Tunisia is a Muslim country and Islamic law forbids the drinking of alcohol. Tunisia has always been a more liberal country than many of its Arab neighbours, though, and because of the large numbers of tourists it takes a pragmatic attitude to alcoholic drinks. They are generally available in restaurants and tourist hotels and can be bought in supermarkets but only between noon and 6.30pm, and not on Fridays, the Islamic holy day. Some restaurants that don’t serve wine will allow you to bring your own bottle, so it’s worth checking first if you enjoy a glass with your meal.
Celtia is the Tunisian beer that you’ll find everywhere, and it’s reasonably cheap. More expensive and less common are imported brands or brands brewed under licence in Tunisia, like Stella and Tuborg.
Perhaps surprisingly for an Islamic country, Tunisia has a flourishing wine industry and wine has been made here for more than 2000 years. The white wines tend to be better than the reds, which can be a bit harsh for western palates. The whites are generally dry, and you can also get a selection of rosés too.
There is also a choice of after-dinner drinks, with two in particular that visitors should try. Boukha is a liqueur that is made from figs, while thibarine is a sweet liqueur made from dates and herbs. Both can be very more-ish, and strong – so take care.
Don’t forget that the Tunisians are not generally supposed to drink. Some do enjoy a sly tipple, but don’t flaunt alcohol in front of them or try to persuade someone to take a drink if they are reluctant.
Tunisia’s national drink is tea – but not as we know it! Mostly they drink mint tea, which is very refreshing on a hot day, and if offered some you should never refuse as it is considered discourteous. You may also find green teas and black teas, usually drunk with lots of sugar. If you want British-style tea then ask for a thé au lait (pronounced tay olé) which you should be able to get in most tourist hotels and restaurants. Be warned, though, that it is rarely made with fresh milk.
The Tunisians also love good coffee, and here you should have no problems with expressos, cappuccinos, Turkish coffee and regular coffee all usually available – or at least close approximations of them.