Having an expert mixologist behind the bar is a given for most of Abu Dhabi’s classiest nightspots, but some go over and above to create innovative mixed drinks, drawing on the bar’s heritage and style. Below you’ll find details of ten incredible bars that deliver on flavour blends and wow-factor presentation.
Barfly by Buddha-Bar
Venetian Village isn’t somewhere that you’d stumble upon, but those exploring the area are rewarded with some great bars and restaurants. At the top of the pile, Barfly by Buddha-Bar is one of the liveliest nightspots in the city, but there’s more to the modern venue than a party. Step outside the venue and settle into the outdoor area on the beach that enjoys views over the glistening waters of Khor Al Maqta. Grab a drink and watch the sun fade before heading back inside to hear DJs play big beats well into the early hours.
Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal (056 177 7557).
This trendy beach bar is the kind of place where the mixologists set fire to the drinks, spin bottles in the air and create concoctions so pretty it almost seems a shame to polish them off. Wherever you see the Buddha-Bar brand around the world, you know you’re in for good tunes, delicious Asian food and an excellent time. The mixed drinks are created with ingredients that have been sourced from around the world, making this a truly global experience. The setting is also amazing, right on the beach of Saadiyat Island, with sounds from a DJ and saxophonist accompanying the food and drinks.
St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi (02 498 8888).
Cho Gao Marina Walk
This is a venue that has totally nailed the pan-Asian theme, with bits and pieces from across the continent dotted around and the décor making you feel transported to Bangkok for a night out. There’s a big restaurant area, and the food here is excellent, but plenty of people come here just for the bar. And the drinks, especially those inspired by Asian flavours, are hugely popular and presented with a flourish. If you’re after a good all-rounder, this is the place.
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street (02 666 6888).
For a long time, this bar was a well-kept secret. The speakeasy-style spot is found down a corridor in the excellent Dai Pai Dong restaurant, and didn’t have much in the way of signage. It felt like a private members’ club that you’d stumbled into. Then, understandably, a door from the outside was added along with a sign pointing people straight to it. The mixologists are excellent here and use homemade cordials and spice blends to really go to town on the drinks, which are created and presented with more than a touch of panache. Read our latest review over the page.
Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 813 5550).
Iris Yas Island
This is a bar with serious pedigree. With sister venues in Beirut and Dubai, there are high expectations before you even see the menu. There’s a super-cool indoor-outdoor layout, which opens up in the capital’s cooler months and can be contained once the temperatures rise. The drinks menu is filled with classics, but we recommend asking the bartender to create something based on your tastes. We know some don’t appreciate requests, but these guys really do.
Yas Marina, Yas Island (055 160 5636).
It’s one of the most stylish places to grab a drink in the city, with a chic design and all the swagger of a ‘50s hotel lobby. This indoor bar with a literary-theme (obviously) is a great place to have a nightcap or meet a friend for some of their expertly mixed drinks. There’s even a whole section of the menu dedicated to juniper-based beverages so you can enjoy something hand-crafted on your visit.
The EDITION Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen (02 407 1234).
This bar is part of COYA, the truly excellent Peruvian/Nikkei spot on Al Maryah Island. Do yourself a favour and go for dinner, or brunch, and while you’re there make time for drink. It often hosts live music or DJs playing Latin-fusion, and on those nights the vibe is electric. Otherwise, you’ll find the bar has a relaxed post-work buzz, with the majority of visitors enjoying the bar’s namesake drink.
The Galleria Al Maryah Island (02 306 7000).
A stunning restaurant that serves some serious Indian food. The dishes are filled with invention and flavour, and the drinks served at the bar are no different. The atmospheric space is surrounded by huge copper bells hanging from the ceiling (Tamba means copper in Hindi). The menu changes regularly, being updated to pair with the seasonal food menu. It means you’ll never get bored here, especially if you get to know one of the bartenders, who’ll happily try out new things on regulars.
The Hub at The Mall at the WTC, Al Markaziyah (02 672 8888).
Always near the top of to-do lists for tourists or people showing visiting friends and family around, Ray’s Bar could be forgiven for cashing in on its lofty position 62 floors up in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. However, it manages to be cosy. It’s not the cheapest place, in fact, it’s on the expensive side. However, for the chance to drink in the view, as well as creations from the bartenders, we think it’s worth it. There’s nothing too surprising on the menu, but if you’re after a classic mint and lime drink, they don’t come much better anywhere in the city.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche (02 811 5666).
There’s very little not to love about this incredibly cool Japanese restaurant and bar. You can watch as expert sushi chefs create hand-made morsels to order at the centrepiece of the restaurant, flanked by dark wood fittings and huge bottle displays on the far walls and bar. It’s chic, effortlessly cool and impressive all the way from the décor down to everything on the menu and behind the bar where all the bases are covered from Japanese rice drinks, mixed drinks and hops.
Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).