Alcohol dependence (AD) has a large heritable component. Genetic variation in genes involved in the absorption and elimination of ethanol have been associated with AD. However, some of these polymorphisms are not present in an African population. Previous studies have reported that a type of AD which is characterized by anxious behaviour may be a genetically specific subtype of AD. We investigated whether variation in genes encoding cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) or acetaldehyde-metabolising enzymes (ALDH1A1, ALDH2) might alter the risk of AD, with and without symptoms of anxiety, in a Cape population with mixed ancestry. Eighty case control pairs (one with AD, one without AD) were recruited and individually matched for potential confounders. Genotype data were available for 29 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the three genes. Linkage disequilibrium D' values were evaluated for all pairwise comparisons. Allele and haplotype frequencies were compared between cases and controls using a χ2 test. The ACAG haplotype in block 4 of the ALDH1A1 gene provided evidence of an association with AD (p = 0.03) and weak evidence of an association with AD without symptoms of anxiety (p = 0.06). When a genetic score was constructed using SNPs showing nominal evidence of association with AD, every extra risk allele increased the odds of AD by 35% (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.08, 1.68, p = 0.008) and the odds of having AD with anxiety symptoms increased by 53% (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.14, 2.05, p = 0.004). Although our results are supported by previous studies in other populations, they must be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size and the potential influence of population stratification.