Tuesday, February 17, 2004

In Baghdad's bustling liquor trade, the ancient Roman buyer's warning, caveat emptor, might better be translated as "let the drinker beware."

With no import taxes and no laws governing the sale of alcohol, and a post-war influx of foreigners with a taste for it, sales of liquor, beer and wine are brisk.

But among the real bottles are impostor elixirs masquerading as legitimate top-shelf brands.

"There are fakes and people who cheat you," said Salam Bahnam, who owns a liquor shop in Baghdad's Karrada district. "The original scotch is Scottish. The fakes are from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Sweden."...

Jalal Hoshabir, who runs a neighboring shop he opened in mid-January, said the bogus bottles come from home-made stills in Baghdad and northern Iraq, and from outside the country.

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