(Tiki) bars in Dubai


Dubai is a crazy city, and I can certainly understand why it's called "the Las Vegas of the Middle East" with the world's largest tower, the only seven star hotel and an indoor ski slope with 6.000 tons of snow. You quickly find out that it's also kind of difficult to get anywhere without a car, and even that can be a challenge. Nonetheless, I managed to visit some cocktail bars during my short stay, and noticed that sometimes you'd wonder if they put any alcohol in the drinks at all. I hear that the Death & Co. people are involved in a project called Ellipsis, and I hope that it will set the standard for the Dubai cocktail culture. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to visit all the bars suggested to me, so maybe I missed something. At least I know that I wouldn't mind going back soon again, as I believe I only touched the surface of what the city has got to offer.

Here are some short descriptions of the bars I visited:

Mai Tai @ Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge
Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge
Al Fattan Towers, 1st Floor, Jumeirah Walk, JBR

Trader Vic's describe their Mai Tai Lounge as a modern twist on their traditional concept, and in reality it means less tiki decor, more large flatscreen tv screens showing sports events, and pre-mixed cocktails. The Mai Tai I tried wasn't horrible, but it tasted like it was made with TV's Mai Tai mix. That together with the sports bar environment was somewhat disappointing.

Library Bar  @ The Ritz-Carlton
Library Bar @ The Ritz-Carlton
Jumeirah Walk, JBR

Elegant and cosy piano bar with an interesting cocktail list with classics and modern twists from Ritz-Carlton hotels all over the world.

Trader Vic's
Trader Vic's @ Crowne Plaza
Office Tower, 3rd Floor, Sheikh Zayed Road

The first Trader Vic's in Dubai, opened in 1994, can be found at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and still going strong. A bit too smoky for me, but the live band was a nice touch as people were happy, drinking and dancing. The Tiki Puka Puka I ordered was up to Trader Vic's normal standards, but I noticed that the bartenders made drinks in advance and put aside waiting for someone to order them - not OK!

Balcony Bar 
Balcony Bar @ Shangri-La Hotel
Sheikh Zayed Road

Small and elegant bar inside the Shangri-La, which at a first glance had an ambitious and interesting cocktail menu. However, after trying a few, I'd recommend others to order classics instead - if you're not feeling adventurous, of course.

Pirate Daiquiri @ Mahiki
Mahiki @ Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Jumeirah Beach Road

Brand new bar, opened just a week before Christmas - and it's absolutely stunning! If you're looking for some nice drinks in a relaxed setting, be early because after 9PM Mahiki turns into a hip nightclub. Great selection of booze and top notch cocktails - highly recommended.

Trader Vic's
Trader Vic's
Souk Madinat, Jumeirah Road

The second Trader Vic's in Dubai, opened in 2005. Larger restaurant area than the other two TV's, and more attention to detail. Smoky and lively bar with a familiar cocktail menu - I tried their signature drink (the name escapes me) which was very good and similar to Tiki Puka Puka, one of my favourite TV drinks.

Old Fashioned @ Bar 44
Bar 44 @ Grosvenor House
Tower One, 44th Floor, Al Sufouh Road

Exclusive cocktail bar on top of Grosvenor House Hotel with a stunning view - and great cocktails! Savvy and attentive bartender who made the rather expensive drinks worth every AED.

Treacle @ Plantation Lounge
Plantation Lounge @ Sofitel Jumeirah Beach
3rd Floor, Jumeirah Walk, JBR

A rather standard hotel bar, despite being described as "colonial-style" - dark and cosy with soft elevator music. The cocktails were not bad, but the Treacle I ordered contained way too much apple juice. It could be worse, I guess...

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