We caught up with four personalities of K-town, divided by profession, but united by spirit, to get an insight of their exciting booze stories. See what Rabin Shrestha, Executive Director of REEF Restaurant and Lounge Bar, Prakash Bhandari, Business Development Manager of Idea Shop, Rockstar Abhaya Subba Weise, and Randeep Shah, Marketing Manager of Karma Lounge and Bar, had to share with us.
At what stage did you start drinking?
Rabin: It was in my early 20s with my peer group.
Prakash: It was in one of the parties with friends, and I was around 18 years old.
Abhaya: I was 18 years old, and it was during Dashain. My father is an amazing person. He let me drink in front of him, saying it’s better to drink in front of him rather than behind him.
Randeep: I don’t drink. Drinking keeps you off your senses, and you have no idea what is happening around you.
Which is the brand of alcohol you like the most? Why?
Rabin: I’m actually a whiskey person. I usually stick with the same brand for around two years, and then change into some other brand. Chivas and Cherry are some of the brands I prefer, but lately, I’m more into Black Label.
Prakash: I’m a whisky person. I drink scotch. I’m not a big fan of bourbon whisky. I usually drink beer and whisky, but I take rum during winters.
Abhaya: I like red wine, mainly Merlot. Actually, the world of wine is really vast. People often say they this particular wine, and there are so many brands, so on an overall basis, I like red wine.
Randeep: For other people, JD and Coke is in trend, but I think people should try Dalmore and Coke, because Dalmore is one of the finest, and goes really smooth.
Which, according to you, is a good drink and a bad drink?
Rabin: I feel good brands are the good drinks, the ones that are distilled properly. They usually don’t give as much hangover as a low quality drink, which is the bad one.
Prakash: A good drink is the one that is not adulterated, and doesn’t give you excess hangover later on.
Abhaya: For me, a good drink is the one you drink when you’re happy or celebrating with your loved ones, and a bad drink is the one you consume when you’re sad or depressed, which brings you down and gets you addicted to it.
Randeep: The one that gives you the least hangover. Usually, the higher brands are good ones, because they give you the least hangover. I’ve seen that people in Nepal drink to get smashed, rather than to enjoy the moment. Here, people usually order drinks like Ruslan Vodka, whereas, in the U.S. people prefer lighter ones.
If you had to choose two friends to drink with, who would they be? Why?
Rabin: It would be with my business partner. He becomes a really jolly person when he drinks. And also, I would drink with some other good friends. Belonging to the Newari culture, we used to drink local drinks as “shagoon.”
Prakash: My childhood friend Kuldeep Rai! Drinking with him is a different and comfortable experience, because it doesn’t have to be an event. We don’t even have to talk, because we have entered into that comfort-zone with each other where although you’re together, you don’t talk for hours, and it is fine. Another is Sujan Devkota, a friend who gets really jolly, super energetic, and super fun to be around when he drinks.
Abhaya: Yuden Koirala, my friend from childhood! We talk about our past, present, and future, as we’re friends ever since we were toddlers. Next would be with my band members. They’re really nice people to be with.
Randeep: I’d most probably not drink. Even my friends wouldn’t force me to. But, hypothetically, if I ever drink, it would be with my very close childhood friend Saksham Shrestha, and another one would be my friend Furba.
What is your choice of drink when at home and at a bar? Does it vary?
Rabin: Not exactly! It’s usually the same, but when at a bar, you can try different drinks like shots and cocktails that can’t be made at home. But for whisky and all, it’s the same at home and at the bar.
Prakash: It depends on my mood. When thirsty, I like to drink chilled beer, else I prefer scotch or whiskey. Most importantly, I try my best not to change my drink once I start, and also try to avoid Coke to keep myself from getting drunk. Alcohol has active and passive parts, and because of sugar in Coke, the veins in our brains remain active, and that is one of the reasons why we get drunk.
Randeep: Putting it in soft drink way, I’d go with mocktails. I have tried making liquors at home, though. I like getting people drunk, rather than getting drunk myself. I am actually from the States; we used to make a lot of fruit punches and martini, but for others. There are people who try to force, my friends don’t, but some other people, but you should know how to tackle. What I usually do to avoid it is take a whiskey glass and put Coke and ice in it and walk around, it looks like a JD and coke. That way people will not force you to!
