You probably know that Iran is a free-alcohol country, as it is forbidden. Yet, it doesn't mean that Iranians don't know how to enjoy the nightlife, with cafes, restaurants, and streets always full of people in the main cities, especially during the warm evenings of spring and summer. If you can find lots of non-alcoholic cocktails and beers, traditional Iranian drinks are a much tastier option. Here is what's waiting for you during your trip to Iran:
Whatever the time of the day or the night, from a cold evening to a hot one, expect Iranians to be found drinking tea. "Chai" is somehow the national drink, that you'll be offered everywhere: houses, restaurants, "Chaikhane" (teahouse), cafes, etc. Tea in Iran is most of the time black tea, served with "Ghand" (sugar cube) or "Nabat" (sugar candy).
However, since the 19th century, Iran is also a nation of coffee lovers, which was introduced by British traders. "Ghahve" is not as systematic as tea, but all cities are full of trendy coffeehouses. Expresso, Americano, Cappucino, Macchiato, and other types of coffee are on the menu, along with various distillation techniques to offer different experiences.
If tea and coffee keep you awake all night long, you'd better opt for a "Damnoosh", the Iranian herbal teas. Damnoosh is a mixture of different herbs, with hot waters, sugar and often saffron. The most famous is chamomile ("Babooneh"), orange blossom ("Bahar Narenj"), borage ("Gol Gav Zaban"), lemon beebrush ("Beh Limoo"), or mint ("Na'na"). Don't forget to buy some of these dry plants in one of Iran's bazaars, to reproduce at home these tasty and healthy drinks.
Sharbat is one of the most refreshing and delightful Iranian drinks. It's a cold drink made out of flower waters and petals, syrups, fruits, and seeds. The tradition of drinking some of this sharbat is quite ancient as they also have many health benefits. There are many types of Sharbat, but the classical ones can be found in every cafe and restaurant. Among the most popular are "Bidmeshk" (Distillate pussy willow with rosa canina), "Bahar Narenj" (orange blossom), "Sekanjabin" (honey, cucumber, and vinegar), "Khakshir" (seeds and rose water), "Tokhm Sharbati" (chia seeds in distillate rose water) and "Albaloo" (sour cherry syrup).
Doogh is a Persian cold drink made of sour yoghurt, salt and water and mint herbs. This savoury drink is a must complimentary for Iranian meals and more especially, Kebab. In Isfahan, there is a well-known national snack whose leading role is doogh which comes along with a sweet pastry called Gooshfil. You can find a large variety of homemade and factory-made doogh drinks with different flavours and aromatic herbs in every city or region in Iran.
Iran is a paradise for natural juices, with fresh and tasty products directly mixed with ice, or ice cream. It's refreshing and full of vitamins. "Juice" is called "ab" (water), along with the name of the different ingredients. The most appreciated are "Ab Anar" (pomegranate) with its slightly sour taste, "Ab Porteghal" (orange), "Ab Sib" (apple), "Ab Hendune" (watermelon), "Ab Karafs" (celery) and "Ab Talebi" (melon). One of the most typical and surprising juice is "Ab Havij" (carrot), often served with a chunk of saffron ice cream.
If you think that going out without drinking a sip of wine or clinking beer mugs isn't for you, Iran will change your mind. If alcoholic drinks are forbidden in the country, Iranians have many alternatives to enjoy the night and get some refreshments, from traditional tea to delicious "Sharbat" and juices.