Hitting the Booze in Addis

Bring me one more is the non-lasting drinking invitation for those who enjoy drinking and the atmosphere.

Whether it is in the small bar around Sheger building called Libro where friends and colleagues of Heran Kebede gather, the tej bets, the crowded draft houses, the renowned bars, or the VIP bars, everyone shares the enjoyment of drinking.

This is a life that haunts and embraces its lovers. Bar hopping, hearing the sounds of glasses hitting each other, laughter, music, and drunken conversation all take place when alcohol is added to the mixture.

In the small bar Libro, not bothered by pedestrians, a group of people are having drinks and the red and black striped uniform wearing waiters run here and there.

Refilling every drink, the beer, mezzo, gin, vodka, and the name-calling and ordering continues from all sides. Sipping their drinks, smoking cigarettes, getting into heated conversations, going into trances and slurred speeches give this place a unique yet typical vibe.

Even though the night is chilly, this place is warm. The feeling of warmth is felt amongst Heran’s friends and the number of beer bottles is piling up.

Heran who has only had two beers says she cannot drink any more and says she usually prefers to go on to hard liquor after a couple of beers. But since it is a weekday she is avoiding the hard liquor and is ready to hit the road once her friends are ready. Now even though she is slowing in her intake of alcohol, two years ago she used to describe her life as Bruno Mars’ song, ‘Liquor store blues’ and the verse ‘I’ll take one shot for my pain one drag for my sorrows’ gives a good pictionary of what she passed through.

Like many she did not start drinking in college but rather at home at family functions. Her family was okay with her drinking at home but not out. Her drinking coincided with the bad job and her nagging boss so she wanted a personal escape.

She found a group of friends and started going to Sefer Bar, Zanzibar and the German House bar. It always starts with beer, drafts and goes on to hard local liquor, Mezzo if there is no cash, but she prefers vodka. Within her mixing preferences she prefers to mix vodka with ice, lemon and royal tonic.

Her job problems, relationship crises, friends’ relationship crises, rumors and ranting were consuming her and so her intake of alcohol also escalated.

Sometimes she goes out of the office only to smoke a cigarette, which her group of friends nicknamed ‘Tomasina,’ and whenever they want to share they use the term apply. Even when she does not want to go out there is always someone who wants to go out, if she is broke there will be someone with cash her life was a circle of drinking and intoxication.

If she wants to drink she prefers bars but after a few drinks she wants to dance so she heads to different clubs to dance the night away. Finally she broke away from the group and turned her life around and her drinking habits into enjoyment.

Addis is being criticized for not being a vibrant city for city dwellers. The few galleries, cinema houses and museums aren’t enough and for those who do not have formal office hours, the city does not offer entertainment places, just monotonous cafes on every corner of Addis. This situation also repeats itself during the night. Few night clubs, rare concerts, very few live music scenes for many of the Addis Ababans who love to have fun and get away it always becomes a question of where to go and what to do.

For those whose days are busy with office work, with worries, with the hustle and bustle of lives who like to have fun the any kind of alcohol, the obscure bars, the big hanging out places, the big clubs cater the entertaining side of alcohol to the Addis urban community. A culture where drinks are part of the day-to-day life with tella and tej bets with the life of urban phenomena many of the bars try to fulfill that.

For many office workers, the lion’s share being men, the other part of the life begins after office hours. Around 6 pm the high life begins. Even though many people omit drinking from the list of their hobbies, it is too common seeing people spend most of their after work hours in bars drinking.

Whether it is a house party, official party, a wedding or anything fun, they all seem to feature alcohol. The places they cater and the prices they charge differ of course.

Passing the message of ‘hanging out outside of bole’ Jolly Bar gives the alcohol, music, in different level. The scene of the place, the smell of the perfumes Gucci, Escada, Emporio Armani, the outfits makes it is not only about the alcohol or the food rather a small island which puts a show. In this place apart from the usual alcohol is what they call the mixologysts (bartenders) who put up a show. Shaking the different alcohols in their shakers they put on a show.

Far from all these class questions, Ashenafi Kibret (not his real name) likes his small groceries and enjoys his Turbo a mix of Awash Wine, beer and sprite. He does not know where or how the name Turbo came about but in some places they also call it Fashko.

This mix was created by one of the bartenders and is now famous in each corner of Addis, especially the groceries and butcheries (Sega Bet). According to him, it has a taste where it is not sweet or sour but a test which is very drinkable.

