The legal drinking
age in Gambia is 18, but not strictly followed because so few
people consume alcohol. Drinking is prohibited by the Islamic
faith, and this reflects greatly on the attitude of Gambians towards
alcoholómost abstain from drinking, selling, and having it present
in their compound.
Most alcoholic drinking is done by tourists and Christians; even
if you donít fit into this category, as long as you arenít Muslim
you wonít be looked down upon for indulging in alcohol. Box wine
(as well as a variety of imported European spirits) can be had
cheaply from supermarkets and
local restaurants. Julbrew,
locally brewed and bottled, is tasty and fairly cheap. Palm wine
is an inexpensive delicacy not to be missed.
Beer and Spirits:
These are on sale in the majority of hotels
or in their vicinity. They sell the popular domestic and foreign
brands. Prices are not extremely high. Milk can be obtained in
supermarkets, just like the most important drink: Water.
Wonjo juice, also called sour juice, is dark cranberry-coloured
juice, made from boiling the dark red flower from the sorrel plant.
Often used for ices, this juice has a very sweet taste and is
especially refreshing when ice cold.
Another popular ice is called bwi which is an off-white sherbert
like concoction made from the baobab.
Such local drinks are made by mixing crushed ginger with lots
of sugar and water then chilled in bottles. Do be prepared as
it is pretty strong and can can have the effect of drinking a
sweet juice made from hot chilies!
There are several types of herbal infusions such as attaya
and kinkiliba (Combretum micranthum) whose leaves can be found
sold in dry form in some local market or being sold at local tea
stands in the mornings. It is often mixed with a lot of milk or
drunk with sugar only (lots of it).
In Gambia Coke, Fanta, and Sprite are locally bottled by Gambega
Ltd. and are very popular. If you want to take the bottle
away you must leave a non-refundable deposit. This is because
the bottles are sent back to the bottling factory by local retail
vendors for recycling.