Not only can you get a drink in Syria, but there are plenty of options of how and where to do it. And not only are there plenty of options, but there are some weird and wonderful places as well.
Tiki Bar – Damascus
Located in Damascus, this bar takes the faux Hawaiian style to the Syrian people, replete with wooden Tiki carvings, kerosene fire torches and plenty of wicker furniture. Damascus is probably the last place you’d except to find this weird take on island life, but then again Syria never ceases to amaze. Throw on a flower lei, don your best Hawaiian shirt, slap on some flip flops (thongs for our Australian readers, or jandals for our Kiwi friends), and grab a drink. Unfortunately, unlike most Tiki themed bars around the world, there is a lack of novelty umbrellas and colourful cocktails, however you can still get a cold beer, wine or spirit and either sit inside enjoying the island ambience, or sit outside and watch Damascus walk by.
Baron Hotel – Aleppo
The Baron Hotel in Aleppo is an institution. In years past, the Baron Hotel was one of the grandest hotels in all of Syria, if not the Middle East. Lawrence of Arabia stayed there, Agatha Christie stayed there and even wrote parts of Murder on the Orient Express while staying in one of their many hotel rooms. On the ground floor is the hotel bar which hasn’t been renovated or changed for at least 50 years. Beer coasters from beers that haven’t existed since the 60s, advertisements for airlines long since disappeared and even telegrams from dignitaries planning on staying at the hotel. You can still stay at the Baron Hotel, although it doesn’t really have electricity or running water and is a bit creepy. However, heading there and having a drink while exploring the amazing stories is the best way to experience this piece of living history.
Julie – Homs
Located in the Christian part of Homs, Julie is a restaurant and bar with a very unique and sad history. In 2014, the terrorist group ISIS, known locally as Daesh, controlled most of the city and used this large building as their local headquarters. You can see why they used it, because the buildings that house this Homs institution are huge and well built, with large dining halls and ever larger alfresco options, but one of the most striking parts of Julie is the underground bar which was used as the main bedroom for the local ISIS leader and his Jihadi wives. Today it’s actually a very classy establishment with an amazing menu and selection of drinks and shish and it’s quite fitting that the headquarters of the most evil conservative group on earth today is a place of fun and relaxation!
Le Piano – Damascus
Did somebody say Karaoke? Half of you probably just shivered at the thought, while the other half just started organising their annual leave. Even in Syria you can’t escape karaoke and Le Piano (which in French means The Piano, for anyone who’s not multi-lingual) is one of the most popular places in Damascus to have a few drinks and embarrass yourself in front of strangers. Located in the old city down a side alleyway, Le Piano is unassuming from the front, but when you enter and head downstairs a whole world opens. Done in a classic jazz bar style, this is actually quite cool and the well-dressed locals sitting in the dimly lit corners chatting about daily life really extenuate the style this local watering hole is going for.
Flo Bar – Lattakia
This one isn’t as quirky as the others, but it’s cool and that has to count for something. The nights start off slow here and pick up as the energy builds. A great friendly team serve you pretty much any drink you can think of, while the young very hip crowd discusses politics, culture or just the regular silly mundane points of life. Positioned away from the main beach means you’re not getting the try hard crowd. Instead you’re offered an experience that could be in Berlin or Melbourne – a real hipster bar.
Feel like joining us at one or more of these? We'd love to have you, so please take a look at our list of tours and see what takes your fancy!