These eight spots officially have some of the best mixologists in the UAE
World Class UAE is a nation-wide competition that sees the best bartenders in the city compete to represent the country at the Global Finals in Mexico City on August 21. The best of the best battled it out over three rounds, the last held at Lucky Voice earlier in the year. The votes have been cast, so here are the eight venues that are now said to serve the best mixed beverages in the UAE...
Ají Just like the food, the mixed drinks at Ají, created by Emilio Valencia, put Japanese twists on classic Peruvian tipples and vice versa, and you’ll encounter plenty of ingredients you’ve never heard of before (matcha and pear cryogenic ice powder to name just one). Valencia scooped the People’s Choice Award at the World Class UAE finals. Head to Ají to find out why. Open daily noon-1am. Club Vista Mare, The Palm Jumeirah (04 552 0244).
Bar 44 This smart venue in Grosvenor House doesn’t always generate a lot of buzz. But when it comes to mixed drinks, it’s something of a hidden gem. Ruslan Svezhenko doesn’t take things too seriously when it comes to creating menus, so despite Bar 44’s upscale image you can order playful drinks named after movie characters (which were among the creations he presented at the World Class UAE final). Open Fri-Wed 4pm-1am, Thu 4pm-2am. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
Buddha-Bar Another from Grosvenor House, Buddha-Bar has long been a giant on the city’s nightlife scene, not least because of its expertly made beverages. Francesco Galdi’s World Class final entry was a quirky Super Mario Bros-themed pop-up experience, and while we aren’t expecting Buddha-Bar to incorporate that theme any time soon, you can still expect a menu full of unusual creations. Open Sat-Wed 7pm-1.30am. Thu-Fri 7pm-2.30am. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
Junoon This hangout is the Dubai branch of Junoon NYC which currently holds one Michelin star, but it’s not all about the food. Be sure to have a pre- or post -dinner drink in the lounge, where Manja Stankovic’s inventions are made from, for example, malt, red grape, lemon juice, egg white and dehydrated shiitake. Sun-Wed noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight; Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-12.30am; Fri noon-3.30pm, 7pm-12.30am; Sat noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight. Shangri-La Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 405 2717).
Little Black Door We’re not surprised that the talented Jeremias Barna of Little Black Door is the man heading to Mexico this month to represent the UAE in the World Class Global Finals. Little Black Door is the sort of place that exudes a mysterious coolness from the moment you walk in. And the same can be said of its beverage menu, which is full of ingredients that you would never expect to see together, let alone in a mixed drink (such as Greek yoghurt, lime, salt and black pepper). Somehow, Barna makes them work. So much so that he is officially the UAE’s best bartender. Open Mon-Sun 7.30pm-3am. The Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (055 623 1620).
Morah This whimsical bar is pretty, picturesque and bright, but when it comes to mixed drinks it’s something of a dark horse, making it to the finals of a national beverage-making competition after being open a mere months. Sigrid Sarv’s entry to the finals was a mix of Kentucky tea and malt, and there are plenty more tea-based drinks on Morah’s menu, made with everything from Turkish delight tea to Moroccan mint and Lapsang. You’ll also find decidedly Middle Eastern and Mediterannean concoctions on the menu, featuring intriguing ingredients such as “Mediterannean” syrup, and hibiscus-infused beverages mixed with orange blossom and smoke. Open daily 6pm-2am. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 560 1799).
The Restaurant A brand-new spot that recently opened at the Address Boulevard in Downtown, The Restaurant has stayed mostly under the radar. Until now, that is. A surprising entry to the World Class UAE finals, Tatiana Pertegato’s creations are worth making a detour to Downtown for. Her beverages are infused with everything from butterscotch to brioche bread to cherry shrub to veal bacon. If you’re in the mood to sip something unexpected, this is your place. Open 24 hours. Address Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 561 8555).
Zuma This entry needs little introduction for either its restaurant or lounge. Mixed drinks are light and refreshing with fruity ingredients such as mint, cinnamon, apple, rhubarb and Japanese beverages. They’re crowd-pleasing creations, but they’re some of the best in the city, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find drinks that are more precisely crafted anywhere. Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. Gate Village 06, DIFC (04 425 5660).