Choosing the city’s best bar was no easy task. Nevertheless, we plumped for Buddha Bar, not least due to the gobsmacking design of the place. Through the imposing front doors and into the massive multi-level interior, Buddha Bar doesn’t so much ooze style as scream it from the rafters (in a sophisticated way, of course). Taking its cue from the original branch in Paris, red chandeliers sway above a gigantic statue of Buddha, and the dimly lit interior is all plush carpets and private coves. On any given evening, groups of well-heeled patrons pack the bar area, paying credit-busting prices for fancy cocktails and expensive champagnes. This brash, over-the-top concept is something that you’ll either love or hate, but there’s certainly nothing else like it in town, and for that we applaud its rather blatant audacity.
Après is a ski lodge-meets-’70s lounge-meets-DJ-bar that somehow manages to find a happy compromise between its many guises. Stocked with every conceivable drink under the sun, the staff whip up arguably the best cocktails in the whole city, and the food is pretty good too. A bar located in a theme park/shopping mall really shouldn’t work, but this one defies the odds – almost as much as the snow dome it sits next to.
BarZar’s waterside terrace is one of the most popular drinking spots in the city, and it’s not hard to see why. Set in the Madinat’s bustling souk, there are two indoor levels and a patio. Big screen TVs show the major sports events, and a lively band on the ground-floor contrasts with a DJ upstairs. Our favourite spot, however, is outside by the water, lounging on a beanbag with a shisha pipe in one hand and a cocktail in the other.
A number of wine bars have sprung up across the city in recent years, yet Cin Cin still ranks among the finest. Head into the main bar area on any given night and you’ll find a good vibe and a lively but smart crowd. We actually prefer the sofas and Sheikh Zayed Road views in the Cigar Lounge, where Cuban rollers play perfect sidekick to a warming spirit or a glass of red – a slice of Dubai luxury that makes the traffic jams outside seem worthwhile. Almost.
Blue Bar easily made it into our list for its true originality – it is Dubai’s one authentic jazz and, obviously, blues bar, showcasing some genuine local talent. But that’s not the only reason to pay a visit. Located on the ground floor of the businesslike Novotel, Blue Bar combines fashionable decor, cigars and an unusually good selection of draught Belgian beers. Just make sure that when you go live music is scheduled.
Just Missed Out:
Oscar’s Vine Society
Although it’s located several floors up in the air at the Crowne Plaza, Oscar’s does a pretty good impression of a French wine-tasting cellar – hence the dimmed lights, wooden barrels and chalkboards etched with hearty food and wine menus. What really works, counts however, are the smattering of French staff who take pride in the authentic food and good wine selection. Encouragingly, they also know what they’re talking about should you ask for any recommendations from the drinks menu – a service that is sadly lacking in many other venues. For this reason, Oscar’s is more than worthy of a seat at the top table of Dubai’s bar scene.
A small living room-style drinkerie with plenty of sofas and armchairs to ease yourself into for the evening, it seems the philosophy of Vista is all in the name: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Which is unusual in our ‘ever new and improved’ home city – and why we therefore love the place. As well as the lengthy wine list and its many antiquated bottles, the food menu is spot-on. Stick to the traditional dishes to accompany the wine – you’ll never tire of the cheeseboard with cured meats. A venue for those who appreciate the finer things in life.
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