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A Boozer's Guide to Cairo (and Egypt)


A Boozer's Guide to Cairo (and Egypt)

By Seif Kamel

A vendor at Simon holds a bottle of Johnny Walker


Think you can't just walk into the local liquor store to refresh the mini bar in your hotel in Cairo? Think again. Alcoholic beverages, specifically beer and wine, were a staple of the ancient Egyptian diet (though perhaps beer far more than wine). It is said that beer was introduced to the Egyptians by the god Osiris. Some concoctions were, those served to royalty and high officials, were very sophisticated, while the masses mostly drank relatively crude beer. We really do not know if alcohol has been available throughout Egypt's complete history, though in some form it probably has, even during the deepest period of archaic Islamic rule.

A show full of booze in Cairo

During the earlier Christian Period, alcoholic production is certainly evident even in monasteries, were we find a number of wine presses, and certainly after the French invasion, and thereafter into modern times, it has been present.

Perhaps surprisingly, for a Islamic nation, there is considerable production of alcoholic beverages in Egypt these days. Al Ahram Beverages Company has been producing a lot of fine beer, wine, and spirits and these products are even being exported to many European countries.

The real value of Egyptian alcoholic beverages to tourists is that they are much less expensive than imported beverages. Most hotels, and particularly the larger ones, carry a fairly extensive selection of foreign beer, wine and spirits, though certainly not what one might expect in a European or American location. Nevertheless, many of the better known European brands will be stocked but, for example, there will be a vary limited variety of American bourbons, wines and beer. The solution to this is simple. If you are really attached to a specific brand, bring it with you.

Note that this is not really an entertainment guide. Alcoholic beverages, both domestic and imported, may be purchased in many, many hotel and independent bars, pubs, discos and restaurants throughout Egypt.

The products

Beer

Today, there are some brands of beer that have been produced in Egypt for at least 100 years. Today strict laws are put on the production of Egyptian beer by the government. There are those who believe Egyptian beer to be one of the best in the world, because of the fine raw material available for its production in Egypt.


Stella

Stella Local

Stella is the most famous brand of beer in Egypt. It has been manufactured in Egypt since the 19th century and so many Egyptian, and actually many experienced travelers, prefer it to any other kind of beer. One will not find a single bar in Egypt that doesnt sell Stella or even have the Stella logo on the bar or shop. Stella can even be found in many bars in Europe


There are three varieties of Stella beer. The first, the most famous and beloved, is Stella local with its traditional taste that hasnt changed for years. At one time, its quality was questionable, and very often variable. However, the quality of this beer has improved considerably since Al Ahram started producing it. It is sold in bottles and in cans.

Alcohol content: 4.5 %
Bitterness: 17 EBU
Height: Bottle 242 mm, Can: 117

Stella Premium

The second kind of Stella is Stella export which was added to the production line of Stella. It is a smooth and refreshing beer that has a bit more alcohol, as well as a little higher price tag.

Alcohol content: 5.2 %
Bitterness: 20 EBU
Height: Bottle 242 mm, Can: 117


Finally, there is Stella Premium. It is a wonderful choice for a drinker who prefers strong dark beer with the same wonderful Stella taste. It is only sold in bottles

Alcohol content: 6.4 %
Bitterness: 24 EBU
Height: Bottle 241 mm

Sakara

Sakara is the newest brand of beer in the Egyptian market. It's claim to fame is that it is produced using the best technologies from around the world. Although Sakara is a relatively new brank, it has a good share of the Egyptian market nowadays.

Sakara Beer is only available in one version, which is Sakara Gold. It is well known for its large can.

Alcohol content: 4.0 %
Bitterness: 18 EBU
Height: Bottle 282 mm, Can 170


Meister

Regular Meister Beer

Meister is a European brand, but the beers is licensed for, and produced in Egypt. However, it has the European quality and taste. It attracted many drinkers because of this, and its alcohol content which is higher than many of the other beers. It comes in two varieties, the first of which is Meister regular which is a good traditional strong beer with strong flavor.

