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Apr 25, 2012 10:16 PM

Chennai - The cost of drinking out in India

Old India hands would probably know this already, but this post is for those who're first-timers to India. Drinking out can be expensive - especially at hotel outlets. For e.g., see our drink bill at I-Lounge, Asiana Hotel below:

Note that the original amount (as per menu prices0 was INR 1754.20.

Then, we add the taxes, including 58% VAT for Wine/Liquor tax, on top of 14.5% VAT for food, etc.

Final bill? INR 2835.00!

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  1. Interesting.

    Yes, spending 1/10th of the monthly salary for that young chap starting out ( would be pretty up there for that chap. By comparison, how much is a fine dinner at the hotel restaurant? How much was that dinner you had at Dakshin or Southern Spice?

    Of course, those same drinks in the US would be quite a bit more in a hotel bar or nightclub (2-3 times as much), a bit more to x 1 1/2 to x2 times at a "bar bar" or pub...

    1 Reply
    1. re: huiray

      The dinners at Southern Spice and Dakshin averaged about INR3,000 per head.

    2. To their credit, bars in India served good drinks, unlike the watered-down stuff I get in many, many places in Singapore or KL.

      4 Replies
        1. re: huiray

          I'd not actually seen any toddy shops in Chennai (maybe I'm in all the wrong areas?) nor toddy listed as a drink choice on the bar menus.

          1. re: klyeoh

            Huh - apparently toddy/toddy-tapping is currently banned in Tamil Nadu! (Various articles etc can be readily found via Google) Wikipedia claims the ban there varies according to politics :-) . It's available in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, etc... :-D

            1. re: huiray

              That explains it then! Amazing!

      1. I was shocked by this when I visited Chennai as well and gave my co-workers back in Bangalore "hell" for not pre-warning me. I almost got into an argument at the first place we had dinner and a bottle of wine when the bill came... until we figured out it was the tax. Bangalore didn't have a similar level of taxation on alcohol.

        When I got back to Bangalore I was told alcohol production and tax was a massive source of revenue for the Tamil Nadu government... which makes sense.

        1. Very random question: what spirits does one find at bars in Chennai? how are the cocktails? any Fernet Branca to be had? thanks

          1. This isn't even that bad. Sky Bar in Bangalore has Mayfair London level prices. You pay ca. £25 for a double measure of most decent import whisky there!

            1 Reply
            1. re: JFores

              Scandalous! Anyhoo, am going back to Chennai for a couple of weeks next month.

              Planning to spend a weekend in Pondicherry *after* watching it featured in "The Life of Pi", and also curious about the former French colony's Tamil-French Creole cuisine. I also read that Pondicherry does *not* levy alcohol tax like the rest of Tamil Nadu does :-D