Rows of yellow-labeled whiskey bottles sit alongside imported French wines, while cans of Korean beer chill in the fridge: with Iraq’s Mosul free of jihadists, the booze is back. The city spent three years under the iron-fisted rule of the Islamic State group, which punished those caught drinking alcohol with public lashings or worse.
But more than a year since Iraqi forces ousted the jihadists from Mosul, liquor stores are flourishing. The western commercial district of Al-Duwasa is home to several modest outlets, including Khairallah Tobey’s. The enterprising 21-year-old bounced between well-stocked shelves, pulling down bottles of beer priced at an affordable 1,500 Iraqi dinars-just over a dollar. “Our sales are good right now,” said Tobey, a member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority. Owners of Mosul’s bottle shops are all Yazidi or Christian, as Iraq does not grant alcohol licenses to Muslim citizens.