by Amy Menchhofer
At the tender age of 23 I was carded while waiting to get into a disco. I didn’t have my ID with me and, although my three Spanish companions all proved they were pushing 30 and I insisted that my red metro pass meant I was at least 20, in the end I was denied entry to the bar. So that brings about the question: The drinking age is 18, right? But do they enforce it?
The short answer is no. The long answer is sometimes.
Unless you look extremely young, you’re unlikely to get carded at any neighborhood-type bar or restaurant. If anywhere, you’ll find more resistance at the more “upscale” bars and clubs, particularly those popular with the post-university aged crowd. So if those are your venues of choice, it’s probably best to slip your ID in your pocket.
In regards to purchasing liquor, a similar guideline applies. I’ve been carded once while buying hard liquor at one of the larger bodegas. And it’s not uncommon to see clearly-underaged kids refused service at the local grocery store. Some of them have locked cabinets requiring you to request your drink of choice from the sales staff, and making it impossible for your purchase to slip under the radar. On the other hand, it’s extremely improbable that the non-chain, late-night convenience stores ever request an ID. They also frequently ignore the midnight deadline for purchases.
In short, although lack of an ID will not prevent you from enjoying the famous Madrid nightlife, if you want to guarantee your entry to a disco or grab a bottle of Brugal at the grocer don’t forget your ID!