados. They also have a handy list of equipment on their site to get you brewing.
61 – Rage Coffee
Infused with plant-based vitamins, Rage Coffee is a whole new way of experiencing your favourite morning brew. Although it’s an instant coffee, the mouthfeel and post-drinking experience is unlike your normal Nescafe shot. Available in many different varieties, Rage Coffee is for those who want to try something different but not commit to coffee beans just yet.
62 – Bolt Coffee
If you’ve ever doubted coffee’s capacity to wake you up, Bolt Coffee is for you. This small 60ml shot of cold brew, available in different flavours, is enough to power you through your groggy afternoons when you feel you just can’t do anything!
63 – What If
What If coolers are meant for those days when you take your hydration seriously, which should ideally be every day. Their range includes flavours such as Peach Green Tea Cooler, Apple, Blueberry and Lime Herb Cooler among a couple of others. The company’s other product 1947 seeks to be a healthy alternative to Red Bull as a naturally caffeinated drink.
64 – Raw Pressery
Raw Pressery is the poster kid for the cold pressed juices segment in India. It’s stupendous rise is a beacon of hope for the healthy drinking space and its various different flavours are the icing on a very successful venture.
65 – Antidote
Antidote is more than just a cold pressed juice service. With diet subscription plans and the option of creating your own super-juice box, Antidote’s liquid diet might just be the thing we need to detox while we WFH.
66 – MyGreens
MyGreens delivers cold-pressed juices in various flavours, with some of them even containing live enzymes to boost the body’s functions. If you’ve been looking for a new brand of juices to try out, give them a shout.
67 – Freshmill Oils
When we’ve spoken about cold-pressed juices, can cold-pressed oils be far behind? Bengaluru-based Freshmill Oils produces various different types of cold-pressed oils such as coconut oil and groundnut oil along with a range of honey and cow-based products.
68 – Swa Artisanal Syrups
A cold-pressed juicery that began in 2016, Swa found its maximum revenue coming not from health freaks but from bars! From juices the company moved to syrups and found success with its unique blends such as Pineapple Bird’s Eye Chilli, Summer Berries and Tamarind Shikanji to name a few.
69 – Paper Boat
Known for delivering nostalgia in its unique packaging, Paper Boat is a juice company that you can always fall back on whenever you’re craving a drink that you just need to have, be it Aam Panna or Thandai or even plain old fruit juice.
70 – Tea Cups Full
Tea Cups Full is run by a tea planter’s family and second-generation tea tasters. Offering a great list of teas from Dooars, Darjeeling and Assam along with their own signature blend, Tea Cups Full is a great place to try some of the best teas in the country.
71 – Tea Trunk
Founded by tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda, Tea Trunk sources tea directly from farmers before being turned into unique blends such as Lavender White Tea, Matcha Green Tea and Apple Spice Black Tea among many others.
72 – No 3 Clive Road
No 3 Clive Road is where founder Radhika Chopra’s father was born so it’s appropriate that nostalgia plays a big role in this tea company’s success. Whether it’s their Aurangzeb Blend or Jodhpur Blend, history is never too far away from your tea cup with No 3 Clive Road.
73 – The Hillcart Tales
With blends as unique as Apple Strudel, Dark Limon and Blood Orange, you might be forgiven if you didn’t believe The Hillcart Tales is a tea company. Make no doubt though, as founder Ashutosh Ghosh’s brand, named after Hillcart Road in Darjeeling, is one of the more exciting Indian tea brands today.
We know we’ve missed out on many other worthy names from this list. It just goes to show the sheer diversity and strength of the Indian beverage market. We’re sure if we were to do this again next year, we’ll be able to curate a whole new list along with some exciting new additions.
Until then, we wish you all a Happy Independence Day and urge you to help small businesses by going #vocalforlocal.
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Priyanko Sarkar is the Founder Editor of Gurgl.in. He has been a writer for over 15 years and this site is his attempt to document India's growing beverage sector with impactful and interesting stories. His favourite drink is Vietnamese Coffee and his favourite spirit is Turkish Raki.