Alcohol in Morocco: what to try, where to buy and how much it costs
Alcohol in Morocco

Alcohol in Morocco: what to try, where to buy and how much it costs

Alcohol and a Muslim country are from different universes: they exist but do not overlap. The situation in Morocco changes several times a year, the rules are getting stricter and the number of outlets is shrinking. If you can’t imagine a non-alcoholic vacation, I tell you where in Morocco a tourist will be sold alcohol.

How you want to sit on a terrace in the evening after a busy day of exhausting excursions and exploring a new culture and just gaze out into the distance… with a glass of red, of course. Or white. Or, at the very least, a rosé. Sparkling wine will do too. This is how a person of European civilization imagines a vacation.

That’s true if you’re at home. But Morocco is different. Alcohol has been prohibited here to varying degrees of strictness ever since the Arabs came here several centuries ago. Incredibly, Morocco produces its own wine, beer and even fig vodka, but you can buy them in a very small number of stores and bars. Formally, alcoholic beverages are sold here «for tourists», because Moroccans are calm about the fact that the «European god» does not forbid alcohol.

All prices in the photo are current as of March 2019. As alcohol prices in the country are regulated by the government, we can consider them fairly stable. All photos are taken at Carefour supermarket in Fes, Borj Fes shopping center — it seems to be the last major alcohol store in Fes. All prices on the photos are in dirhams: to get the euro rate, just divide by 10.

Wine in Morocco

Growing grapes and making wine here dates back to ancient times — remember that Morocco was once part of the Roman Empire. The spread of Arab culture reduced viticulture in North Africa to almost nothing until the French brought their winemaking traditions here during their protectorate in the twentieth century. The French left, but winemaking remained: they themselves had lost the technology of producing «gray wine» by that time, but it took root in Morocco. And today it is the only country in the world where vin gris is produced according to authentic technology, not simplified as in the rest of the world.

That’s what the guidebooks say. Wine websites echo them. Well, there is no reason not to trust the professionals, so trying gray wine in Morocco is a mast du.

The best Moroccan wines are produced in the Meknes region and are labeled AOG. The cost of such wines starts at 70 dirhams (~7 euros). Recognize gray wine simply by the inscription vin gris on the label and the dusty pink-orange hue of the liquid. Gray wine is not aged, but drunk young.

Pinot Gris prices in Fez
Pinot Gris prices in Fez
Pinot Gris wine in Morocco
Pinot Gris wine in Morocco

Imported wine (France, Spain, Italy) can also be bought, but the prices are 2—3 times higher than in Europe. Locals told me that alcoholic beverages here are subject to higher excise taxes as luxury goods. Find familiar labels on the photo and compare prices.

There are wines from Europe and the New World in Morocco, too
There are wines from Europe and the New World in Morocco, too
... but they cost two or three times as much as in Europe.
… but they cost two or three times as much as in Europe.

Wine prices in Morocco:

  • Local gray wine from 3 € wine from 7 € is considered good
  • Casillero del Diablo — 17 €
  • Chateau la Croix Montlabert — 33 €
  • JP Chanet — 13,3 €
  • Coronas (Torres) — 11,7 €

Beer in Morocco

Local beers are light liquid lagers. The most famous is Casablanca: 14 dirhams for 0.25 liters, 19 dirhams for 0.33 liters. Beer is clearly not the country’s strongest point. You can try it just for the sake of collecting flavors of beer from around the world, but wine is better still.

Imported beer, as well as strong alcohol (whiskey, vodka, cognac, etc.) is more expensive than in Europe or Russia.

Imported beer in Morocco
Imported beer in Morocco
The assortment is standard, the prices are high
The assortment is standard, the prices are high
The most popular local beer is Casablanca lager
The most popular local beer is Casablanca lager
Hard liquor is also expensive in Morocco
Hard liquor is also expensive in Morocco

Vodka and beer prices in Morocco:

  • Vodka Stolichnaya — 26,4 €
  • Vodka Finland — 23,9 €
  • Vodka Polyakov — 15—16 €
  • Vodka 1715 — 13 €
  • Tuborg / Stella Artois / Carlsberg, 0,5L — 2,5 €
  • Corona extra 0,33l — 2,6 €
  • Budweiser 0,5l — 2,8 €
  • 1664, 0,5л — 3 €
  • Local beer Casablanka 0,5l — 19 €

Liquor stores in Morocco

Every year there are fewer and fewer stores in Morocco that sell alcohol officially and boldly. These stores, stores and stores hide in inconspicuous places, often without signage, so as not to offend, provoke or attract anyone — those who need it will find it themselves. For example, in the largest and very modern shopping center Borj Fes in Fez, where Carefour occupies half of the first floor, the liquor department is located in a far corner, which is impossible to find without tips.

The surest way to get alcohol in Morocco is to find the city’s largest Carefour. Not even all the stores in this chain have alcohol departments, and where they do, they are located outside the main shopping area. Prices in the store are lower than in restaurants, but higher than in Europe.

The entrance looks like this:

Alcohol departments in Moroccan supermarkets are being hidden in a far corner
Alcohol departments in Moroccan supermarkets are being hidden in a far corner

Bars and restaurants in Morocco

Every year there are fewer and fewer of them, but they are still there: restaurants, hotels and bars that have a wine list. Some sell alcohol illegally, and your bill will be something indecipherable. Others will sell you alcohol quite officially, but prepare for unthinkable prices, especially in restaurants. The most affordable alcohol in Moroccan catering can be found in bars (you have to find those bars first, of course). A curious Moroccan peculiarity: only tourists will be in restaurants with alcohol, while in bars it will be mostly locals.

Map of stores and establishments in Morocco that sell alcohol.

Alcohol in Moroccan Duty free

The most sensible advice for the first few days, while you get settled in, is to bring a couple of bottles with you. Moroccan customs regulations allow you to bring 1 liter of wine and 1 liter of spirits per person. It is best to buy this at the airport of departure, as there are no duty free shops in the arrivals area of Moroccan airports.

You can buy alcohol on departure from Morocco, but the prices are inhumane and the range is only a few items.