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A striking green and warm copper colour scheme welcomes guests to this bar at The Dubai Edition Hotel in Downtown, which celebrates the classic gin and tonic. A dedicated menu of international gins has been expertly curated by award-winning mixologist Simone Caporale, who’s earned a reputation for mixing ground-breaking cocktails at some of the world’s hottest bars. With a live DJ and a menu full of Mediterranean-inspired sharing plates, Agora is warm and friendly – no wonder it takes its name from the ancient Greek word for ‘assembly place’.
In the fiercely competitive restaurant district of DIFC in Dubai, Addmind is the acclaimed hospitality team responsible for heavyweight venues such as Clap, Raspoutine, Sucre and Babylon. The latest addition to their portfolio is Alma Bar inside Sucre, a seductive concept that’s made its way over from Soho in London. Part British, part Middle Eastern, Alma mixes elaborate cocktails in a luxurious setting decked with curtains, red velvet furniture, black marble bar tables and Persian rugs hanging from the ceiling. It seems DIFC’s suited and booted bankers just got a hot new hangout.
As the weather cools, the tree-lined rooftop gardens at The St. Regis Dubai, The Palm are turning into the city’s new eating and drinking hub. Nestled among talked-about restaurants Chez Wam, Tresind Studio and Signor Sassi is Aretha, a stylish bar inspired by the speakeasies of the 1920s. As well as impressive chandeliers and inventive drinks served in gorgeous glassware, Aretha will also host live music paying homage to the golden age of jazz. Created by the RIKAS Group, the team behind Tagamago, Eugene Eugene, La Cantine Du Faubourg and Twiggy, you can bet that Aretha is going to be sensational.
Ling Ling Ultra Lounge
A wildly eclectic cocktail menu greets drinkers at Ling Ling Ultra Lounge, a two-storey bar at Atlantis The Royal that makes a strong case for the best view in Dubai. Grab a spot on the terrace inside the modern Pan-Asian restaurant Ling Ling and you’ll be rewarded with the Dubai skyline and the fronds of The Palm stretching out in front of you. Located on the 23rd floor of the world’s most gossiped-about hotel, Ling Ling Ultra Lounge is the work of Paris design duo Gilles & Boissier and has the feel of a private members’ club with only ten marble-topped tables, comforting oak panelling and plush pink sofas. Handcrafted cocktails are inspired by a journey through Asia and include the Thailand-themed Chaweng with lime and sriracha chill sauce and the Kozhikode that’s flavoured with Indian chai spices and pomegranate.
Savant Bar & Lounge
Any bar that serves a cocktail using kale ceviche will naturally catch our attention. Savant is the new star bar inside Dubai’s latest boutique-feel hotel SO Uptown, and one that’s elevating the Dubai mixology scene with imagination and flair. Beverage manager Ricky Lewis from South Africa has attempted to create a speakeasy environment at Savant with an artful menu of five knockout cocktails that are playful and interactive. Take The Cartographer for example, which comes with a map of the Middle East region inside an envelope that’s pegged to the rim of the glass. Another, The Artist, arrives in a glass that’s been painted by the bartender, while One in a Million has a million dollar note on the side. The drinks will lure you in, but the experience will make you stay.
The Potting Shed
After walking into The Guild you may feel inclined to take out your secateurs and give the place a quick trim. But as you move through the foliage-based décor in this hot new DIFC restaurant, you’ll arrive at The Potting Shed, a cosy corner bar that silences the stress of Dubai with its tropical prints, cane furniture, brick floors, red velvet sofas and plump cushions. Set in a sunken lounge, The Potting Shed has also been designed by the same architect behind Chiltern Firehouse, Great Northern Hotel and The Standard Hotel – David Archer.
Jason Atherton has taken over Grosvenor House in Dubai. First came his new fine dining restaurant City Social House in September, that fuses European and Japanese flavours, and now comes 7 Tales, an inviting speakeasy inspired by 1960s Tokyo. Graffiti from Gary Yong lines the walls and ceiling of the bar on the 44th floor, while behind the bar, Atherton’s team has compiled a list of Japanese gin, whiskey and sake, some of which goes into the seven signature Negronis that are the trademark of the site.
The Brooklyn coffee shop vibe of Zabeel House in The Greens – one of Dubai’s coolest indie neighbourhoods – is a popular antidote to the glitz and glamour found in many of Dubai’s hotels. Maintaining that relaxed hipster aesthetic is 42 Midtown, a new bar inspired by those fantastically versatile New York brasseries that slide from day to night with effortless style. Stroll into 42 Midtown and you’ll spot Art Deco touches, a wood-fired oven, an inviting terrace, giant pot plants, cosy booths and a bar topped with a beautiful slab of marble. Here you’ll find head bartender Edward Lance, who’s been busy concocting a cocktail list of forgotten drinks from decades past, all of which honour the magic of New York.
Straight from Beirut comes Soul Kitchen, a bar that blends Levantine and Latin American flavours in its food and drinks. Found at the unassuming Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront in Business Bay, Soul Kitchen has created an artistic community among its Dubai patrons, while playing great music and generating the sort of buzz that should propel it into the top tier of Dubai’s most-visited bars. Taking charge of the drinks is experienced mixologist Jaco Raath, whose colourful creations – such as the Rum-Mango Ice Tea infused with cardamom and clarified mate, the sumac flavoured Peachy Margarita, and the Turkish Manhattan with coffee notes – pair perfectly with the pinks, golds and greens of Soul Kitchen’s bold interior design.