Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Covid19 changed everyone’s idea of ‘chilling out’. As bars got shut, Rishabh Bhatia smelt a business opportunity – cocktail lovers would still need their fave drinks! Eyeing these mixology buffs, Bhatia quit job and decided to pursue his passion for premixes and drinks, and set up Bab Louie & Co (in 2020). The company delivers premium premixes crafted with ancestral American recipes to give that much-needed lift to your drinks.
“From the first-order of a pitcher to selling 2,000 bottles of premixes in a span of 75 days, it has been an enjoyable roller coaster ride,” says Bhatia. “Our pre-mixes and bitters come loaded with roots, barks, berries, herbs and spices. Essentially, these are botanical mixes that make the best cocktails even if you’re not the best behind the bar,” he adds.
Soon, going beyond the realm of taste and treat, Bab Louie introduced Bar Kits, Pitchers, and Bitters. “That’s because with bar-hopping becoming an extinct activity, we felt it’s essential for your home bar to be perfect,” opines the young turk. Excerpts:
When did you get attracted to cocktails as a profession?
It all began when I was in London doing a marketing course. I developed a taste for cocktails and started sneaking out to various bars appraising myself of what’s in and chic. Simultaneously, I also ventured into making new flavours and mixes in my own kitchen. Soon, I began sharing my recipes with others, and as friends began liking my mixes the idea of Bab Louie was incepted.
How supportive were your parents?
Initially, there was little support. So, I went about it in a clandestine manner, moonlighting after office hours. Looking back, I feel that was only natural since a venture as unique and unheard as this is barely lucrative. I plunged into it as I really wanted to do it. With time Bab Louie started getting recognised and generating money, and my parents too realised the potential it had, and things got fine.
What challenges did you encounter en route?
There was a lot to pick on as I began my entrepreneurial journey – learning about the craft, the recipes, the supply chain, the bottle types and shapes, and n number of different things – that I am still trying to absorb and actualise. My aspiration was to see people’s drinking habits and bar-settings and change those for the good. And, that’s what I did, and am still doing; I’am still learning. From mixologists to help us bring the best recipes to our customers, to anyone who could give us insightful bits to improve, Bab Louie touches base with anyone and everyone who can help us perfect our art and science.
Does Bab Louie have a certification, like an ISI or FSSAI?
Yes, all of Bab Louie’s products are FSSAI approved. Additionally, we also dedicate our resources in a batch-produced manner that does not exceed 100 litres so as to ensure the quality of the end product. Also, Bab Louie products put to use 15 select, special botanicals that come together to bring the flavour that our homies cherish and treasure.
Where is the brand placed?
Bab Louie is currently the only India brand providing handcrafted, non-alcoholic bitters to cocktail lovers. Bitters are a space which is largely dominated by foreign brands, and which predominantly provide for alcoholic bitters. We wanted it to be different, and thus, we came up non-alcoholic bitters which is something extremely unique at the moment.
Another reason for venturing into bitters was to appropriate and bring to the fore the massive legacy and tradition of Indian-grown and sourced spices and herbs, their medicinal attributes, so that we could offer not just taste but also health to our drinks.
How do you reach out to people with your products?
Being into consumer goods, Bab Louie followed a flexible D2C model from the very early on. Our mantra, ‘Add Soul to your Spirit’, depicts us as a brand that both engages and appraises its customers about its products, the industry and history. Besides, word of mouth too helps get across our stuff across to cocktail lovers who want to try out different things and want to break the monotony of set-in-stone tastes by embracing new permutations and combinations in their products.
What’s the USP of your products?
We deliver premium non-alcoholic cocktail mixers crafted with ancestral American recipes that are a product of the finest of ingredients, extracts, and essentials without any synthetic additives, colours or stabilisers. Our bottles are topped with a sturdy wooden cork because we believe that like your spirits, your flavours, too, should stay with you for long without losing its essence, so our Homies can show them off time and time again. Further, our pricing is in congruity with high-end beverages, which can be placed along our end-users bar shelf and not refrigerators.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
For the next five years, we want to apply our abilities into further strengthening our foundations and working harder to become a constant at our Homies home-bar shelves. Besides, we want to keep this incessant learning process going by opening up our business to new people, ideas, and interesting opportunities.