Friday, April 25, 2008

Booze and the British kitty

The Brits here have a fun style of heading out on the town to drink. And because the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, alcohol is available here in a weird way. No booze is served at regular restaurants. Just really good food. But it's odd to be having a lavish meal with a group of people, sipping on an iced tea.

You could have a meal with alcohol, but it would be more expensive. Really the only place you can drink are in the hotels. So what's happened, as hotels have evolved to cater to tourists from the West, is that they each have a half dozen bars or so. You could stroll down a walkway at Le Meridian, for example, on a Saturday night and see packed patio after packed patio. People are not sipping, either. Nightclubs have bottle service at the tables, there are shooters, wine, everything you could want. Smoking everywhere, of course.

So while it's easier to drink less regularly here - I mean, how many of us go out for dinner back home and turn it in to an event after a bottle of wine? Of course, that could have just been my social circle - when you go out for drinks, it seems you go out for drinks.

And the Brits do this thing where you put money into a "kitty" - last time it was 100dirhams, say just under 30 bucks or so - and one person takes care of paying. These people are not sippers, either, so there is always a fresh drink appearing. Every so often someone will ask 'how's the kitty?' If it's getting low, we'll all pop in some cash.

Of course, everyone gets very tipsy. And no one worries about who bought what. It is, as the Brits would say, lovely.

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