Alcohol content: 5.2 %
Bitterness: 13 EBU
Height: Bottle 249 mm, Can 117

Meister Max Beer

The second type is Meister Max which is the strongest beer in Egypt, even though it has a very smooth flavor

Alcohol content: 8 %
Bitterness: 20 EBU
Height: Bottle 241 mm, Can 117

The Beer prices in stores range from 5 to 8 pounds with discounts when buying larger amounts. In hotels, and particularly five star hotels, the price may be considerably higher. Wine Wine is known from ancient Egypt from about 2600 BC onward. The Egyptians were the first to record the ingredients and process of manufacturing wine in the period of the pharaohs. Wine was even provided to the deceased in ancient Egypt, and stored in their tombs. In 1882, Nestor Giancils, a Greek man who lived in Egypt at that time, made great efforts to produce wine the way the pharaohs once did. Hence, the first brand of wine produced in Egypt was named Giancils after him. These products are still produced, but with much better quality and technology Giancils types of Wine

Omar Khayyam


Omar Khayyam Wine

This wine was named for a great mathematician and philosopher who loved poetry and women. It is a deep dry wine made from cabernet sauvignon and suitable for beef or pasta meals. The bottle should be presented at room temperature.

Alcohol content: 12.5 %

Cru des Ptolmees

Cru des Ptolmees


The actual successor to the Pharaonic wine loved by Queen Cleopatra is Cru des Ptolmees. It is a fresh full aromatic wine made of pinot Blanc and should be served cold. It is best served with seafood.

Alcohol content: 12.5 % The price of the bottle of Rubis D' Egypte wine is about 50 pounds with discounts when buying in quantity.

Rubis D' Egypte

Rubis D' Egypte Wine

This wine has a pretty medium rose color in the glass, this wine has a nose of apples and damp wool. In the mouth it has good acidity with some crabapple flavors mixed with strong alcohol and acetone flavors that careen towards a burning finish.. It is best served cold with Chicken or light salads.

Alcohol content: 12.5 % The price of the bottle of Rubis D' Egypte wine is about 50 pounds with discounts when buying in quantity.

Abarka

Abarka Wine


Abarka is dedicated to the Christian Copts in Egypt and is consumed by them feast times such as Christmas and Easter. It is a much stronger wine then the others

Alcohol content: 16 %

The prices of Giancils types range from 30 to 35 pounds with discounts when buying large amounts. Again, prices may be considerably higher at tourists hotels. Other types of Giancils style wine include:

Chateau des Reves wine

Chateau des Reves wine is considered by many foreingers to be one of the best

This is Giancils' premium wine. It is made from a variety of imported grapes from Lebanon. This is a well balanced premium wine. The wine has a medium ruby color in the glass, with a nose of dried cherries and rum. In the mouth it has an undistinguished mouthfeel and watery flavors of stewed plums and figs that actually carries through to a moderate finish. It is one of Egypt's richest and most elegant wine. In fact, a number of foreign specialists also rank this as the best wine in Egypt.

Alcohol content: 13 %
The price of the bottle of Chateau des Reves wine is 60 pounds with discounts when buying in quantity.


Aida

Aida is actually a sparkling wine, but has received bad marks from some foreign specialists


Nestor Giancils discovered a wonderful soil in the heart of the Egyptian desert that is salt free, from which Aida wine is produced. The bottle resembles the champagne in France. It takes its name from the famous Opera Aida that is performed in Egypt every few years

Alcohol content: 12.5 %

The price of an Aida bottle is 62 pounds with discounts when buying larger amounts

Obelisk

Obelisk is another type of wine in Egypt, considered by many to be one of the best. Many Egyptians who enjoy wine consider it to be a work of art in itself. Unfortunately not all foreigner agree with this Egyptian sentiment. The whole production of Obelisk is supervised by a Lebanese oenologist.


