I admit to becoming a fan of the tasty fruit “cocktails” that restaurants serve in place of alcohol.
However, when it comes down to it, dining out in Dubai could be so much more enjoyable if restaurants served alcohol. Charming cafés are screaming for a wine menu. My favorite burger place combined with the 100+ degree heat is begging for cold draft beer on tap. The mediocre Mexican restaurant down the street could definitely improve its game with a spunky margarita. I’m not talking crazy, over-indulgence, rip-roaring, drink-fests here. Just a quiet accompaniment to a nice meal, that’s all.
Restaurants and clubs that are attached to a hotel do serve alcohol, but it always feels a little weird to go to a resort or traipse through a hotel lobby in the city you live in, just to have a glass of wine with your dinner. And there is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving so you really have to taxi to restaurants and even your friend’s house if you plan to have even one drink. This makes enjoying a glass of wine anywhere except for home a bit of a burden.
Even if you want to drink alcohol at home, first you must obtain a license. To get the license, you have to fill out an application that is signed and stamped by the company you work for, attach copies of your passport, residency visa, labor contract, residency contract for your apartment or house, and pay $45. A married woman cannot get one on her own and has to share her husband’s license. The police process the application, which can take several painstaking weeks to be completed. Once your “red card” comes through, you can finally go to the liquor store and stock up. The liquor stores are private non-descript little places with no windows or advertisements outside, but once you get inside, there is a cozy familiarity about them.
Being in those liquor stores, though, starts to remind me of things I miss. For instance, I miss the original Specs in downtown Houston and that giddy feeling you get when you go to a store that has imported cheeses, delicious chocolates, a room full of cigars, and a great deli along with every type of alcohol and alcohol-related gadget under one glorious roof. I miss buying beer and wine with the rest of my groceries. I miss having a huge selection, even though I usually bought the same thing. I miss Absolut ads and even kind of miss annoying beer commercials. Basically, I really miss the accessibility of alcohol at home.
Oh well. I’ll go back to drinking my limeade now and just be thankful that I am allowed to buy alcohol at all!