One of the most common questions I receive from travellers is about alcohol. “Can you buy alcohol in Morocco or it is forbidden by religion? Are there bars/clubs? Can women drink in the bars”? Of course, alcohol consumption in Morocco is a sensitive subject, but yeah, an exciting one to discuss.
Although by Muslims, alcohol is considered haram (prohibited or sinful), there are still plenty of Muslims who drink it. In Morocco, alcohol is available in many places like bars, restaurants, hotels and touristic resorts. Drinking in public is strictly forbidden, including outside terraces in the street.
People not only drink alcohol in Morocco but also produces their own. The capital of alcohol production is the city of Meknes. After French colonization, French converted Meknes city into the wine region. Now, Morocco is the second-largest wine-producing country in the Arab world.
In this article, I will introduce you to the most important facts about alcohol consumption in Morocco. As well, I will explain where and how to buy alcohol in Morocco like a local.
Where to buy alcohol?
In big cities, you can buy alcohol in many places. The most popular are small liqueur stores that are often hidden; you will not see the sign “Alcohol store,” the windows will be covered.
In all Morocco, you will not find the liquor stores in Medina; they are located outside the wall. In Marrakech, the alcohol shops are only open daily till 8 pm. In Essaouira, all alcohol stores all closed on Friday.
Places to buy alcohol in Morocco
– French supermarket chain Carrefour (separated alcohol section)
– Supermarket chain Atacadao (separated alcohol section)
– Specialised alcohol store chains Champion (cheapest one) and Victoria.
– Small local liquor stores without a name, with covered windows (smaller selection and often more expensive).
What to buy?
Wine and beer are the most popular beverages in Morocco. In the shops, the most popular beer Speciale cost 12 MAD (around1 euro) for a small bottle. Imported beers are more expensive as well as stronger alcohols like vodka or whiskey.
Wine? My favourite is Moroccan grey wine, only produced in Morocco. If you can’t decide what to buy, always go for the Domaine Sahari – all colours – cost around 80 MAD (7 euros). More about what kind of alcohol to buy in Morocco you will find in my article What alcohol to buy in Morocco?
Types of Bars/lounges/restaurants:
(As I live in Marrakech, the information is mainly based on my experience in this city)
The typical Moroccan bars are smoky, strange, unique places frequented by Moroccan men and prostitutes. To make things easy, I made my system classifying Moroccan bars. There are four classes: super cheap and local, cheap bars, regular bars, high-class bars and cool/hipster places.
- super cheap and local places;
- cheap ones;
- regular one;
- cool/hipster places.
Super cheap and local bars
“Super cheap and local bars” are places where you will rarely see other tourists. These places are small, a bit dirty, extremely smoky and the beer is cheap (around 15 MAD). I am in love with the small dirty places as you can discover the real Moroccan spirit there!
If you are a girl, I would not recommend going to super cheap and local bars alone. Only local men drinks in these places, and you might feel uncomfortable staying there alone. If you see local women in a cheap bar, she is a working lady.
Many of that kind of bars have secret names, and it is not easy to locate them if you want to give it a try, head to the La Petite Auberge, located next to the hotel Tachfine.
Cheap bars are cleaner; beer is around 20 MAD. You will often see working ladies and sometimes (still, very sometimes) tourists. In that kind of bars, I don’t feel awkward if I am there only with my girlfriends. One of my favourites is a bar in Gueliz, on the 6th floor of the hotel Tachfine. It has a great terrace with the view.
Regular bars are clean, and the audience is very different. Beer in these places cost around 40 MAD, and some of them even have a draft! Many bars are located in the hotels, e.g. the cheapest in Medina is in a hotel Tazi (love the red bar on the ground floor; if you are hungry go to the terrace). In Gueliz, my other favourite spot is a Chesterfield Pub located in the hotel Nassim.
High-class bars/lounges/restaurants are for those who like fancy places. They often include live belly dancer shows, singers and another programme. The alcohol is expensive, around 10 euros for a small beer or cocktail. Some are famous for daily live music concerts—some of the places: Comptoir Darna, So Lounge, Epicurien etc.
Cool places – the ones where modern young Moroccans hang out, and where I love to go for the weekends. My favourites in Marrakech are L’envers (the best electronic music DJs), Café du Livre (with English quiz nights every Monday), Point bar (more for chilling), Kabana (new spot in front the Koutoubia mosque) etc.
Ordering beer/wine in most of the bars, you will get some tapas. Probably, some olives, popcorns, lentils or beans. How many tapas you will get also depends on the city. I noticed that in Marrakech bars are modest with tapas as in Agadir or Tangier you can get even full! Tangier tapas is another story. I made a mistake once in Tangier. Because I was so hungry, I ordered beer and some food. However, soon one after another, tapas started to come. I was so full after tapas even didn’t want my meal.
In Morocco, local women don’t go to the cheap local bars. In many places, you will mainly see the male audience watching television or just talking. If you find Moroccan ladies in cheap bars or clubs, they are primarily the working ladies. Some (very rare) local Moroccan bars don’t accept women in general, or otherwise, women have to be accompanied by a man.
However, it doesn’t mean Moroccan women don’t go to bars at all. Many Moroccan ladies are modern and go out often. Then they choose different places where the audience is young, and the environment is safe for their reputation.
Female tourists can go to cheap Moroccan bars, but I would recommend not to go alone, better with male friends. Even if you visit a nightclub or bar that is occupied by the local working girls, nobody will consider you the same. E.g., I am a big fan of cheap local bars and never felt uncomfortable being the only not working lady there. More expensive, hip bars are safe places for female travellers.
During Ramadan, Muslim drinkers stop from consuming alcohol. Although alcohol consumption is not prohibited for tourists during Ramadan, only a few restaurants serve it. At least in Marrakech, only Carrefour and the Champion liquor store and few other small ones, sell alcohol. You can only buy it by providing a foreign passport. Your name will be registered in a particular book together with the amount of alcohol you are purchasing.
IMPORTANT FACT: During Ramadan, it’s haram not only to drink but as well to touch alcohol bottle. What do I mean? Few times in the Carrefour supermarket, I was asked to scan the alcohol bottles myself, as the cashier didn’t want to touch alcohol during Ramadan. It doesn’t happen often, most of the shop’s employees are not so strict about it.
To conclude, alcohol in Morocco exist. However, you must be respectful for the culture, never drink in an open space even if it is your balcony. In some hotels, drinking alcohol is forbidden, so read the house rules carefully. In Morocco, never drink booze in the intercity bus, train, on a shared/private tour or if you hired a private driver.
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