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Craft spirits blend with high-end audio at For The Record, Goa's first vinyl bar

For The Record is an intimate space for vinyl geeks and audiophiles. While the drinks are made with craft spirits and local ingredients like tambdi bhaji, the food is not prepared in-house yet.

October 16, 2021 / 04:04 PM IST
For The Record only offers cocktails made with Indian craft spirits.

For The Record only offers cocktails made with Indian craft spirits.

Music reigns supreme here. Approximately 80 people can be seated in the inside room, veranda and courtyard combined, and listen to high-end audio on vinyl. That is how founder, Buland Shukla, an architect from Ahmedabad who loves music and creating spaces, describes For the Record.

A specially crafted vacuum-tube HiFi system enriches the listening experience, and is undoubtedly the highlight. Cocktails made using Indian craft spirits and brews, including the local feni, add to the flavour of the place.

How it all began

Working with natural building materials, Shukla specialized in architectural acoustics and has always been fascinated with sound. He adds, “I am a musician and play gypsy jazz guitar in my band, The Banjara Quartet."

Shukla was not willing to accept that Goa was only a place to party and bass was all that it needed. He was certain that people would appreciate the difference between vinyl and Bluetooth, and between solid state and vacuum tubes. Thus, he took the plunge with Audiophile Goa, a store with vinyl records and analogue equipment.

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"Once a week, in the store, I used to invite a few friends over, play music on vinyl, mix a few drinks for them," says Shukla. "I realized that a lot of people have a very rudimentary understanding of vinyl records, and they all assume that records sound like a scratchy old radio and that players are all with big brass horns. The first time people would listen to vinyl records in my space, the quality would blow their minds.”

It was out of this love for analogue and vinyl, and the desire to share this passion with like-minded music lovers that For The Record was born in January 2020. “Gen Z have grown up without ever listening to non-compressed or analogue music,” jokes Shukla.

Recreated the original

Vinyl bars were relatively unknown in India, but have existed for some time elsewhere in the world, especially Japan. These bars are typically small, and run by owners with a few local spirits and beers. The audio systems are the highlight and the owners usually create a welcoming space - inviting guests to come into their headspace for that evening.

Shukla travelled to see vinyl bars in Japan - where they originated - and has tried to faithfully stick by the driving principles.

Read more: A 'Goan' Gin And A Rice Whisky: New Additions For Your Home Bar

Indian craft cocktails

For The Record only offers cocktails made with Indian craft spirits. Buland was clear that since this was a passion-driven project, he would support other such people too, even though this limits his spirits menu. He believes “this pushed us towards creating a whole new range of cocktails with what we have at hand”.

Modern contemporary cocktail techniques with local spices and condiments like tephala, tambdi bhaji, local roots and flowers, dictate his menu. Bimli Bomb, Feni Maragarita, Flower Power (with mahua) are some popular cocktails, apart from the Mojito, Gingerita, Daiquiri. “I like to work with local flavours and most of my drinks revolve around that. Obviously, we have a dedicated section of Feni cocktails,” he says.

Shukla says he made everything from the circuit design to woodwork at For The Record. “It took me almost two years to come up with a circuit design for the tube amplifier,” he says.

Shukla says For The Record combines all his passions: working with electronics and carpentry, analogue equipment and quality sound, and mixology.

Read more: The Gin Makers Of Goa

Food focus to expand

Although For The Record serves food, it is not currently prepared in-house. “FTR is housed in a complex called Jukebox, where I have Audiophile Goa, my bakery Ferment-Station, a pottery studio and a hand-made jewellery store. Wood-fired pizzas will be added. Also, Ferment-Station, which has been a cloud bakery until now, will soon have a dine-in café, where the menu centres on fermented products,” says Shukla.

For The Record had to weather the pandemic, of course - Goa saw a surge in cases during the second wave.

Since then, Shukla says, “The response has been good, although we have been low-key and don’t even have a signboard. It works purely on word-of-mouth. We have managed to convert most regulars to feni drinkers. And now people who detested the very notion of this ‘offensive odoured’ spirit, come here especially for that. Drinks start at Rs 90 and go up to Rs 500. We wanted people to try new things without worrying about money and we will keep it that way. This allows us to cater to regular customers, as well as once-a-week-outing kinds.”

Sometimes, you need someone to push you a little beyond the existing parameters. Shukla says this has always been his mantra and it spurs him on. If all goes well, he is getting ready to open the second For The Record vinyl bar outside Goa, but he is tight-lipped about the location.
Mini Ribeiro

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