Coffee & Drink in Islamabad
Drinking alcohol in public is nominally banned although most of the top end hotels have their own bars, as do some of the larger embassies if you befriend a diplomat. The windowless basement sports bar in the Marriott is probably the most frequented of the hotel bars.
Most Pakistanis though would find it extremely rude and offensive if you show or drink alcohol in public. Night Life is exists, but it's not easy to find. There are no open 'night clubs' in the city - however periodic special events are organised in various venues about once every two months - spread by word-of-mouth. Less excitingly some of the embassy clubs in the diplomatic enclave have 'dance parties' and the like but these tend to be exclusively expatriate and rather low brow.
Non-Muslim visitors can obtain from the local police a so-called 'non-Muslim declaration'. This permit gives you the right to legally buy a limited amount of alcoholic drinks like bottles of wine or beer. For instance, Pakistan's small Christian minority is by law allowed to consume alcohol.
Try local brands like Murree Brewery, in addition to that there are other brands such as Budweiser and Bavaria with non-alcoholic beer. There is a small off-license around the side of the Marriot hotel (next to the dry cleaners) - you'll need a 'non-Muslim declaration' (or maybe just a foreign passport if you turn on the charm) to be able to buy anything.
In soft drinks, all the usual western brands are available but better to try local limca cola which makes "pop" sound when opened. you can also try Pakola; Pakistan’s premier soft drink brand which is available in different flavors like Ice cream soda, Lychee, Orange, Raspberry, Apple sidra, Vino, Double cola, Bubble up etc. A 'fresh lime 7-up' is a better alternative for people who don't like standard soft drinks.
In other drinks try strawberry milk shakes and dhamaka soda (dhamaka means bang - the bang that happens when one opens the bottle) from Jinnah super market.
- Gelato Affairs (Gelato Affairs), F-6 (Main Kohsar Market), 0512610919.
- Mocca Coffee, Shop #1, Kohsar Market, F-6/3 (Main Kohsar Market). The classic expat coffee shop - typically expensive with exclusive decor, display and sale of World-renowned contemporary Nordic design, such as Georg Jensen, Arne Jacobsen, Stelton, Eva-trio and Rosendahl.
- Jia's Deli, Beverly Centre, 0512814110. This café has a certain cosy charm. The low ceiling has photographs of their regular customers on display, and a few bright abstract oil paintings to brighten up its plain wooden walls. Bread is home made, and came in four varieties. Coffee is of extremely good quality, served with chocolates that appear to be hand-made: salted caramel, walnut and tiramisù, mocha java cake flavours all works real well. The service is spot on, with even minor details such as the topping up of bread faultless. There is an array of desserts and some great cakes.