The benefits of the hefty drop in liquor prices will not be passed on to diners immediately, said restaurateurs in Kolkata.
Any reduction in prices of alcohol served at bars will happen after the “old stock” — bought at a higher price — is exhausted.
Most of the people The Telegraph spoke to said a dip in the rate was likely around Christmas.
“The existing stock was bought at the old rate. It is expected to last till the second week of December. After that, we would certainly pass on the benefits of the price reduction to our patrons,” said Anjan Chatterjee, veteran restaurateur who owns over a dozen outlets in the city that serve alcohol.
“The excise department has just announced the dip in prices. Over the next few days, we will get the specific calculations done. There are multiple ways to extend the benefits to diners — cheaper drinks or giving 1:1 offers on select brands in the cocktail menu,” said Chatterjee, the owner of Mainland China, Oh! Calcutta, Riyasat and Hoppipola.
Rajiv Kothari, the owner of Bar-B-Q on Park Street, also said that the existing stocks bought at a higher price would last “three to four weeks”.
“Eventually, we would definitely pass on the benefit to customers but cannot do it immediately,” he said.
Prices of several brands of liquor have fallen to a multi-year low in Bengal, following tax tweaks carried out by the state government. Going by the preliminary figures, the effect of the dip will be more on bottled in origin (BIO) brands. For example, a 750ml bottle of Chivas Regal blended scotch will cost Rs 3,500 under the new arrangements, down from Rs 5,400.
A 30ml peg of Chivas Regal now costs around Rs 500 at a pub in south Kolkata. After the eventual dip, it would cost a little less than Rs 450, said the owner.
The old stocks would have depleted faster without the night curbs, said multiple restaurateurs.
On paper, restaurants can operate till 11pm, from when the night curfew kicks in. But most eateries shut down by 10.30pm to allow diners enough time to go home.
“The 9pm-to-midnight slot was the busiest for bars before the pandemic. We hope that the government allows some relaxation in the night curbs,” said the owner of a bar in central Kolkata.
The restaurant owners are aware that unchanged prices might affect footfall. But selling alcohol from the existing stock at reduced prices would entail a bigger loss. “We have suffered a lot during the pandemic. Under-selling does not make sense now. By Christmas, the new stocks will arrive and we hope for a robust footfall,” said Gaurav Karnani, owner of Grid, a resto-bar in Topsia.