Drinking in Bars in Gran Canaria – Don’t Get Ripped Off!

For most people, drinking is part of the fun if they are going on holiday. Some people like a glass of local wine on the balcony while they enjoy the balmy Canarian air. Others like to go out and drink as much as possible and dance the night away in one of the Gran Canaria discos. 🙂

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Photo by Kirti Poddar

However much you like to drink and whatever your preferred poison might be, here are some tips about drinking and bars in Gran Canaria and how to get your money’s worth:

  1. A lot of bars in Gran Canaria have touts outside who lure you in with the promise of “a free drink”. Now the phrase “a free drink” is usually very attractive but surely you know there is no such thing as a free lunch (or a free drink). When you go in the bar the waiter will ask you what you want, then bring your drinks with a free shot (probably peach schnapps which is 70 cents a bottle from the Cash & Carry). You pay for the drinks but the bar generously gives you 5 cents worth of peach schnapps “for free”. It’s false advertising but a lot of bars do it. Don’t go into a bar because of the “free drink” offer – pick a bar you like the look of instead. Good tip: the good bars don’t need touts outside to drag people in.
  2. There are brand name spirits in Gran Canaria (like Smirnoff) and the infamous “local spirits” (like Stolichoff). Smirnoff and Stolichoff are worlds apart. Another one is gin. There is brand name Gin (Gordons) and local gin (Larios). You might not mind trying the local spirits since they are 2-for-1 (so for 3 euros you can have one Smirnoff and coke or 2 Stolichoff and cokes) but bear in mind most bars use Larios to wipe down the bars at the end of the night because it dissolves anything and it’s cheaper than Windolene. 😐 You could probably also use it to thin paint or remove nail polish. The local spirits give me a severe headache and taste vile. Be warned! 🙁
  3. If you want cocktails, go to a cocktail bar! In other bars you pay 5 euros for a “cocktail” made from local spirits and “magic cocktail mix” which is a revolting sugary mixture coloured to resemble whichever cocktail you have ordered. Sex on the Beach is supposed to be a mixture of vodka, cranberry juice, peach schnapps and orange juice. If you want this, go to a cocktail bar. If you want “magic Sex on the Beach cocktail mix”, orange juice and local peach schnapps (and a headache), go to a cheap bar. You can order vodka and orange juice for half the price of a magic cocktail mix recipe and all that’s missing is 5 cents worth of local peach schnapps and the cranberry juice (which hardly any bars stock anyway).

Now, rather than trying to spread doom and gloom, I am trying to save you a few euros. The above might be common rip offs in tourist resorts but you don’t have to go into the first bar that offers you a “free drink”.

Also, watch your drinks being poured. I’ve ordered (and paid for) Gordon’s gin and been given Larios (the difference is really obvious). You might like to try some local Canarian wines to accompany your Canarian cooking. You can get these in Spar or Hiperdino (or Netto if you don’t mind paying more for the same thing).

And yes maybe I am a tight-wad but I don’t like getting ripped off!! I’ve worked in bars here and I know all the tricks 🙂

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Bottoms up!!! 😀

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