Are you planning to explore Iran anytime soon? If yes, then it’s great!
The beautiful, enchanting country invites tourists to dig through several natural and historical places. Not to mention, the fantastic food will barely let you think about anything else. However, it is better to read about the rules and laws of every place before visiting it. Since you’re about to visit a Muslim country, some social taboos might also strike your mind. Most tourists are often concerned about the liquor availability and consumption in such countries.
So, can you drink alcohol in Iran?
As we all know, the official religion of this country is Islam, and in Islam, using any intoxicating substance is prohibited. Hence, alcohol is legally banned in Iran. Furthermore, the law does not allow for liquor production and trading. You will also not find any nightclubs, bars, or liquor stores in the state. But the story doesn’t end here. Keep reading to learn the cultural and legal considerations about alcohol consumption in the country.
Iran and the Islamic laws
Islam is considered as a religion of spiritual purity. According to Islamic teachings, Alcohol consumption and dependence are related to many social, psychological, and physiological harms. Iran strictly adheres to religious principles, and the law of the land applies to all.
While the majority of residents adhere strictly to abstinence from alcohol and regard its use as unethical or socially unacceptable, there are individuals who adopt a more permissive attitude towards it influenced by cultural and social norms.
Therefore, despite the rule, some illegal sources are making liquor availability possible. Many people are producing liquor within the country behind closed doors.
Drinking Alcohol in Iran
No Iranian is allowed to drink alcohol; it is still part of some parties and celebrations, but young Iranians have made it as common as in the West. Drinking alcohol on streets or religious places might put you at risk of severe legal complications.
Remember, there is no ‘Drinking Age’ in Iran. No matter what age group you belong to, public drunkenness can seize you behind bars. However, non-Muslim citizens and tourists often drink within their communities and private areas.
Evading the Law
No matter how strict the laws are, some people always evade them. Iranians are aware of the liquor consumption routine of foreigners. That is why some illegal sources produce alcohol on minor scales. Most of the alcohol in Iran is homemade.
Punishment for Drinking Alcohol in Iran
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Muslim citizens have been prohibited from producing or consuming alcohol. The Iranian government has announced harsh penalties for evading the laws. Furthermore, the punishment for alcoholic consumption is being lashed 80 times, accompanied by imprisonment. Trading or smuggling can drag the prisoner to the death penalty.
Bringing Alcohol to Iran as a Tourist
Not only the production and trading of alcohol is banned in Iran, but bringing alcohol as a tourist is also strictly prohibited. Therefore, your duty-free alcohol allowance will not work here.
Tourists are not allowed to carry liquor even for their personal use. According to the Iran travel restrictions, any visitor caught while drinking or taking any amount of liquor will have to face punishments like lashes or fines.
However, as per previous data, there have been no reports of tourists being subjected to arrest or intense scrutiny for any transgressions while visiting the region. A warning or pay-off to the police is usually reported, and the cases are resolved without any serious allegations or consequences.
Due to legal discipline, your luggage will be checked with X-rays and other means at the airport. In addition to raw alcoholic beverages and products, it is important to note that bringing chocolates or other foodstuffs with alcohol content is also not permitted.
Exceptions for Non-Muslim Religious Minorities
Even though the production and consumption of alcohol are strictly forbidden, there are still some exceptions.
Armenians have been living in Iran for many centuries. As a Christian community, they have granted limited permission to produce and consume alcohol within their community. Moreover, the most vital Armenian community lives in Tehran’s capital city. Hence, tourists or non-Muslim citizens can drink freely in the Armenian clubs.
Other than Armenians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are the chief ethnic minorities living in the country. They also can produce limited alcohol and consume it in private places.
Alcohol in Armenian Clubs
Finding wine or vodka in a dry country like Iran feels heavenly for the minorities living there! To satisfy their needs, Armenian clubs have been made. Therefore, guests or tourists are taken to these clubs where they can please their alcoholic cravings. It is the only spot where you can drink legally in Iran.
No hijabs or Muslim rules! The Armenian Club welcomes its guests with homemade Armenian Vodka and Armenian wines.
Drinking Alcohol in Iranian Hotels
You might have heard about the serving of alcohol in hotels. That’s just a fascinating myth. Previously, some hotels were pleasing tourists by serving alcohol, but the Iranian government charged a considerable fine and sealed them. Therefore, it is a risky idea to ask for alcohol in Iranian hotels, even in secrecy.
Iran’s National Alcoholic Drink
Iran’s national alcoholic drink, Aragh Sagi, is also known as the Persian vodka.
You will be lucky enough if you find “Aragh Sagi.” The name is translated in English as “Doggy distillate,” which contains 65% ethanol and is distilled from premium raisins. Besides its popularity in Iran among non-Muslims and tourists, it is illegally brewed in Iran against state laws. It is popular because of its taste, similar to ‘Grappa’- an Italian alcoholic drink. Many Western people call it Persian vodka.
The Best Substitute in Iran for an Alcohol-free Drink
Among non-alcoholic beverages, Delster is the most popular. Despite its high nutrition, it tastes rich with lemon, apple, peach, and tropical flavors. Many people found it easier to tempt their taste buds with this Iranian drink as a substitute flavor for alcoholic beverages. You can freely enjoy this Iranian beer in every restaurant alongside your meal. Also, if you prefer a drink without added flavors, go for a classic malt drink named Delster-e Sadeh.
Beware of Homemade Iranian Alcohol
Homemade alcohol does not undergo health and safety inspections like the renowned liquor factories. Hence, it is suggested to stay away from local Iranian liquor.
Homemade alcohol is also called “Sharab” or “Aragh”. These beverages are produced in unsafe environments and lack quality control. Also, using impure ingredients and inadequate distillation methods can result in serious health complications.
Recently, handmade and fake alcoholic beverages have killed 14 people in Alborz. Around 175 people have also reported suffering from alcoholic poisoning.
So that was all about: Can you drink alcohol in Iran? Whether Iranian or non-Iranian, it is better to follow the rules of the land. 80% of Iranians do not drink alcoholic beverages, yet huge industries promote illegal alcoholic beverages within the Iranian border.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.