Somewhere up there is a cloud filled with single malt and big rocks of ice, which makes today a great day to reach for the sky. We know you’ve been trying.
Get ready to be airborne this weekend with the launch of Hipbar, a pilot app that allows you to buy a bottle of alcohol and consume it a peg at a time at partner bars across the city, with each drink being logged to the cloud. The sweetest thing: impressive discounts, exclusive to the app. Cheers from your angel('s share) investors!
Prasanna Natarajan, Hipbar’s founder, is a believer in continuity. Looking at his app is like facing a bar from which the mixers have all been Photoshopped out, leaving behind only the gold of malts and the sparkling crystal of vodka (even if some of this sheen does come from Royal Challenge and Smirnoff Green Apple). Log in, let it select your location, and browse each partner bar like it’s a booze shop. At Church Street Social, for example, we spot a twelve-year-old Lagavulin (stored at 27 degrees Celsius, with 57.7% alcohol content and 90 calories a peg, if you must know) with a mellow 450-rupee discount. Once we buy it, we’ll always have company at the bar: it’s held in reserve for us to drink from any time we visit.
Get ready to be airborne this weekend with the launch of Hipbar, a pilot app that allows you to buy a bottle of alcohol and consume it a peg at a time at partner bars across the city, with each drink being logged to the cloud.
Prasanna developed an interest in artisanal alcohol over the course of his travels as a high-flying corporate investor. Coming from alcohol-restrictive Chennai was another spur, he jokes: “The limitations taught me to really appreciate my drinks.” In 2007, he launched India’s first boutique spirits company, Sipping Spirits, perhaps best known as the producers of Resolute Pink Vodka. (You can buy it online at a bar or Hipbar’s partner wine shops, which allow you to call and reserve a bottle from their online menu to pick up at your convenience.)
“We came up the curve with Sipping Spirits pretty quickly, but there was still a need to innovate in an otherwise stagnant industry,” Prasanna says. “We have everything else up on a cloud. Let’s take our glasses along too.”
Hipbar has twenty-five partners across Bangalore including Watson’s, Social, Sotally Tober, Hangover and the Biere Club. We called Vamsi Reddy, partner at Three Dots & A Dash, for a sense of how this works for Bangalore barmen. “It allows me to put up premium brands that may not be fast sellers but do have exclusivity, and it also ensures repeat clientele,” he says. Fun! But wait. “The challenges will be plenty,” Vamsi warns, even if it is a “cool concept. We can only figure it out fully as we go along.”
Prasanna’s currently working on allowing you to port your bottle across bars that stock the same brands, and even use it in a different city — Hipbar rolls out to Mumbai and Gurgaon in some weeks, once Prasanna has finalised his partnerships in those cities, and ensured the Bangalore business is ship-shape. Beam us up, Scotch-y: we’re ready for a cool rain cloud of drinks.
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