Objective: This paper assesses the usability of existing alcohol survey data in South Africa (SA) by documenting the type of data available, identifying what possible analyses could be done using these existing datasets in SA and exploring limitations of the datasets. Settings: A desktop review and in-depth semi-structured interviews were used to identify existing alcohol surveys in SA and assess their usability. Participants: We interviewed 10 key researchers in alcohol policies and health economics in SA (four women and six men). It consisted of academic/researchers (n=6), government officials (n=3) and the alcohol industry (n=1). Primary and secondary outcome measures The desktop review examined datasets for the level of the data, geographical coverage, the population surveyed, year of data collection, available covariables, analyses possible and limitations of the data. The 10 in-depth interviews with key researchers explored informant’s perspective on the usability of existing alcohol datasets in SA. Results: In SA, alcohol data constraints are mainly attributed to accessibility restrictions on survey data, limited geographical coverage, lack of systematic and standardised measurement of alcohol, infrequency of surveys and the lack of transparency and public availability of industry data on production, distribution and consumption. Conclusion: The International Alcohol Control survey or a similar framework survey focusing on substance abuse should be considered for implementation at the national level. Also, alcohol research data funded by the taxpayers’ money and alcohol industry data should be made publicly available.