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Destroy alcohol lying in bar for longer than eight days: Delhi excise dept to restaurants

Restaurateurs said this move will result in at least Rs 20 lakh worth of spirits going down the drain every month.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 29, 2019, 07.41 AM IST
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Restaurateurs said this move will result in at least Rs 20 lakh worth of spirits going down the drain every month.
NEW DELHI: The taxman is set to give city restaurateurs a hangover by setting a shelf life for the liquor they sell.

The Delhi government’s Department of Excise, Entertainment & Luxury Tax has directed hotels and restaurants to destroy alcohol lying in the bar for longer than eight days, a decision that restaurateurs slammed as arbitrary. According to a notification dated August 26, the move is meant to prevent pilferage and adulteration.

Restaurateurs said this move will result in at least Rs 20 lakh worth of spirits going down the drain every month.

“We welcome and understand all efforts of excise aimed at preventing bootlegging and adulteration. However, the current rules suggested will make it very, very difficult for the entire industry while hurting business substantially. These need to be reworked immediately and we are very happy to sit with excise and help as best as we can to put together a plan to prevent bootlegging,” said AD Singh, MD of Olive Bar and Kitchen.


“This is most arbitrary, and we have to destroy half my bar, which currently displays top shelf liquor that doesn’t sell every single day. By this logic, I’ll need to shut shop within a few months,” said a restaurateur on condition of anonymity.

The department said that no restaurant can keep alcohol on its bar shelf for longer than three to eight days, depending on the type of spirit and price.

Starting August 31, beer, wine, champagnes and alcopop will not be stored for longer than three days and hard liquor will not be kept for more than five to eight days, depending on its price band. Even a bottle of single malt whisky that didn’t sell entirely will need to be poured out within eight days.

“After the expiry of the time limit specified, any stock that remains unexhausted shall be deemed to have been consumed and will need to be removed from the bar counter,” the order said.

Complaints of Spurious Alcohol
“This liquor will then be destroyed within seven days of making the inventory entry,” the order said.

The shelf life starts from the time a bottle is issued by the storage unit of the restaurant or bar. Every bar or restaurant that serves liquor has a store on its premises and is required to keep track of alcohol issued to the bar in a logbook or register.

The excise department, which controls and regulates the liquor trade, said it had prescribed the time limits after receiving complaints of spurious alcohol. The department said the practice of first-in, first-out and the keeping of liquor bottles at the bar counter for longer than their normal period of consumption can be misused, and bottles can be refilled or adulterated.

A top city hotel that typically maintains Rs 2 crore worth of alcohol inventory may opt to reduce the number of brands it stocks to prevent throwing out unsold liquor.

“It is easier for a restaurant or hotel to say they don’t stock a particular variety rather than have to waste one that needs to be drained,” said another restaurateur.

One person aware of the development said the department had conducted raids across the city and had found adulteration, even in five-star hotels.

“The order is both good and bad. It could have been triggered by a recent raid in the basement of a top five-star hotel in the city, which was serving unauthorised alcohol,” the person said.

Calls and mails to the Delhi excise department did not elicit a response.

The order comes amid a clash between restaurateurs and app aggregators including Zomato, EazyDiner, Dineout and NearBuy over discounts offered to dine-in customers. Claiming that discount-led economics was draining their already thin margins, over 2,000 restaurants logged out of the Zomato Gold programme.

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