Raising the Bar



CEO of Thirsty Beers and Thirsty City127, Akriti Agarwal followed her passion to the hospitality industry with no formal training and today helms one of most recognized microbreweries. 

Leading the way 

The business of beverages, especially breweries is largely a male dominated industry and when we met one of the few women who lead the business side of the company, we couldn’t help but be intrigued. Akriti Agarwal is the CEO of Thirsty Beers and Thirsty City127, one of the few women in the alco-beverage space, whose passion and enthusiasm for hospitality shines through. Her career path has always leaned towards hospitality right from her days as a PR Manager handling hospitality clients. “That is something that I inherently understand and I look at hospitality as a consumer first and then as someone who runs that business.  For me, everything has to be proper when it comes to hospitality and beverage. I’ve always enjoyed beverage as a drinking culture and experience rather than just getting drunk,” she says. 

 

Today Akriti leads the business for the Thirsty brand in general and the entire portfolio for BLiq Trading Private Ltd (founded by Vir Kotak) right from importing international beers to India to distribution, selling and branding. The company also imports its own brand of beers from Bosnia and runs a microbrewery business, which supplies beer to the flagship bar, Thirsty City as well as other bars and restaurants in Mumbai.  Ask her about being one of the only women in the business side of breweries and pat comes her answer, “It feels great but terrifying, tough, intimidating… “And while she does face her fair share of closed minds and comments questioning her presence at the bar, her favourite one is, “Oh you drink Whiskey!” But she also hears a lot of positive comments as well, and the one that thrills her the most is when someone comments on the quality of the beers and the lack of hangover next day.

 

Tales from the Bar

Travelling the globe and visiting bars in every destination, Akriti believes that bartenders have the best stories and the minute you strike a rapport with the bartender, the level of cocktails and service changes and becomes more personal. And that’s the culture that she wants to bring to Thirsty City. “We are a team of eight people on ground which includes the service and bar together and all eight are bartenders. So you can talk to anybody and have a great night. We have a lot of people coming into the bar alone, they sit at the bar, talk to the boys, they know who’s their favourite…” 

 

Aware of ever-changing nature of the hospitality industry, she ensures that Thirsty City changes its menu every quarter—that’s four seasonal menus with new drinks and food every year—to stay ahead of the curve.

 

The Secret 

The other innovative step was opening Remo’s, a speakeasy bar that started as a result of after-hours bar talk. “It was a conversation between my director, the bartender and me, after hours, and we said hey we have so much space as Thirsty City what can we do to effectively and strategically use that space and maintain standards. He said let’s do an exclusive members only speakeasy bar which has a story to tell and only cocktail driven.”  And so, the story of Remo a mill worker by day and bartender by night was crafted and a new speakeasy was born. Staying true to the speakeasy culture, entrance is by password only and even its presence on social media is discreet. With a heavy focus on cocktails, Akriti tells us that the menu is divided into two parts, one featuring six in house original cocktails and the other six cocktails crafted in collaboration with the best bartenders in Asia, each with intriguing names like Wabi-Sabi, Snows of Kilimanjaro and Cuncolim that is served in a coconut shell and uses all parts of it!

 

Delhi will have a shot at trying the beers and signature cocktails next year when Thirsty City opens its doors in the city.

 

Contributors:

Akriti Agarwal

An MBA in International Marketing and HR, this Delhi girl decided to follow her calling to hospitality and spends most of her time on a plane to Mumbai where her flagship bar is located.