Now that Independance Day is here, and we have all done our bit for the nation by tagging each other to India flags, let me make a point that is not jingoistic, but is of immense importance to national affairs.

Few years ago, the Indian government announced that Tea is going to be made the National Drink of India.

What really happens when something is declared as National? The tiger is our national animal, and no one gives a damn. Hockey is our national game, and has as much fan following as Tushar Kapoor. Does declaring something as ‘National’ give it some special status or benefits? If yes, why is hockey in a dilapidated condition? Why do we only talk about tigers when a telecom company reminds us how many of them are left?

Is there any purpose to declaring something as ‘National’? Or is it just a symbol? If it is, I have a sincere suggestion.

Make Old Monk the National Drink.

Before you make an ‘o’ of offence with your lips, here is my explanation as to why Old Monk truly deserves the title.


1. Not everyone has tea: Tea or chai is not a pan-Indian drink. People down south swear by coffee and there is no single standard of chai in our country. Also, in urban milieu, most youngsters frequent coffee shops, making the whole coffee shop culture a part of our lifestyle today. The humble chai has to face stiff competition from terrible tasting cousins like herbal tea, black tea, and masala tea. Where is the ubiquity?

The ubiquity lies with the smiling buddha sadhu.



Throughout the country, in ramshackle wine spots, bootleggers’ pockets, the most expensive bars, the rooms of students attempting IAS Exams for the ninth time, the Research scholar frustrated with life, the rich and the poor, the Ramu and the Shamu, and the Seeta and the Neeta – Old Monk enjoys a loyal following throughout the country. McDowell’s Rum is there, but it will always be like Lakshmana – the best rum when Old Monk is not available.

Old Monk: Available everywhere, even in heaven.
Old Monk: Available everywhere, even in heaven.

2. Tea does nothing to you:Remember that film where the hero downs a cup of chai and rushes to face the bad guys all alone and beats them to pulp? Or that other film where the heroine offers the hero a cup of chai and then they sing a wild song in the rain?

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Well, it’s for a reason. A chai is an everyday drink. You have it instinctively, without knowing it. And not once, but twice or thrice a day. It’s become such an integral part of lives, that there’s nothing celebratory about it anymore. Which defeats the purpose of a ‘National Drink’ anyway. I mean, then why not have the stray dog as the National Animal?

But look at Old Monk – Rain or shine, whether you passed or failed,whether the girl said ‘yes’, or filed an FIR against you – the square bottle of Old Monk just sits there, waiting for you to open the cap and the smell of sweet vanilla to waft into your senses.

Because of some guys in Boston in 1773, having a ‘Tea Party’ has different connotations. But say you’re having an Old Monk party, and look at the smile appear on the person’s face.

3. Old Monk is pucca desiTea has its origins in China. Imagine what Mamta Banerjee would say if we made something that originated in China, as India’s National Drink.

Plus, there are a thousand variants of tea today – herbal tea, soul tea, green tea, purple tea, and organic tea – half of them tasting worse than piss. (No, I didn’t taste it. My grandfather was Morarji Desai’s neighbour. Now get-lost!)

But anyway, the point is that tea has been had by people all over the world for centuries now. There’s nothing Indian about it. Also, if chai were to be declared the National drink, I could understand. But ‘tea’ as such, is quite vague – considering that we are the only country to have milk in our teas.

But Old Monk, my friend, is by Indians, of Indians, for Indians.

Owned by Mohan Meakin Pvt. Ltd, Old Monk is the third largest selling rum in the world, and India’s most exported liquor brand.

4. Old Monk doesn’t suck up to you: Unlike other brands,Old Monk doesn’t suck up to you with stupid surrogate ads asking you to make it large, with a stupid *Golf Accessories and Music CDs* written below it.

Old Monk has never had to do any advertising, and has consistently been the largest selling rum in the country for decades now. It has no cricketers, no film stars, no Bollywood villain endorsing it (like this video, where Amrish Puri unabashedly promotes Black Dog). It doesn’t need to buy an IPL team or a Formula 1 company. The owners don’t party on cruises and then not pay their staff for months.

It produces a product. People like it, they drink it. As simple as that.

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5. Old Monk doesn’t want to change the country: Since the last two years, ‘change’ has been the buzzword. Without knowing what exactly we want to change, the whole country has been asking for change. The software engineer wants change because he saw a picture on Facebook about the crores of corruption, the middle aged want change because a spiritual guru demanded it, and the autowallahs ask for change because they hiked their rates by 3 rupees due to the petrol hike, even though they run on CNG.

Do you remember those Tata Tea ads that ask people to wake up? I found them stupid.

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And with the kind of companies we have, you can imagine how mad the brands are going to go if chai is declared the national drink. I can imagine a Tata Tea Jaago Re campaign calling it the desh ka chai.

We don’t want anymore of that bull. Old Monk is just a drink, and professes to be no more than that.

And finally,

6. It is simply the best bloody drink around: Those who say they find Old Monk rough, and sip on vodka, are simply lying. Old Monk tastes better than all the vodkas of the world put together in a fridge with Katy Perry. Beer aficionados will beg to differ with me, but unless it’s Carlsberg, you are a little far from the truth.

Since its launch in 1954, Old Monk has remained the same. Vatted for seven years, and maintaining the same taste and bottle shape. In fact, there is a group called COMRADE – Council of Old Monk Rum Addicted Drinkers and Eccentrics.

So what is it about Old Monk that makes it different?

Is it the beautiful pirate bottle? Or the vanilla essence in the taste? Or is it the lack of any hangover in the morning the next day? I don’t know. May be its a combination of all the three, and more.

May be because it’s affordable. And when a few friends get together, Old Monk stands for a little fun, a little nostalgia, and some good time.

For all this and more, I propose that Old Monk be made the National Drink.

Hic !

(Feature Image Courtesy: Outlook)