Editorial Team

A formidable partnership for the Indian beverage industry, Third Eye Distillery, the parent company of award-winning Stranger & Sons Gin, has acquired a majority stake in Countertop India. With the idea of elevating bar culture on home ground and leading the industry towards innovation, Third Eye Distillery will amplify and enable Countertop’s vision for India to actively participate in the international bar landscape!

Founded by bartending veterans Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran, Countertop is a consultancy focused on developing the F&B industry, right from setting up bars on par with global standards to advising spirit brands and helping them achieve market success. The name ‘Countertop’ was inspired by the area of the bar where all the action happens and both Pankaj and Arijit were motivated to focus on the finer details of the bar world. They conceptualized Countertop together as a step in this direction along with leveraging their experience and network in the Indo-Asian and global bartending community to create a better bar ecosystem and facilitate local as well as international brands to smoothly navigate the beverage landscape in Asia. From launching a ready-to-drink cocktail brand called Mr. Jerry’s to starting Bar Tesouro (World’s 50 Best Bars list at no. 65), Pankaj and Arijit have also helped a handful of brands find their feet while providing online training to hospitality teams across India through Countertop. Their well-renowned bar consultancy program has helped set up brilliant Indian cocktail bars and beverage programmes eg. Fig & Maple – Delhi, Hoots – Delhi, Uno Mas – Mumbai etc.

Countertop India was envisioned as a means to drive attention towards all aspects of the drinking experience in a bar which perfectly coincided with Third Eye Distillery’s vision for the Indian beverage landscape. Founded by Sakshi Saigal, Rahul Mehra and Vidur Gupta, Third Eye Distillery was the first to explore contemporary style gins in India with their flagship spirit, Stranger & Sons, which has garnered praise and recognition across the globe. Stranger & Sons was declared one of the 8 best gins in the world in 2020 by the prestigious IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) for winning the ‘Gold-Outstanding’ medal, the first Indian gin to do so.

With the overarching idea of elevating cocktail culture in India and embracing unconventionality, the team at Third Eye Distillery launched India’s first distilled cocktail (Perry Road Peru) which was a massive success and with their highly anticipated upcoming collaboration with Four Pillars distillery in Australia, they’ve proven to be a complete game-changer in the Indian spirits market! Third Eye Distillery is also pioneering the sustainability movement in the Indian spirits landscape through their most recent partnership with ecoSPIRITS platform which will introduce low waste, low carbon spirits packaging technology in India and make this closed-loop distribution model accessible to all, helping third-party brands meet their carbon goals.

Through this partnership, Third Eye Distillery aims to enable and accelerate Countertop’s growth and uplift the Indian bar industry through training and education. In the upcoming years, they will focus on creating a portfolio of imported brands to fill gaps in the beverage landscape and open global standard bars in major metro cities and tourist destinations in India. They will work together to grow the ecoSPIRITS footprint in India, moving the Indian spirits market towards a zero net carbon trajectory and helping the country achieve its sustainability goals!

“From our mutual appreciation of cocktail culture, knowledge and experience of the global beverage industry and shared vision to elevate bar culture in India, we found the Third Eye Distillery team to be on the same wavelength as us which was quite interesting. With their financial acumen and risk-taking approach towards innovation, both Pankaj and I are extremely excited to see how this partnership will propel our aspirations faster than we’d imagined!” says Arijit Bose, founder of Countertop India.

Sakshi Saigal, Co-founder and Director of Third Eye Distillery had this to add, “We’re thrilled to have the Countertop team on board and we’re really looking forward to channelling our creativity into setting up exceptional bars across the country! The one thing we know for sure is that this partnership will definitely be instrumental in taking India’s cocktail culture to the next step.”

Besides working with spirit brands, imparting beverage knowledge to hospitality teams as well as consulting and building brands and partnership bars that will enhance bar culture in India, Third Eye Distillery is looking to cultivate a culture of innovation and collaboration on home ground along with Countertop. This partnership will pave the way for developing a more extensive consultation wing across India for bars, creating a community that will become a force to reckon with in the international bar world and lay the foundation for making India a more conducive market for new brands and upcoming talent!

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