Ace lensman, cigar enthusiast, sneakerhead, and the co-founder of Svami Drinks, Aneesh BHASIN juggles many hats. He founded one of India’s first online apps for alcohol called Hipcask before co-founding Svami Drinks, India’s first premium brand of Indian tonic water. He is a gentleman of fine tastes and many accomplishments and it was a pleasure to catch up with him over a brief tête-à-tête.
What inspired you to produce tonic water in India?
As a gin and tonic drinker myself, I was tired of Schweppes and saw so many better options when I traveled abroad. At the same time, there was no premium non-alcoholic beverages in India – be it tonics, ginger ale, etc.
What’s the ideology behind Svami Drinks?
The idea with Svami is to create the most relevant and definitive portfolio of aerated beverages, catering to both – the alcoholic drinker and the sober curious. We make our own recipes and bottle in house, which is first for any such product in Asia.
After ginger ale and tonic, what’s next?
We just launched the Svami Soda, and we’re soon launching a completely new line of products which again, would be the first of it’s kind in Asia.
What are the biggest impediments to the growth of tonic water in India?
It’s fair to assume that tonics will be linked to gin consumption and India is still very low on gin numbers. There is excitement in this space and as gin consumption grows, so will tonic consumption.
If not tonic water, what other mixers do you give in to?
I do enjoy a lot of drinks with soda!
How does your love for watches, sneakers, and cigars mix with Svami?
We ultimately want Svami to be a lifestyle brand and not a commodity. That distills down to being a part of many subcultures and I think an appreciation for better drinks, food, lifestyle etc all go hand in hand so my interests and Svami fit very well.
What is your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?
So many choices! Don’t think I can narrow it down to one but my favorites would be a good gin and tonic, tequila tonic, Hanky Panky or some IPA!
What does the Mandala on the Svami Tonic crown cap represent?
Svami asserts it’s Indianness via the Mandala, the spiritual symbol for the universe across several native religions and a key element of our packaging. After all, who can resist a drink blended with cosmic juju?
We also wanted to stay away from the cliche Indian names and branding elements.
What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in this field?
It’s a fantastic time to be in this industry, craft spirits seem to be the most exciting in terms of new opportunities and hopefully, with growlers and craft beer rules getting relaxed, that’s another space to look out for. Whatever you get into, please make sure you are always learning and up to speed not only with what’s happening in India but globally.