Gin Explorers Club’s first Mumbai event held at the beginning of this month at Mahalaxmi Racecourse turned out to be more flustering than fun.
“Have you been standing in the queue for long?” I heard a familiar voice calling my name. I turned back to see an industry colleague who was with a group of his friends trying to find a way to reach the Hendrick’s gin counter for a drink.
“It’s been 20 minutes, and since I can’t use this paid coupon at other counters, I have no choice but to wait here for my turn,” I replied. I inched ahead a bit to see if the queue had moved further. As I turned back, I saw a crowd that had begun gathering in an additional line adjacent to the demarcated lines. My acquaintance had left to find a drink at another bar.
After half an hour of standing in the queue and choking in the air filled with sweat and the odour of 50 drunk or sober Mumbaikars surrounding me at that moment, I got myself a cocktail with gin, ginger ale, and probably two more ingredients I can’t seem to remember. It was 8.30 pm at the Gin Explorers Club when the event had reached its capacity.
Keeping the Mumbai heat, open space, and hour of drinking in mind, I reached the venue with a few of my friends at around 6 pm. After a long walk from the gate to the event venue, I was looking forward to trying out some cocktails that I could write about, meeting industry friends, and having a good time with my friends. It all started well until I saw some members from the organising team whisper, “They should stop the entry. Even with an increased ticket price of Rs 3,000, people are still pouring in.”
Interestingly, when the booking for the Mumbai event opened on the ticketing site a month back, it had a much lower price, and the rates started climbing, leading up to the event date. The pandemic-induced lull in Mumbai’s nightlife broke with the Gin Explorers Club festival. People gathered in thousands to celebrate what looked more like an end game or perhaps just the celebration of the beginning of endemic times.
However, it was impressive to see the brand owners and bartenders seamlessly handling the pressure. A big shout out to the gin brands, the representatives, and bartenders who worked relentlessly for the two days trying their best to present some note-worthy cocktails to the gin drinkers. Here are a few that stood out for me. The Tamras Seasonal Gibson with delicious, pickled brine, Terai x Bar Tesouro Summerlike, Jade Forest and Stranger & Sons’ turmeric-infused cocktail, and the best cocktail of the evening was ‘Doja Vu’ priced at Rs 700. The cocktails at the event were all priced from Rs 500 onwards. Eventually I braved the sea of people to reach the Roku counter, but they were out of stock, and the bar had shut at 8 pm. After which, we couldn’t gather the courage to visit Tanqueray, Greater Than gin, Samsara, Jaisalmer, Jimmy’s, or Gordon’s.
Unfortunately, even the music lineup (Culoe De Song, J Babe, Kayan, Lynston, Madstarbase Sindhi Curry, and a few more) that was the best part of the evening couldn’t make up for the soggy nachos and stale dumplings from the food counters.
Hopefully, the organisers can focus more on crowd management and keep the ticket and cocktail prices reasonable enough for the guests to offer them an enjoyable moment at the next event.
Do you think this column was just a disgruntled rant? Then ask yourself if you ever enjoyed a party where you had to go bar hopping just because you couldn’t get a drink at the earlier bar?