Obelisk types


Red Obelisk

Obelisk Red Wine


The red wine is a dry wine. It is a light ruby in color, but this wine smells has a rather poor smell. In the mouth it is earthy with flavors of wood and leather, and actually has some tannic structure, though thin and watery on the tongue with little to no finish. Nevertheless, a number of foreign wine specialists have ranked this as a good wine.

Alcohol content: 12.5 %


White Obelisk

Obelisk White Wine

This wine is a light golden color in the glass with hints of straw, and very light aromas of minerals and parchment.

In the mouth it has some fruit (gooseberry?) flavors which are quickly eclipsed with sharp flavors

Alcohol content: 12.5 %


Rose Obelisk

Regrettably, many foreign specialists are not fond of Obelisk rose wine


This dry rose wine has probably garnered the worst reputation among foreigners of any Egyptian wine. Some foreign wine experts have referred to it as nearly undrinkable.

Alcohol content: 12.5 %

The prices of Obelisk range from 29 to 30 pounds a bottle with discounts when buying larger amounts.



Grand Marcus wine


Grand Marcus is a superior table wine. It has a typical French name and label, but is made in Egypt


Red Grand Marcus red wine

Grand Marcus Red Wine


The Red variety of Red Grand Marcus wine is said to be manufactured out of the best grapes in Egypt, and then well aged in oak barrels for an extended period of time. A number of foreign wine specialists rank this as one of the best wines in Egypt. Alcohol content: 12.5 %

Red Grand Marcus white wine

Grand Marcus White Wine

This is an elegant wine and with a firm and pleasing taste.

Alcohol content: 12.5 %

Red Grand Marcus rose wine

The Red Grand Marcus rose wine is a fine blind of selected grapes

Alcohol content: 12.5 %

The prices of Grand Marcus red wine is 42 pounds for a bottle with discounts

when buying larger amounts Spirits UDG or the United Distillery Group is a subsidiary of Al Ahram Beverages Company and is considered one of the top companies that produce spirit drinks in Egypt. The company has investmented 80 million pounds in facilities, and has the supervision of Master Distillers in Canada. Their fine quality spirit drinks can be found all over the Egyptian market.


Chill

The Chill line is similar to wine coolers

It is a new ready to drink spirit with the excitement of carbonation. It is basically what Americans would call a wine cooler. This drink is very refreshing and is suitable for all kinds of drinkers and various atmospheres. It comes with three great flavors: Pina Colada, Margarita, and Arak Ice.

Alcohol content: 7 %

The price of a Chill bottle is 7.5 pounds with discounts when buying large amounts

Edge

Edge makes a number of drinks that are similar to wine coolers



It is also a ready to drink product that became popular amongst drinkers of all ages. It has a

vodka base with a refreshing taste. It is available in three great flavors:, Cranberry, Lime, and Water Melon

Alcohol content: 7 %

The price of an Edge bottle is 6 pounds with discounts when buying in quantity. ID Vodka

ID Vodka is the flagship of the ID brand and is a premium quality distilled vodka. It has a refreshing balanced taste and the ID bottle comes in a larger size (1000 ml) than Edge and Chill as it is more suitable for a party atmosphere. It comes with four flavors, including normal, pineapple, Citrus, and Vanilla.

The price of an ID bottle is 80 pounds with discounts when buying larger amounts

Auld Stag

Aulid Stag is a scotch whisky blend


This is a fine blended whiskey (Scotch) produced by UDG. It is the best premium whiskey in Egypt. This drink has gained the trust of many middle and high class drinkers in Egypt and nowadays it is being exported to different countries all over the world.


The price of an Auld Stag bottle is 75 pounds with discounts when buying larger amounts


Butler's Gin

Butler's Gin is very similar to what one might find eslewhere


This is an original London dry Gin produced by UDG under licenses of William McLeod and Sons, Scotland. Butler's Gin has the typical taste and complex aromas of the English Gin. It is also packaged in a unique eye catching bottle.

