Booze cruising for a bruising at Bulgarian seaside resort

Foreign tourists in Bulgaria’s popular Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach are imbibing alcohol at astonishingly cheap prices – or prices that are not so astonishing given that it seems that some of the booze is fake and perhaps downright dangerous.

A visit to the resort by local media, along with customs and tax officials, found that some of the alcohol being served lacked excise bands and, for that matter, bottles were being refilled by funneling in liquor of unclear origin.

On top of that, in spite of Bulgaria’s strengthened anti-smoking laws that came into effect at the start of summer, banning lighting up in enclosed public spaces such as bars and restaurants, it was clear that the ban was being widely flouted, according to a report by local television station bTV.

At discos in the resort, people were smoking in spite of signs reminding that this was illegal, the report said.

Vodka cocktails selling for three leva (about 1.50 euro) and offers of five cocktails for 20 leva were linked in the report to the selling of ersatz booze of lower alcohol content than stated on the labels and, on the other side of the coin, to dangerous beverages that bore the risk of alcohol poisoning.

Bulgarian Customs Agency official Mariana Rousseva said that at one restaurant, an inspection had found 52 bottles lacking excise labels. Chemical tests established that the alcohol content was two degrees less than that stated on the bottle.

Toxicologist Dr Luba Pavlova said that in July 2012, there had been 23 cases of alcohol poisoning, and from early to mid-August, 14. “Worryingly, among those seeking medical help were minors,” Pavlova said.

The report quoted Georgi Nikolchev, a member of the board of the union of owners of Sunny Beach AD, as saying that the problem was not alcohol tours, but what came after them. He acknowledged that two to three leva for a vodka-and-mixer drink was “not a normal price”.

Foreign tourists seemed happy to be able to consume large quantities of alcohol, caring about the quantity but not the quality, the report said.



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.