The Most Popular Indian Liquors To Drink

A beginner’s guide to the spirits from India

Due to strict cultural and religious restrictions regarding alcohol, India’s drinking culture is different from the rest of the world.

Traditionally, liquors are something men would consume in the context of ceremonies and special events.

Today, drinking is more commonplace, but the traditional liquors prepared for special events have remained popular. These beverages often use local ingredients, such as herbs, cashew nuts, or palm tree sap.

Indian Liquor

Read on to learn more about the most popular Indian drinks.


Feni is a traditional liquor from Goa. It’s a distilled liquor that uses cashew fruit or toddy palm from coconut trees.

The result is a strong drink with a fruity aroma. You’ll also notice hints of grass and citrus, especially in cashew Feni.

You can enjoy Feni over ice or mix it with some sugar syrup or soda. Feni is one of the most popular Indian spirits because it doesn’t cause hangovers since cashew apples are an excellent source of minerals.

Toddy/Palm Wine

Palm toddy or palm wine comes from fermenting the sap of palm trees.

Fresh coconut palm sap is a common ingredient in non-alcoholic beverages, but the sugar content turns to alcohol after a few days, resulting in kallu or palm wine.

Coconut tree wine is a popular country liquor in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, but some parts of the country ban it.

Ludgi/Rice Liquor

Grain wine is a popular beverage throughout Asia. It’s a common drink in the north of the country, but you can find beer or handia that uses this cereal throughout India.

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Ludgi became popular in the rest of India after appearing in the 2013 movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

This liquor, known as ludgi or chaang, is a traditional drink that involves boiling and fermented rice mixed with herbs. There is no distillation process.


The Mahua tree has been a source of food and traditional remedies for centuries in India.

It’s no surprise that Mahua liqueur is among the most popular Indian spirits. These trees produce sweet flowers that result in a drink with unique smoky and floral notes.

The British banned Mahua flowers during colonial rule, but several states have taken steps to legitimize the production of Mahua.


Arrack is a distilled liquor that is popular in the south of the country. It gets its rich golden-brown color from sugarcane, but the liquor also includes coconut sap, rice, and fruits.

It’s a popular ingredient in punch and cocktails like Tusker, Kandy, or Milk Punch.

Royal Mawalin

Royal liqueurs are a staple of Indian drinking culture. Traditionally, royal families would have their own secret recipes for their signature drinks.

Royal Mawalin originated in Rajasthan. This complex heritage liquor uses ingredients like dates, herbs, and spices. People describe the taste as bitter, and some compare the complexity of this liquor to blended scotch.


Apo is a fermented rice alcohol that comes from the northeast of the country. It’s still a major element of festivals and religious celebrations, where you’ll often see people drinking apo out of bamboo shoots.

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Apo is somewhat of an acquired taste, but it’s one of the traditional Indian spirits you should try.


Read on to learn more about alcoholic drinks in India.

What is Indian moonshine called?

Tharra is a popular moonshine throughout India. This drink uses fermented sugarcane. Due to restrictions on alcoholic drinks in India, moonshine is an important part of the country’s drinking culture.

What is the most popular alcohol in India?

Beer remains the most popular alcohol consumed in India. Wine and whiskey come next.

What is traditional Indian liquor?

There are different types of traditional Indian liquors. These beverages often use grain or palm sap, and people would originally drink them during festivals or ceremonies.

Final Thoughts

Indian liquors have a rich history and are often the result of local traditions and celebrations. If you’re curious about traditional Indian spirits, the liquors listed above are a great place to start!

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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