If you're dining out in Colombo and enjoy a tipple with your meal, you could potentially be faced with two problems:
A couple of restaurants have wiggled out of this dilemma, sometimes by lack of choice (liquor licences are tough yo), by letting you bring in your own booze without corkage fees. It's actually enhanced the experience in many cases. Here's a list of some popular BYOB places in the city. Remember to bring along the bill of your alcohol purchase just in case.
One of our 5 star picks for CMB dining, August does some lovely Mediterranean cuisine for dinner. Set in beautiful premises in Shirohana Atelier, it's the perfect setting for some romance and a nice bottle of champagne. It's a wine only spot, so don't rock up there with a bottle of gal arakku or anything. Book well in advance, they're usually busy.
The Japanese restaurant at the charming Zylan Villas, Zen is a great spot for a bit of lunchtime sushi or late evening romance. They also allow you to bring whatever alcohol you'd like to have with your meal, which cuts down on your meal cost considerably!
Giovanni's is one of our favourite pizza spots in the city. With quality pies and friendly service, it's a strong option for a casual dinner. To be honest, we do generally get takeout or delivery, but their dine-in experience is pretty good too and they're totally fine with you bringing in some alcohol to offset your meal.
JoJo's place is yet another beachside Chinese restaurant where you can go with a bunch of your friends for a weekend tipple, enjoy some good Sri Lankanised Chinese food while enjoying the blissful views of the Mount Lavinia beach and the glorious sunsets. They have some great Hot Butter Cuttlefish and have BYOB for a corkage fee of Rs. 500 per bottle, which is pretty good.
A great place to get some seafood, The Fat Crab down Haig Road is one place you can make a mess while eating and not feel bad about it. They have a BYOB for a corkage fee of Rs. 1000 per bottle. Alors, Mange! Mon ami.
Sister to Barracuda in Wellawatte, Breeze Baracuda is a fairly new resto in Galle Face Green. Almost a breath of fresh air for those of you who don't want kottu or wade, Breeze Barracuda serves both western and eastern fare. You can bring your own bottle, and they don't charge a corkage fee for bills over Rs. 1500.
Found in a pretty secluded part of Mount Lavinia, Buba Restaurant and Beach Club has a corkage fee of Rs 250 per bottle. Compared to some other places, Buba can be a bit steep in terms of pricing. However, the stuff we tried out was pretty tasty and a plus point, you've got the beach at your fingertips.
Park Street Trattoria is yet another restaurant in Colombo featuring Italian cuisine. A while back when they didn't have a liquor license, they had no corkage fee but now they do have a fee, which "depends." That's all they wanted to tell us. Save for the nervous/ awkward laughter.
Colombo has a truckload of Chinese restaurants and 168 Seafood Palace is just another one on the list. While being one of the oldest names in the book, 168 allows you to bring your own booze, and it's corkage-free.
Chatz is one of the oldest members in the Colombo cafe scene. Bring all the booze you want, they don't charge a corkage fee.
Good pizzas, reasonable food, and friendly service. Dolce Italia's Rajagiriya branch is good for a lunch/dinner, and they let you BYOB too!
You can BYOB at the English Cake Company, but only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 5 - 7 pm. Only wine and beer are allowed, and it's corkage free.
Upali's is the go-to place for Lankan food in an upscale setting. It's great food that isn't too pricey, but they're very popular so book ahead. In our experience, they're okay with bringing booze in, but double check when you make your reservation.
There's nothing better than booze and barbecue, and M'eat US delivers both. Also, it's corkage free (yay!). They dish out some of the best western barbecues we've tried and their meat platters are ideal if you're dining as a group. Available in Pelawatte and Colombo 07.
Box Colony in Battaramulla has a nice space along with a big garden area as well as a quirky container box based building set up. While their food could use some improvement, it's a good quiet place to BYOB and chill with friends. There's no corkage fee.
The name Isso doesn't leave much to the imagination, and as the name implies, it's the safest bet in Colombo to satisfy all sorts of isso cravings. They've got BYOB now - available only at their Colombo 3 branch and it's free of a corkage fee. However, this offer is valid only for beer and wines - no hard liquor!
A lot of the old school Chinese spots like 88, Xilaton etc also let you bring booze in, just call ahead and check. Happy tippling, and drink responsibly!
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