Tequila Takes Center Stage: The Rising Star of India’s Drinking Scene

From Party Ender to Party's Soul: Exploring the Agave Spirit's Surging Popularity and Versatility in India

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Tequila used to be the drink that signaled the end of a party, with its traditional salt-licking, shot-taking, lime-sucking routine. But not anymore. Now, it’s enjoyed in various ways – neat, on the rocks, with soda, and as part of cocktails beyond the classic margarita. This shift has made it the fastest-growing alcohol segment in India.

In the past year, sales of tequila nearly doubled in India, reaching about 123,000 cases (each containing nine liters), up from 68,200 cases in 2022. This surge reflects a significant increase from the pre-pandemic period, when only 38,950 cases were sold in 2019. According to data from global alcohol market analysts IWSR, tequila’s rise has been remarkable, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hina Nagarajan, Managing Director of United Spirits, notes that tequila, once a negligible category, has now become highly popular. United Spirits recently invested in Pistola, a local agave-based spirit brand, further highlighting the industry’s growth.

Tequila, derived from the agave plant native to Mexico, is the most sought-after type of agave spirit in India. Other variants like mezcal and pulque also have a presence. The market has seen a significant expansion, with the number of agave products increasing from less than a dozen in 2020 to nearly thirty-three today, including recent launches such as Don Julio by Diageo and 818 by Kendall Jenner.

Millennial drinkers, with their increasing disposable incomes, have embraced tequila, drawn to its versatility in cocktails and its widespread availability in restaurants. This combination of factors has propelled the spirit’s popularity in India’s evolving drinking culture.