Conversation with IWBS – Angad Soni

Angad SONI, the man leading the Sepoy & Co tonic “regiment”, is a young man of old-age refinements. He started off in business (something entirely un-F&B related) and somewhere down the line, the passion for drinks and taste veered him onto this current path. And no matter how rickety the path of pursuing F&B in India, he has always been sure of his choices – be it red wine over white, or peaty single malts, or a great G&T over all else! Passion and dedication in the sphere of drinks egg him on everyday as also the gratitude of consumers at large who have accepted Sepoy well. What next…we never know, but we can be sure Angad is already halfway there conceptualising it!

How and Why did you decide to dive into beverages?

Honestly like everything in life, the idea to get into beverages happened by chance. On a flight from Delhi to London. When I ordered a G&T to get into my holiday mood. And behold I got served a can of Fever Tree Indian Tonic. I looked at my wife and said, wait, what and why don’t we have this tonic in India. Why are we only consuming tonics made with artificial flavours and ingredients?

As a consumer of really good food and spirits, I found it interesting to study the industry of mixers and understand the potential in India. 

Is their a drink or combination you aren’t fond of?

I am not a fan of cola… And here lies another opportunity, but India is not yet prepared for it.  

What is one Tonic Water flavour you think works very well and one that you won’t try?

Let’s face it, a classic Indian tonic with balanced citric flavours is a champion but in India we are very bullish on the Mint Tonic. When we started working on this flavour, I was extremely confident about the use in the Indian market. 

There will never be a tonic water flavour that I won’t try but there are flavours the I have tried before and will not drink them again, like – chocolate tonic water

Why are mixers such an undersold category in India?

It has never been explored before, to my surprise. Not by the large soft drink giants and neither by the spirit industry giants. And on the ground level the knowledge of their basic existence did not exist. 
This beautiful industry was and still is referred to as – “chasers”, which I personally hate and hope to permanently change to be referred to as – “mixers” 
How can gender equality be brought about in the beverage space?

I have seen so many talented individuals in the bar/alcohol (on trade and off trade) space and this industry like many others will reward the talented, be it men or women. If you see talent in anyone, nurture it and allow them to grow. This will only result in uplifting the industry. 

Define sustainability for you at Sepoy & Co.?

No plastic. Not in our bottle or labels or packaging. I am hoping to see the recycling industry for glass evolve in India, the way it is set up across Europe. We will work closely with companies to grow our business sustainably. We are already in conversations with young entrepreneurs who are recycling glass bottles. Unfortunately since the recycling of glass bottles is so unorganised the costing becomes out of reach for a startup like ours. 

Any advice for aspiring F&B professionals?

Aspiring F&B professionals have chosen to walk on this path and I salute them for making this decision. Have fun and learn. Only if you enjoy it, will you ask questions and learn. This will only improve your talent and skills. Practice just like a sportsperson would, trying to play cricket, football or even chess. SHINE!!!!!! 

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