The price of an Auld Butler's Gin is 60 pounds with discounts when buying quantities.

Other than these well known brands, there are also some Egyptian imitation of many international brands like Johnny Walker Whiskey or Absolute Fendlandia Vodka for example. These bottles are much less in the price than the above beverages but they also do not have the same quality.

Where to buy Alcohol

What a wonderful name for a liquor store, Drinkie's

There are mainly three companies that operate liquor stores in Cairo, plus a number of smaller stores One of the main liquor stores is known as Drinkies. It is the official stores of Al Ahram beverages and sells all of their products. They sell other items as well, like the famous Heineken beer, for instance. They also sell non alcoholic beverages like Birel, the non alcoholic beer, and Fairuz, the most famous non alcoholic beer in Egypt. Drinkies deliver drinks to everywhere in Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, and the north coast in the summer. They have branches all over Egypt:


Zamalek: 155 26 of July St.
Mohandeseen: At the end of Game't Al Dowal St.
Maadi: 9 Streets beside Cilantro Caf.
Delivery: 19330 from anywhere.

One can buy more than liquor at Maison Thomas. It sells just about everything that a Muslim would not want

If one want a beer or a bottle of wine at any time, Maison Thomas is the place to go to. This outlet sells all kinds of beers and wines and it is open 24 hours per day. Thomas has been in Egypt since 1922. They are also one of the few places that sell many kinds of pork, including Ham, Bacon, Mortadella, Salami, and others. They are also famous for their pizzas and deserts

Zamalek: 157 26 of July St. 7357057
Mohandeseen: 29 Shehab St 3036139
Maadi: Cairo-Helwan road, next to Metro super market 5243800
Helioplis: 114 Merghany St. 4192914

El Gouna: Abu Tig, Marina

There are a number of Free Shops, but the easiest way to buy is at the airport after arrival

The only place one can buy legal imported alcohol in Egypt is the Egypt Free shops. Cairo and Luxor airports have Free shops, as well as some others. A visitor can buy up to 3 liters of Alcohol and a case of beer, together with up to 200 cigarettes. One can buy these items upon arrival or within 24 hours from the free shops outside the airports. There are free shops in Mohandeseen at the end of Game't Al Dowal Street, in the Semiramis hotel in Cairo and in the Gezira Sheraton in on Zamalek.

Part of the liquor shop in Simon Cafe

There are also free shops down town in Hurghada and Luxor. The prices in the free shops tend to be close to the same as the price one might find at home. One must have a passport to make purchases in the free shops. Of course, one can also legally buy an imported bottle of alcohol from most of the hotel bars all over Egypt, but the prices will be extremely high.

The New Star Liquor store

Finally, one can buy alcohol from many little stores spread all around Egypt. There isnt neighborhood without a beverage store. These stores have all kinds of varieties from the Ahram products to others with the same prices.

In Maadi, there is Masoud and Gomaa in the middle of 9 Street. In Mohandeseen, there is New Star in Tahrir Street. In Heliopolis there is the El Shamaa store in Al Ahram Street. Downtown, there is Simon Caf and store on 26 of July Street near Boulak. These are only a few examples, because there are so many of these stores around Cairo and Egypt. These places sell groceries and other items in addition to alcohol.

In the end, one is allowed to bring in up to four liters of alcoholic beverages into Egypt, and if one has a certain preferred brand of foreign liquor, this is probably the most economical way to have a drink while in Egypt. Also, keep in mind that Egypt Air does not serve alcohol, but allows passengers to bring their own, so stock up before leaving for Egypt. But do enjoy some of the local drinks. The beer, in particular, is well liked by most, and wine is growing in popularity.

Al Shamaa Store selling more than just alcoholic beverages

Al Shamaa Store selling more than just alcoholic beverages

Last Updated: June 8th, 2011

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