The Excise Department of the Delhi government will modify its August 26 order, in which it had asked bars and restaurants to destroy liquor stock taken out of storage in two to eight days if it remains unsold, sources said.
The order said that beer, wine and alcopop be served within three days of being taken out of stock and placed on the bar counter. This duration is five days for Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and Foreign Liquor that costs less than Rs 1,500, and eight days for IMFL and Foreign Liquor costing between Rs 1,501 and Rs 6,000.
“The decision was taken to clamp down on instances of adulteration with cheaper liquor. But after receiving representations from restaurants and bar associations, as well as five-star hotels, we are planning to modify the order. They have made some points which are valid,” said an official who did not want to be named.
Five-star hotels are expected to be kept outside the ambit of the revised order, sources said. “Since most adulteration is seen in expensive whisky, cheaper liquor might be kept out. Also, no such complaints were received against five-star hotels. It was mostly from patrons of those establishments which claim to serve expensive liquor at lower rates that such complaints were seen,” an official said.
Representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) have raised issue with the Excise Department. The Indian Express could not reach the representatives despite repeated attempts.
The order had stated: “During inspections by the Excise department, it has been observed that liquor stock at the bar counter is not served in the order of their receipt from the store… It has been brought to the notice of the department that this practice of not following first-in first-out, and keeping liquor bottles at the bar counter beyond their normal period of consumption, has the potential for misuse through refilling and adulteration. The order also said that following the expiry of the time limit set by the department, the stock will have to be removed from the bar counter and destroyed within a week.”
According to officials at the excise department, whenever a bottle is taken out of storage of a restaurant or bar, it is marked as sold in the department’s records.
“We had received written as well as informal complaints that bottles kept in the bar for a long duration were being adulterated, and bar-owners were injecting cheap alcohol in the bottles. In one case, for instance, a Champagne bottle was checked out from the store in February but was still displayed in the bar… but a Champagne bottle is served as a whole. If the bottle is on the bar counter for so long, it opens up the possibility of it being refilled with cheaper liquor. Restaurants and bars must manage their inventory better,” the official said.