Which is your favourite cocktail? Do you know how to make it? Do you have any experience making it?
Rabin: I love mojito, I learned it actually when I was in Singapore. I used to do bartending, I was sure I wanted to open a restaurant, so I took training, and I make really good mojito, I give tips regarding it to my staff, and also, I have not officially introduced my own recipe or any twists in the menu, but with friends occasionally I make different drinks.
Prakash: I’ve tried making them. I can make a lot of them. I’m not a big fan of cocktails, but I prefer old fashioned ones, also mojito, papparinos in summer. When I used to own a bar in Thamel, I made it.
Abhaya: Mojito, it’s refreshing and doesn’t get you drunk, I make really good martini!
Randeep: For others, martini with olive! I have made it. It is very cool. Cool to say and cool to make. Makes you feel like James Bond.
If you were a cocktail, which one would you be? Why?
Rabin: Cosmopolitan, I see a lot of girls drinking that.
Prakash: Long Iceland iced tea! It’s a bit of everything, comprises of what I am, Jack of everything.
Abhaya: Sex on the Beach, it’s important for people to open up about sexuality, and so people get used to the idea of what it is, and not get the idea of it mixed up. Sex is basically what makes things politicized, it makes men and women think that they are adversaries. I know it’s pretty philosophical!
Do have any funny or embarrassing experience of being drunk?
Rabin: Blank next morning, not knowing where you are.
Prakash: Funny!! Once 8-9 years ago, I was not so used to drinking, one of my friends got wildly drunk, I was drunk too. But he was lying on the ground, lot of people showed up, so the police came and took us, but dropped us in mid Thamel. We gave him lemon, he was so violent. We still talk about that day!
Abhaya: Every musician has gone through a dark phase, when they drink a lot. I’ve gone through it too, I used to drink a lot. But about one of my band members, he once he got drunk and passed out on the couch. The next morning, I had drawn a moustache and all with nail polish all over his face. He was shocked.
Randeep: My good fortune, I haven’t had such experiences before, because I don’t drink at all. Actually, that is one of the main reasons I don’t drink; you don’t know what you’re going to do. I’ve seen some crazy stuff people do when they’re drunk. I’ve seen people have alcohol poisoning to the level of hospitalisation.
If you can roughly calculate, how much money might have you spent on drinks till date?
Rabin: 30-40 lakhs, you want to be nicer when high, when you own a bar, you’ve got to do things, sometimes give free drinks to people, and also, friends come over to your place!
Prakash: 8-10 lakhs.
Abhaya: A fortune! I have been treating friends; they come home, 30 thousand gone in one night! Most embarrassing part is that you spent so much, and you don’t realize it until the next morning when you feel so guilty over spending so much.
Randeep: You have to offer or treat others, though you don’t drink, so maybe a small fortune. 30-40 thousand on a typical day!
What is your say on the drinking tendencies in Nepal, among youth, middle aged, and seniors? Do you think we lack drinking etiquette? Have you had such encounters?
Rabin: They should know their limits and know what they’re drinking. Some become so violent when they drink and do stuff they’ll regret later on.
Prakash: Yes, we really lack drinking etiquette, people drink and get violent and all that drama.
Abhaya: Here, people drink to get drunk, rather than for enjoying the time. And that’s really bad.
Randeep: Yes, although people are becoming more aware with time, still it’s not the etiquette but the mentality. They drink to get smashed, rather than having fun. That is why people get into a lot of fights, almost every party.
Should 18 be the legal age for youths to drink? What is your message to them on drinking responsibly?
Rabin: I think it should be 21—the legal age to drink.
Prakash: 21, because not everyone can handle drinking at the age of 18. The particular person should be responsible for themselves, people these days are career oriented, so they have better understanding. My suggestion—if you are okay without drinking, don’t. If you can handle, and for socializing, it’s okay.
Abhaya: It is usually 21 abroad, but the parents let them drink after 16, and that’s a nice thing to do in front of them. People will find ways to drink anyway, yes age limit is necessary. It makes it easy to control them as parents. Bars should also be responsible, instead of pubs shutting down at 10, the people should be aware.
Randeep: I think minimum age limit should be 21. That is how it is in most of the countries abroad. There should be a proper licence or identification system in Nepal. It is slowly happening in Nepal.