Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And in heaven there will be rivers of milk and honey

Saudi Arabia is known by many people as the country of prohibitions. It seems that the Kingdom is strict and uniform in its attempts to stop people from vices that are an everyday occurrence in other countries like the US or places in Europe - i.e., the "West." One of these things is, of course, alcohol. Having alcohol in any drinkable form in Saudi is against the law. Whatever happens in secret is no business of mine, but most people I know do not drink alcohol (but then again, I don't know many people here).

If you live in a country where alcohol is legal (for people of certain ages) and widely available, can you imagine a supermarket with no beers or wine coolers or whatever? A whole section of shelves and shelves would have nothing on them! Here, in Saudi, alcoholic drinks are replaced by many other things: fruit juices, soft drinks, flavoured waters, and…fake alcohol. Yes, on the shelves in the cold sections of the supermarket, I find non-alcoholic versions of Budweiser, things that look like those funny wine coolers, and wine. None of them have even a tiny bit of alcohol and most of them take their flavours from fruit.

Saudi Champagne is a very popular fake alcoholic drink. It is apparently a mixture of apple juice, grape juice, 7up, mint, and slices of orange and apple (and maybe grapes depending on who makes it). It is available at most restaurants and it tastes FANTASTIC. However, I knew there were others to be found in my local supermarket.

I decided today to be very, very brave. These drinks are notorious for being either delicious or extremely vile. I am going to sample 6 drinks, and because I am against being wasteful, if I can, I will drink the whole thing.

So here it is: the Burdened Mary samples weird non-alcoholic drinks! I am actually tasting as I type. This is going to be fun!

1. FREEZ: Grenadine flavour
The Look: Very...PINK! I chose this because of its crazy colour but also because I have high hopes for grenadine. This had better be good!
First Taste: Hmmm not too bad, actually! It tastes very sweet, and it definitely has that "authentic" artificial grenadine flavour. I think I could drink this by choice, but it resembles a much cheaper soda called Vimto that is readily available here. I might as well buy that instead, to be honest.
Final Grade: B+

2. Moussy: Pomegranate flavour

The Look: These malt drinks are probably familiar to those in the US and Europe. A lot of people drink these "malt beverages" and I know that my Dad is a big fan of this one. I've never tried it, so here we go!
First Taste: Ugh. It tastes like watered down medicine, and smells like it too. NOT a fan. It has a weird sour aftertaste in the mouth. I think I can finish it, but...ugh. Never again.
Final Grade: C-

3. HOLSTEN: Mango flavour

The Look: It really looks like a beer! It even has German writing on it, and a funky seal thing of a knight riding a horse. It also advertises that it is "imported"! Pretty impressive! Let's see if the mango flavour is any good. Like grenadine, I have some high expectations for that flavour.
First Taste: Okay, this is better than Moussy, but it has that weird malty aftertaste that I seriously don't like. The mango is wonderful, though, and I think that if I were drinking this ice cold, it'd be pretty good on a hot, hot day like today.
Final Grade: B

4. Cade: "Green" cocktail

The Look: I gotta admit - this one scares me! How GREEN can something be? Apparently, very green indeed. I've tasted the pink version of this drink and let me be honest with you: it was pretty nasty. Way too sweet for me to handle. I'm pretty worried!
First taste: I just drank apple. That's it. Sour apple candy in liquid, mildly fizzy form. I am absolutely pouring this one down the sink. Along with the Moussy.
Final Grade: D-

5. Non-alcoholic Budweiser

The Look: It looks...authentic-ish. It even says genuine on it!
First taste: It SMELLED like cat pee. It tasted HORRIBLE: like bread, cardboard, alka-selzter, and carbonated water all mixed together in some disgusting vat somewhere. OH LORD. Get this taste out of my mouth please! I am washing this down with some FREEZ right now. I cannot take another sip!
Final Grade: F-!

6. Non-alcoholic White Zinfandel

The Look: I'm serious. This exists. It's a huge bottle too, so it had better be good! This cost so much money compared to the others (it's actually not that much) that I really, really hope that it tastes awesome. Oh please, Gods of imitation-alcoholic drinks...be merciful. I can't take anymore!
First Taste: Well, guess what? I can't open it. I need a corkscrew! I don't have one! I guess they went the whole way with making this like a wine bottle. I'm kind of screwed for the moment, then. Sorry! The review of this one will just have to wait.
Final Grade: F+ for ME because I failed miserably. If this is fake wine, I should have known they'd go all out and make it fake wine, cork included!

All in all, this was a really fun experience. These drinks were mostly duds compared to fresh fruit juices or Saudi Champagne (I could really go for some right now!) but hey, it was all worth it. I'll just need to eat some delicious food to balance it all out. It works out for the best!


  1. Do they have Feyrouz there? It's another one of the malt beverages, but I thought it was great and I don't even like beer.

  2. Actually, I have seen Feyrouz around but they were not selling it in my supermarket for some reason! I heard it is quite good, but similar to Moussy. I don't know if I would like it!

  3. Moussy and holsten are good, you should try out the other flavors in moussy.... might like it. Why not try barbican too.

  4. Holsten Pomegranate is the best flavor in my opinion. :)

    Barbican is also popular but I don't like it.

  5. I didn't see Barbican either. I'll take a look out for it. Is it also a malty drink? I have a serious problem with that strange aftertaste that tastes like bread! Holsten really wasn't that bad so maybe I'll try the Pomegranate one next! I love pomegranate!

  6. a little trick I learned in high school: when you don't have a corkscrew, push the cork into the bottle. Works like a charm.

  7. Well oh my dear! I am totally going to try it. Thank you!

  8. Oh God, I HATE Moussy. See if you can find some Sidiqi to try though! ;-)

  9. Moussy IS incredibly vile, hannah. I've never seen Sidiqi but who knows?! Saudi has a lot of hidden treasures, especially in the food department!

  10. Just curious, did you ever try the real budweiser? as in to compare between the two? cause budweiser is my favorite drink.

    as for mousy, I actually like apple and raspberry flavored ones, they taste pretty good.