“Yo, where do you want to drink today?”, has been Bangalore’s favorite question Wednesday - Saturday for 2 decades. And when the answer is “Everywhere”, that’s pub hopping — a pub experience where everyone is hopping with excitement at the start and crawling by the time midnight rolls around. Coincidentally, pub hopping is also called pub crawling which may or may not have something to do with the physical actions of hopping and crawling.
WHAT’S THE CURRENT SITUATION LIKE?
According to a 2018 report, Bengaluru has seen a 50% surge in pubs over the last four years. The reasons:- growth of the IT industry and subculture; the increasing popularity of draught/tap beer; and a simple lack of other places to be past 7 PM where alcohol is present. The pub city of India, Bengaluru, is home to the largest microbrewery (Byg Brewski Brewing Co.), and the second largest microbrewery (Hoot) in the country. And this comes despite the fact that less than 30% of alcohol consumed in the city is beer.
Certainly this must mean Bengaluru is ‘the perfect place’ for pub hopping. Well, yeah... NO. The ground reality is different. The number of pub tours in the IT capital has only been on the decline. This in spite of the number of pubs only increasing. Pretty much every space offers happy hours. So what happened?
GENTRIFICATION OF BENGALURU’S PUBS?
The biggest highlight of a pub-hopping tour isn’t grabbing a few drinks in four-five places, it's grabbing a few drinks in four-five places. Any pub which is part of a curated pub crawl is meant to offer diversity, particularly in three segments: i. Ambience; ii. Menu; iii. Music.
While the pubs of today all look and feel different, a strong case can be made about similar menus and music. The dramatic growth of franchises doesn’t help either. The popularity of the Western drinking culture and habits has seen the rise of complex menus, sophisticated cocktails and exclusive merchandising. What’s gone are the fresh fruit with neat whiskey, rasam as a sobering drink and the ‘mix of the day’ made with whatever was available at the local bakery.
With an ever-growing ban on live music and live entertainment, Bengaluru’s popular pubs are forced to choose from only the millions of tracks available online. Somehow most of them end up with the same 50 songs, which play on loop. Monday-Sunday. The infinitesimal odds of this happening each year can make any statistician (human or alien) go mad. It also makes common people, who just want a drink after a tiring day of labor go crazy.
To boil it down to two sarcastic, exaggerated questions - “How can it all be the same?! Why is it all the same?!”
PUB HOPPING IS SIMPLY TOO MUCH WORK!
The implications of the two questions bring us to the most annoying part of pub hopping today. It's too much work. Especially if the next place is almost the same place you’re at.
But this is not a sad article with between-the-lines social commentary on Bengaluru’s dying cultural diversity. At least not the next paragraph which provides cool ways you can go explore multiple bars in the same day, a.k.a pub hopping.
Pub Hop Idea 1: Have a drink at a pub with an adjective in its name.
Pub Hop Idea 2: Drink at places with numbers in the name.
Pub Hop Idea 3: Try to find the best LIIT in Indiranagar within 24 hours.
To further emphasize the point, the very concept of pub hopping is to explore the different subcultures of the city. And maybe the subtle differences is where the future is at. You’ll have to hop to find out.