Modern Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, where tea and coffee have largely replaced beer and wine as the dominant social lubricants. However, one needn’t look far to discover that alcohol still has a place in Jordan, all be it consumed discretely.
This hasn’t always been the case though. From Petra’s wine-soaked mosaics to the ancient viticulture of Umm Qais from where grew the wine that Jesus drank at the last supper, Jordan has a rich heritage in the production of liquors.
At Jordan Select Tours, we receive many queries from clients regarding alcohol consumption and its status here in Jordan. In this article, we aim to shed some light on some of the drinks available in Jordan. Quick note: We do not advocate for the consumption of alcohol; we only seek to inform those who dare to on how to drink responsibly.
Drinks available in Jordan
Jordanian wine and beer have undergone a quiet renaissance over recent decades. After a thousand-year hiatus, wine production has returned to the Kingdom with great success. Two families dominate domestic wine production. The Haddad’s and Zumot’s own Jordan River and Saint George respectively. Grown near to the Syrian border in the far North of Jordan, both their ranges stack up well in comparison to European competition. Saint George in particular is swiss-certified organic. Imported wines are available but be prepared to pay more.
Beer in Jordan is a simple affair. Amstel is locally franchised (surprisingly the first outside of Holland) and offers probably the best domestically brewed lager. Another domestic lager is Petra, who offer three beers at 5% ABV, 8% ABV, 10% ABV and 13% ABV.
In the humble opinion of the author, these are bad lagers. If one must consume Petra, for your own sake, avoid the 10% at all costs. In a similar vein, liquor stores in Jordan offer a wide range of ‘beers’ well above 10% ABV. Yeast generally dies above this percentage, and after tasting, you will realise that Jordanian brewers have not managed to beat nature in the quest for strength.
On a more positive note, Carakale produces a great selection of beers. Alongside seasonal brews, they offer a flagship lager alongside blonde and pale ales. The ales in particular are of credit.
Imported beer is also available in Jordan. The two most encountered are Heineken and Corona. Expect to pay significantly more for these.
In bars, cocktails are the order of the day. These are usually far stronger than in Western countries but are priced reasonably (6-11JD/8.50-15.50USD). Despite an annoying scarcity of old-fashioneds, most other drinks are widely available. The quality of mixologists does however vary wildly.
Aside from international hotels where drinks are usually pretty good, it really is a roulette as to whether your cocktail will be of an acceptable standard. On one occasion in particular, a bar within one of Jordan’s most well-known hospitality groups served me a ‘martini’ consisting of equal parts vodka and olive brine. It was promptly sent back. As a quick rule of thumb: TripAdvisor doesn’t lie.
Socially, avoid being drunk in public. Jordan is a predominantly Islamic country and unsurprisingly public intoxication is not appreciated by the authorities. In Amman, it can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. Have a good time but always be mindful of the local culture. Moreover, if in need of a lift back to your accommodation after a few drinks, avoid yellow taxis and opt for an Uber or Careem.
Finally, alcohol in Jordan is taxed by volume rather than by percentage as is the norm in most Western countries. Thus, local spirits can be staggeringly cheap. Tragically, however, aside from Arak (a local aniseed-based liquor), these cannot be recommended. Only the most intrepid of explorers may venture into such depths. Stick to the imports.