In one of the houses around Bole, this drink is sold at a price of 120 birr per jug and the same quantity and quality around Kazanchis costs 60 birr. Another thing that is very popular in Addis are aperitifs, particularly the ones made of a mix of gin, ambo and lemon.

Within this line of work is Dr. Apre, an aperitif maker that has been around Piazza for more than forty years is renowned among the aperitif lovers. With the white gown he wears he was able to get the name of Doctor. In this small bar Ashenafi comes to get a good aperitif, he doesn’t care about there not being an available seat or whether it is clean or not, he is here for the drink and the conversation. Comprised of the older generation, whenever Ashenafi comes to this place he is given aice, reminding him that age is a sign of wisdom.

Apart from that the heated conversations revolving around football and politics takes him in. Starting from the Ethiopian premier leagues to the England big football clubs, everything is discussed and he is given an expert’s view on things. These are also the places that are perfect as an informal platform for political conversations, especially pro and anti government talk about poverty, justice system and simply a lot of venting. It hurts the pocket but the conversation, music, alcohol, boiled eggs (a customary meal for drinkers), and tipsy feeling makeup for it.

For those who say Addis is not vibrant during the nights should meet people like Sosina Ketema and her group of friends. Sosina and her friends are always up for a party and are always aware of any house party or free drink event happening in town. The house parties they go to the extreme and any kind of alcohol is poured like water. In some of the house parties people drink gin, vodka straight from the bottle.

There are scenes that might take some by surprise like two people standing on a table, one of the guys drinking from the bottle and pouring it on his body. Even though they are usually by invitation only, as they say, Addis is a small city, and many end up knowing where the parties are. The after parties of the concerts are also places for free drinks.

It is not only the house parties but also some of the private bars owned by business people that are only by invitation. Being invited to this bar means you can drink whatever you want without any limitations.

Despite all this, for those who enjoy the making of a cocktail, mixologist bartender Sintayehu Nigatu alcohol is one of the exciting things. He explains how to make a Cosmopolitan (a mix of vodka, cranberry juice, lemon and ice) and how shaking is important.

Working at Black Rose and Suba Lounge for quite some time with his Sex on the Beach, Screw Drivers, Long Islands, Mojitos and Pina Coladas, he likes to see the satisfaction of his customers. Since most of the mixing is done with juice and soda, he says people drink a lot and usually there is no hangover. He studies the different types of alcohol and how to mix them. With this the website called the bar helped him out. He does not mix alcohols that cannot be mixed like whiskey but he tries to experiment on it what he calls the French Connection (usually made of a mix of cognac and amaretto) and adding Bacardi rum. Usually customers come up to him and ask him what they want with a very special order of mixing and he also gives them a show. With a growing interest for cocktail bars like Mojito, around the Atlas area, they are growing with customers.

Even though many despise alcohol, drawing moral ground, many experiment with many things when they are in university. And for Daniel Haileyesus, the bars around the universities such as Che Guevara, Country House and Treasure were filled with special moments. After graduation the drinking and smoking continued to be a habit for life.

For the past 12 years he has been hanging out in the bars like Sefer and Samy Bar around Tele bole area. These are the places where everyone knows his name and he knows everyone. Enjoying the good feelings of beer he also knows his limitations.

There are humorous stories in most of his nights. Going out with his two women colleagues where he ended up giving them code names like spies.

He told them if they want to leave they have to touch their nose and to stay they have to touch their ears.

With the tella and tej culture, Gebreselassie Sifer, Deputy Commercial Manager of BGI – producer of St. George and Amber beers – believes the consumption of beer is growing. On every occasion in Addis there is always beer. A culture that encourages beer and denounces intoxication, Gebreselassie believes St. George’s low alcohol content makes things easier.

Beer being an urban phenomenon with the need of a cooling system the 90 years old beer is able to penetrate the townships and the new coming cities. He says that many beer companies are also exploring the market. Now their consumption in average is 7.5 to 8 million liters per day.

The number fluctuates, where the biggest consumption happens on the weekends. For some people the drinking goes to extremes where they drink liquor with large alcohol contents not only on the weekends but also on weekdays. Even though with the hangover people like Anteneh Tessema swear to themselves not to ever drink again but the next day they are on it. Even those who go out on the weekends end up being wasted. The scene of the night changes after a certain point. Going to Le Bateau Ivre around Kazanchis, which is now closed, men getting naked and pouring drinks all over their bodies were unforgettable scenes. And in town, after 2 am after midnight things start to change, drunk drivers, vomiting, people being intimate, violence and passed out people take over the night.

Source : The Reporter

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