Despite what you might read it’s possible to get beer and wine in Kerala – here’s our guide to how and where get a Beer in Cochin. Beer and Wine parlours or “hotels” can be found throughout Fort Kochi and this is how to find them.
In 2014 it was announced that in part to combat problems of alcoholism in the state of Kerala, that the state would be “dry”. It’s not the only dry state. Gujarat and Nagaland are also dry. So getting a beer in Cochin might be a lot tougher. The difference between the other dry states and Kerala? Kerala relies on western tourism for a great deal of income. And so its possible to buy beer and wine and sometimes liquor in Kochi. Because, you know, sometimes, after a day out in India, a beer is really good.
There have been a variety of changes since 2014, which officially shut all bars apart from 5-star hotels. Generally you can get beer and wine in Beer and Wine Parlours, in hotels (and note that hotels sometimes means restaurant in India). So, don’t worry if you are heading to Kerala on vacation, you’ll be able to get beer, wine and liquor, you might just need to look for it.
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Can You Drink Alcohol in Kerala ?
Yes. It is not illegal to drink alcohol in Kerala today. It’s not 5 years since the governing bodies of Kerala envisaged and started moves to make Kerala a dry state by 2025. Since the LDF party came to power in 2016 it has made moves to reverse this. Since June 2017 hotels with three and four star ratings were allowed to sell Indian-made foreign drinks.
Two star hotels could also sell beer and wine and run beer and wine parlours as long as his wasn’t within 500 metres of a highway.
It is relatively easy to buy and drink beer and wine in Kerala and Kochi. Here are the places to do that in Kochi.
Where to Get Beer in Kochi
The State Beer and Wine Shops
You didn’t used to be able to buy alcohol from a supermarket here, but that is starting to change. Until it changes completely you will need to find a Kerala Government Beer and Wine shop. They aren’t marked on Google and any self respecting auto rickshaw driver will tell you it is a “long, long way away”. However, the closest state beer and wine store to Fort Kochi isn’t that far from the main tourist area of Kochi.
This is where Fort Kochi’s closest beer and wine shop is on the Google Map above, so you can find it easily.
And this is what the State Beer and Wine Shop in Fort Kochi looks like from the outside. Scary huh?
If you’re not feeling up to a walk, then grab an auto rickshaw or tuk tuk and have him wait for you and bring you back. We paid 60 INR from the Santa Cruz Basilica to return to the same place. Just tell him Beer and Wine Shop.
When you’ve bought your beer why not check out some of the World’s Best Beer Snacks and figure out what you should be eating with your Indian Beer in Fort Kochi?
When NOT to buy Beer from a State Shop
You don’t want to be buying your beer and liquor between 5 pm and around 8 pm. That’s when everyone else is. And by everyone else, I mean of course the Keralan man. You won’t find any Indian women either standing in a line to buy beer here or in the Kochi bars.
After around 5 pm, the lines at the state beer and wine shops start to build. They’re not a nice place to be. (If you’re a woman alone, don’t even think about it) This isn’t an organized line. This is like your worst train ticket buying/bus boarding line nightmare ten times over.
No Cold Beer At Shops After 6pm
Be aware also that after 6pm you’re unlikely to get a cold beer, because they all sold out. Unless you have a fridge or are prepared to deal with warm beer, then that’s all you’ll be stuck with. BUY EARLY! Or go to a “hotel” for your beer.
Cost of Beer at a State Shop
You’ll pay 65 INR for a 650ml bottle of Kingfisher premium at the state shop, and perhaps 500 INR for a litre bottle of Indian (Blue Riband) gin.
If you want to go out and drink beer outside of your room or balcony.. there are several places to buy beer and alcohol in Kochin.
There isn’t a bar scene in Kochi as such. More you’ll enjoy a beer, or a glass of wine in a hotel, a beer and wine parlour or with your meal. However, we found a few bars in Kochi, so here are the details. Please do update us if you find new ones!
The XL Bar Fort Kochi
You’ll find this on Google called the XL Fishnet Bar (not a stocking fishnet in sight, but I think more for the Chinese fishing nets). This is one of the pubs in Kochi. It was an upstairs bar with (cold) beer and loud music. It’s on Rose Street.
The Cochin Fort Hotel
While this “hotel” is a restaurant that serves reasonable food, it also has an area that serves more as a “beer garden” and you’ll find this populated with western tourists.
They also provide free wifi (that actually works!). However, it’s usually pretty busy, so getting a seat might prove difficult. There’s also an undercover/pseudo inside area, but this isn’t as pleasant to sit in. For us this was one of the best bars in Kochi, although its actually called a beer parlour in Fort Kochi.
Next to Fort Cochin Hotel is the Number 18 Boutique Hotel
This is more set up for eating (they do a good vegetable pakora and peanut masala as beer snacks), but beer and drinks are available and they don’t harass you if all you want to do is drink. They claim to provide wifi, but the signal isn’t strong enough to reach most tables and we never got it working.
This is one of the more pleasant – as in it was quiet, the beer was very cold and the music relatively low – bars in Fort Kochi.
Hotels such as Koder House, the Malibar, the Taj
The Koder House by the Parade Ground has a bar, so too do the Malibar Hotel and the Vivanta by Taj hotels, if you’re prepared to pay their more expensive prices. These hotels have the more traditional hotel bar in Fort Kochi, but you’ll pay for it!
Restaurants that serve “Special Tea”
There are of course those restaurants that will serve you “special tea”. That of course is the nom de guerre for beer where there is no license to sell it. It will be served to you in tea cups (I kid you not) and your bottle(s) of beer will remain under the table when you’re not topping up your cups. Most places we ate at had this arrangement (you can see our reviews on TripAdvisor – we’re ASocialNomad)
It will be interesting to see how the alcohol ban from the state will take effect (and when) – expect things to change and those bars and hotels licensed to change as the ban takes effect – but as of now, grabbing a beer in Kochi wasn’t too difficult, so long as you know where to look! We bought beer and gin from the liquor store and headed back to home base, which for us was the fabulous Das Residency You can check out prices and availability here. .
Did you find anywhere else to get a beer? Drop us a line through the comments field!
Like Indian food and drink enough to travel for it? Here’s our guide to Awadhi Cuisine in Lucknow, and check out what to eat in Amristar in the Punjab. Then there’s our guide of what to eat in Jaipur and how to get a beer in Fort Kochi. If you’re more of a wine drinker, then our guide to Indian wine tasting is here.
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