In Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous nation, serving alcohol to Egyptians of any faith during Ramadan is illegal.
The vast majority of bars and clubs close over the course of the month as Egyptians, who may drink during the rest of the year, decide to observe the Koran’s strict prohibition of alcohol. For those who don’t want to forego the booze for 30 days, stockpiling is the most common option.
“People will make sure they have their stock,” says the nightclub manager, who requested anonymity because of the stigma associated with drinking in Ramadan.
Across Cairo before Ramadan, locals flit in and out of the capital’s ubiquitous Drinkies stores—licensed alcohol emporiums that distribute alcohol for Heineken-owned Al-Ahram beverages, by far Egypt’s largest brewing company.
Drinkers will load crates of the country’s most popular Stella beer onto hand trucks from the storefronts. Outside apartments, Drinkies deliverymen, usually drawn from Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority and therefore under no religious obligation not to drink, hand over black plastic bags packed full with bottles of Give Me Another Shot vodka.
After Drinkies closes for Ramadan, however, there are still locations that will serve Egyptians during the holy month, rather than turning down their regulars and letting only expats in.
“I know a couple of places are open during Ramadan and serving alcohol and serving regular customers even if they are Egyptians,” the manager says. “At the end of the day, people will have their pubs, and they know their ways around it. They can go and consume alcohol,” he says.
For those who miss the pre-Ramadan rush to stock their fridges or desire a bottle of imported alcohol, clandestine dealers who have their ways of getting hold of more exotic produce can be called upon. “If you want to find your way around it, you can find a dealer who gets it directly from the duty free,” the night club manager says.