The VICE Guide to Right Now

Indians Are Learning to Make Alcohol as Liquor Stores Stay Closed

As personal booze stocks run dry amid the coronavirus lockdown, even prices of country liquor with dangerous amounts of methanol have gone up.
16 April 2020, 1:00am
Indians Are Trying to Make Alcohol at Home as Liquor Stores Stay Shut During Lockdown 1
Photo by cottonbro / Pexels

This article originally appeared on VICE India.

As India extends its lockdown until May 3, even the most seasoned drinkers’ booze stash seems to be running dry, fuelling a huge demand for booze on the down-low. However all those who want to brave these uncertain times with some liquid courage are now realising that the spike in prices for illicit alcohol are also not for the faint-hearted. Which is why, Indians across the country are now googling “how to make alcohol at home”, making the subject a trending topic. From homemade mead to wine fermented from rice, Indians are trying to master some home remedies that they can use to drunkenly drown their sorrows.

This is because even while there is now a grey market of people trying to sell booze by posing as milkmen or marketing it on Instagram, not everyone can afford the exorbitant prices or the risks that go into procuring something the government has not deemed as an essential commodity. And as the illegally distributed liquor is seized from an increasing number of wine shops, the premiums to justify the risk of selling alcohol have risen. In fact, prices have become so high that people who desperately need an alcohol fix are even resorting to spurious homemade country liquor with large amounts of methanol, like hooch or desi daru, which is notorious for poisoning and taking the lives of thousands of poor people who can’t afford branded liquor. Some say that while they don’t mind shelling out for a branded bottle of booze to make their dalgona pegs amid the lockdown, they have grown suspicious of premium brands being spiked with undistilled liquor due to their different taste and hence want to remain safe by brewing their own batch at home.

Liquor store shutdowns across the country have prompted wine store thefts, violent withdrawal symptoms and even deaths by suicide, leading to some states choosing to keep these shops open.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.