How Moksh Saini Of Mansionz By Living Liquidz Is Transforming The Way India Drinks
Men & Women of the Year 2022: Moksh Sani

The owner of India’s first experiential liquor store, Mansionz by Living
Liquidz, changed the way Mumbai buys its alcohol. Now, he’s trying to
transform the way India drinks

Wine is a living thing. It has to be allowed to breathe, and to evolve. And if you treat it badly, it perishes.” His appreciation for wine and its ever-changing personality is what led Mumbai-based entrepreneur Moksh Sani to name his alcohol retail business Living Liquidz. Today, the business spans 60 outlets across Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar.

 

However, that is not how it began. “My father started out with a standalone store in Sion in the 1970s. Back then, there was a lot of taboo surrounding alcohol. It wasn’t seen as glamorous, and women didn’t want to be caught dead buying booze at these shops,” he shares.

 

When Sani and his brother took over the family business in the early 2000s, their first order of business was to change the experience of buying alcohol. A whole rebranding campaign ensued and, in 2005, they launched the first Living Liquidz outlet at Hypercity, Malad.

 

“I wasn’t envisioning a simple liquor store. I wanted a space that was hygienic and welcoming, and staffed with certified professionals to educate customers. And I wanted it to be a place where instead of simply buying what they need and leaving, people came to learn, and appreciate what they are drinking.”

 

The rebranding was a roaring success, and Living Liquidz has now become the most popular alcohol delivery platform across Mumbai and beyond.

 

Sani’s wild ideas — which are often ahead of their time — and his ability to go through with them can be seen in the way he operates at work. One such example is of him introducing a mobile app that would allow people to let loose without stepping out of the door.

 

Many businesses — particularly those operating in the F&B space — found themselves getting gutted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants, bars, and wine stores were ordered by the government to remain shut through multiple lockdowns, resulting in a major loss of revenue. Living Liquidz could have gone the same way but for Sani, it was their moment to shine.

 

“Home deliveries were still being allowed so I thought, why not capitalise on that? We were already doing deliveries, but then we launched an app, which allowed customers to order alcohol and mixers, and have it delivered to their doorsteps without having to speak to anyone at the other end.”

 

Unsurprisingly, the move worked, because indoors had become the new outdoors, and Indians had taken to socialising within the confines of their homes. Living Liquidz ended up doing brisk business throughout a period during which many others were forced to shut down.

 

The pandemic also allowed Sani to take a step back, and reevaluate how his business functioned. For a man who appreciates the finer things in life, it only made sense for him to take what he’d built with Living Liquidz, and raise it up a notch. “Anyone can sell alcohol. What I wanted to sell was an experience,” says Sani.

 

This thought was what prompted him to start working on the concept for Mansionz, his luxury alcohol store brand that first launched in Mumbai, and eventually expanded to Pune and Bengaluru. Another store is in the offing in Goa, a state that is finding new footing for its quality F&B experiences, courtesy a spate of recent openings in the past year.

 

“I always wondered if there was a way to bring the nightlife experience to retail. We started brainstorming — we’d need staff that can educate customers, a tasting room, and a big space where we can showcase the best alcohol brands India has to offer. That’s how Mansionz was born,” he narrates.

 

Every Mansionz store is a marvel. The vaulted ceilings and luxurious interiors of the outlet in Mumbai welcome you into a space that features a street food-style pan-Asian eatery, an American brasserie, an open-air cocktail bar, all owned by Passcode Hospitality, another F&B brand. . The retail section is packed with labels, both homegrown and international, but the highlight is the store’s Tasting Room, which allows buyers to sample an array of brands before making their decision, with trained sommeliers and hostesses guiding you along the process. It also doubles up as a luxury gift store, with options such as florals, cheese platters, and personalised bottle engravings to choose from. Buying alcohol in India has never been more seamless.

 

Sani has gone beyond plain retail, having previously released 21 wine labels under the Living Liquidz umbrella. More recently, he helped launch Rock Paper Rum, a premium Indian rum that is available in two variants. But he’s dreaming bigger, and his plans involve catering to Indians’ evolving palate.

 

“I’ve always wanted to launch my own line. Indians now are more educated, well-travelled, and are thus open to trying new things. The mindset has shifted, and they understand that flavour is something you can experiment with,” he explains. He knows exactly what keeps people sipping, and is willing to put his money on it. “Rum will be the next gin, you’ll see,” he says.

 

But that doesn’t mean there’s no space for other drinks, he adds. He sees the immense potential of the homegrown craft movement, and he has been waiting for his moment to dive right in. “I think 2023 is going to be our year. We want to launch a brand in every segment, be it rum, vodka, or single malts. Soon, we will be introducing a cucumber-forward gin, Soci, in the market. I found that most gins in the market right now need to be paired with a mixer. Soci, meanwhile, will be a sipping gin, one that can be had on the rocks and is bursting with the flavour of cucumber,” he says.

 

Ever the visionary, Sani’s next big project is something that is closely tied to his hobby: making his own alcohol. “I love experimenting. But, right now, I don’t have the space. Whenever I feel like trying something new, I lease out a bottling plant, and get creating. But my dream is to set up my own distillery in the next couple of years. There, I will have my own space, and I can go crazy inventing,” he shares.

 

Images: Living Liquidz

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