People generally have a hazy understanding of the availability of alcohol in Qatar. For certain there is no availability of alcohol without a liquor licence. Even then it is only available in one windowless outlet in the whole of Qatar. Queue cans be long, prices can be double what they are in Ireland, but in short, yes, alcohol is available in Qatar. Now given the circumstance of availability people of course buy in relative bulk, not having the luxury of throwing an emergency bottle down between the loaf and a packet of frubes, here in Qatar we plan ahead, carefully plot out our estimated consumption for the month, generally using the limit as a target.
The good news is, having such restrictions in restaurants and hotels means that we expats should self-regulate, thus was born the midday gin-swilling expat wife persona. We earned the reputation and we set the pace for the rest of the world. Course, the rest of world were busy leading normal lives so the expats were clear winners, we owned gin and tonic in the kitchen, the rest of the world could have beer in a bar if they wanted, we had Hendricks.
So you can imagine my utter disgust when I returned home in summer to find the whole of Ireland had gone gin mad. It first started when I met friends for a drink, I ordered a gin and t cos I’m an expat and they ordered the same, I presumed to keep the round tidy. Then the palaver started, the barmaid asked, ‘which gin would you like? What glass? What accompaniments?’, as you like I said and lo and behold within minutes a fishbowl landed in front of me, complete with segments of satsumas, sliced cucumber and cranberries, I ordered a G&T I said, not a fruit salad. The girls all laughed, oh this is the new thing now, gorgeous isn’t it. Perturbed at my understanding of the world being turned upside down I casually noted, I didn’t know you drank gin, Grainne or you Roisin. Oh yes, I love gin, the reply came in unison.
From that moment on I couldn’t help notice the gin scene just about everywhere in Ireland. Gin Menu, Gin nights, Gin Bars, Gin Houses, New Gins, Irish Gins. The expats were no longer the connoisseurs, Ireland had pipped us, again.
Gin could never feel the same and to make matters worse, when we returned I realised my liquor licence had expired. Such is the rigmarole that getting it renewed I decided on a forced Sober October. I chanted the benefits, first and foremost, weight loss, improved complexion and a fresh early morning, every morning. It was all I had, as my liquor licence was defunct. Whilst I wasn’t having a great time, I told solace in the fact that I was whippet thin (imagination required) and fresh as a daisy. No fun no foul so to speak and just when I was beginning to feel that I had something on all the new breed fancy gin-swillers in Ireland I read the news, the awful news.
‘Lidl launches organic hangover free Prosecco’. I was flummoxed. It could have read, ‘Aston Martin to make affordable MPV for middle income car lovers’, the ever-developing ways to incorporate alcohol into everyday life were gut wrenching to me having to endure sober October, whilst my buddies in cork could enjoy a glass, hell a bottle of prosecco and not have to suffer the hangover – just plain unfair. The organic bit I’d say they just threw in for good measure, the environment was certainly never my priority when I was drinking Prosecco and I never got the impression anyone else was concerned either.
I thought all was lost until the very following day a headline came out in Qatar, ‘Night Orient drinks found unsafe’. Night Orient the new alcohol-free wine launched not long ago in Qatar, six bottles of which were gifted to my Iranian friend, whose efforts to convert me must date failed. The articles states how the drink was found to have quantities of methanol that were unsafe for human consumption, poisonous to the system and may result in blindness or coma. Just like the old wine at home not this hangover free, organic stuff, yay, crack open the Night Orient.