LAHORE: A shortage of whiskey and bad weather are hampering arrangements for New Year’s Eve parties across the city tonight.
The price of Black Label, one of the most popular brands of whiskey among Lahoris, has doubled since a consignment destined for this city’s black market for alcohol was confiscated in Islamabad a month ago, said bootleggers. A bottle of Black Label is now selling for Rs8,000-9,000, they said.
A party planner for a ticketed event tonight said that the whiskey shortage is being compensated for with vodka and wine.
“We’ve been getting Chivas Regal [another scotch brand] but that is now running short too,” he said.
A private party organiser said he had cut his guest list down to close family and friends because of the exorbitant cost of alcohol.
A bootlegger who has been supplying liquor to people’s houses in Lahore for 10 years said that alcohol shortages were common at this time of year, but this time the shortage was severe.
“Liquor runs short prior to New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day every year but this is the worst whiskey shortage I have seen,” he said.
An organiser with an event management company that is hosting its first event at a farmhouse in Bedian tonight said that he had asked friends in Islamabad to bring him “the good stuff” from contacts in the capital before the party. “We are stocking up on beer and red and white wine here,” he said.
Another bootlegger said that most customers did not want to buy Russian vodka, since the labels on the bottles were faded and their clients might think the product to be of poor quality or adulterated.
“Most bootleggers in Lahore only sell the good quality stuff because the customers are high-end and experienced enough to tell the difference,” he said.
Meanwhile, several organisers were forced to make last minute arrangements as the rain, forecast to continue over the weekend, ruined plans for outdoor parties. Salman Ali of Insomnia said he was negotiating with hotels in and around Gulberg to host his party since their plan for an outdoor event had to be cancelled.
Imtisal Zafar of Verve, another event management company, insisted that the whiskey shortage and rain would not affect celebrations of the new year.
Lahore’s event management companies including Sammy PR, Carousel and Manior’s have organised at least seven parties in the city. However JnS, another popular company, has decided to organise its New Year’s Eve bash in Karachi this year.
Parties are also to be hosted at Gulberg restaurants Ciro’s Pomodoro, Verandah Bistro and Cosa Nostra.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2010.