24 Hours in Dubai? Here’s Our Guide on Where to Drink
26 March 2017
Love it or hate it, there’s nowhere quite like Dubai – exciting, brash, seemingly changing by the second. In fact, stand still long enough and someone will surely build a speciality restaurant or kick ass vegan juice bar around you, which is convenient if a little confusing at times. However, more than anywhere else, it pays to know where you’re going, as local alcohol laws restrict the visibility and even the location of licensed premises, making it unlikely that you’ll just stumble upon the next big thing.
WORDS LINDSAY TRIVERS
With that in mind here are some suggestions where you can enjoy a great drink, great service and the atmosphere to match in order to get a taste of this incredible city.
It might seem strange to go for coffee in a mall, but then most malls don’t offer an indoor ski field. Founded by two pioneers of the ever-evolving Dubai coffee scene, Common Grounds is a Melbourne style café that’s almost supernaturally laid back, except when it comes to the dark gold on offer. True coffee lovers will adore ‘the magic’, a spin on the classic flat white, while if you’re hungry the food is hearty, healthy and appealing. If that’s not enough, you’ll also be supporting a small independent business thriving in this super competitive industry.
Level 2, Mall of The Emirates (near Vox Cinema), Al Barsha, Dubai T: +971 (0)50 497 1094 W: www.commongroundsdubai.com
Opening hours: 8am – 10pm
Set on the trunk of the iconic Palm Jumeirah with a slice of perfect golden sand right outside, Ají serves Nikkei cuisine – a heavenly blend of Japanese and Peruvian, which might well be your next foodie love affair. With an environment that’s best described as quirky, the award-winning bartenders here blur the line between a mixologist and mad scientist and they even have a sake sommelier on hand should you need them.
Adjascent Tiara Residences, Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 552 0244 W: www.aji.ae
Opening hours: Sat – Wed: 12pm – 1am Thurs – Fri: 12pm – 2am
With a bright, minimalist interior and staff that redefine great service, Cocktail-Kitchen is another independent gem, this time specialising in all things vermouth – from refreshing spritz to classic aperitifs, perhaps with a side order of Padron peppers or fig and blue cheese bruschetta thrown in for good measure. There’s even a special area where you can book a private cocktail lesson and a welcome non-smoking policy at the bar, as smoking indoors is still, unfortunately, commonplace in the Emirate.
Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), Dubai T: +971 (0)56 828 0727 W: www.cocktail-kitchen.com
Opening hours: Sun – Thurs: 5pm – 2am Fri – Sat: 1pm – 2am
Wild and the Moon
One of Dubai’s most popular, and indeed most hipster cafés, Wild and the Moon specialises in all things healthy, in particular delicious, organic cold pressed juices and an unrepentant passion for all things matcha. Added to which, there’s absolutely no chance of a body blow to your karma involved in a visit.
Unit H77, Street 8, Alserkal Avanue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 343 3392 W: www.wildandthemoon.com
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 8am – 7pm
Serving modern Canadian cuisine (it turns out there really is such a thing) Weslodge’s décor could best be described as tastefully random – stag antlers, red leather furniture, monochrome photographs of craggy pioneers and more paintings than you’d ever think were plausible for a single wall. The drinks, however, are simply out of this world – a mix of classic cocktails and intricate house creations that will blow your mind, made by some of the best and most tattooed bartenders in the city. Plus on the 68th floor, the whole experience comes with a side order of sweeping city views.
Tower B, 68th Floor, JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 560 1700 W: www.weslodge.ae
Opening hours: Sun – Sat: 6pm – 1am Sun – Thurs: 11.30am – 3pm (lunch) Sat: 12pm – 4pm (brunch)
Located on the roof of the Grosvenor House Hotel with near endless views of the Arabian Gulf, Siddharta Lounge is the perfect spot for a cold sundowner at the end of the day. Managing to be both chilled and sophisticated at the same time, you can relax on a sofa, or at the bar, or on the super-popular terraced steps spread out amongst comfy cushions as you watch the sun slink away below the marina.
Grosvenor House, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 317 6000 W: www.siddhartalounge.com
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 12.30pm – 3.30pm (lunch) Sat – Wed: 6.30pm – 12am (dinner) Thurs – Fri: 6.30pm – 12.30pm (dinner)
Maine Oyster Bar
Tucked away in an underground car park, Maine Oyster Bar takes some finding, and even if you know it’s there it can be a test of your sanity to find the door. Once inside, however, you’re treated to classic cocktails made by staff that seem genuinely (almost worryingly) pleased to be there and a bar that looks like it’s escaped from a New Orleans hotel. If you’re hungry and naturally ambitious, try Neptune’s Folly – a three-tier tower of prawns, snow crab, scallop ceviche and of course the freshest oysters.
Ground Floor, The DoubleTree by Hilton JBR, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 457 6719 W: www.themaine.ae
Opening hours: Sat – Fri: 12pm – 12am (lunch & dinner) Thurs – Fri: 12pm – 1am
With an interior that’s minimalist bordering on basic, this iconic, Japanese roaster has recently opened a branch at the Dubai Mall next to the aquarium (yes, this mall has an aquarium.) Practically bubbling with coffee obsession, in search of that perfect cup they grow their own beans, ship them, roast them and even solely export a precision espresso machine ominously called the Slayer. Both busy and friendly all day long, it smells irresistible and offers hands-down some of the best coffee in town.
The Dubai Mall, G/F, Shop 167, Downtown, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 331 1071 W: www.arabicacoffee.ae
Opening hours: Sun – Wed: 9am – 12am Thurs – Sat: 9am – 1am
A visit to Rüya is the perfect way to discover locally inspired flavours while enjoying the comforts of one of the city’s most talked about new restaurants. The Anatolian offerings highlight the best of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients. The wine list boasts ancient wine world treasures that are exclusively imported from Turkey. Flavours of rose, hibiscus, honey and spices set-off the signature cocktails. Their use of the Coravin system means they have extraordinary wines available by the glass. Inside, painted ceramic walls and colourful cushions provide a rustic juxtaposition to the polished service, and the terrace that overlooks Dubai Marina is a great place to migrate to as the nightlife picks up late in the evening.
1st Floor, Lobby Level, Grosvenor House, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina, Dubai T: +971 (0)4 3999 123 W: www.ruyadubai.com
Opening hours: Sat – Wed: 6pm – 1am Thurs – Fri: 6pm – 2am