Abu Dhabi boasts a blossoming bar scene. Since the region has opened up more to businesspeople and tourists from around the world, many of its laws have relaxed and liberalised, including a loosening of the prohibition on alcohol. Whether you’re after a quiet sundowner or a sky-high beverage with an incredible city vista, there are plenty of fantastic places to drink in the city.
Sun, sand and sunsets are always guaranteed in Abu Dhabi, and what better way to enjoy the scenery than with a fine drink in hand? Try taking in the city views on the 62nd floor of Jumeirah Etihad Towers, cosying up at the Buddha-Bar Beach, or cheering on your favourite sports team at Blu Sky Bar. Whatever your poison – delicious mocktails, fruity cocktails or smooth craft beers – you won’t have a problem finding it here.
This world-renowned, Asian-inspired bar fuses gastronomy, music and mixology perfectly. Located on the beachfront by the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, this venue brings a sophistication and vibe that is totally unique to the city. Only a few minutes’ drive from the developing cultural precinct that is home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, this beachfront establishment is ideal for pre-dinner drinks or as a sundowner spot that’s bursting with refreshing mocktails and inventive cocktails. If you are looking for desert sunsets and DJs, this is the spot; the daily nightfall sessions even boast a live saxophonist. Every room is comfortable, cosy and full of atmosphere, but try sitting by the bar or out in the lounge for the best views and service.
Ray's Bar is one of the most popular drinking spots in the city | Courtesy of Ray's Bar
Perched on the 62nd floor of a classy hotel with sky-high city views, marble floors and luxe gold-tinged furniture, Ray’s Bar is the perfect spot to while away an evening. Located at the western end of the Abu Dhabi Corniche, it’s without a doubt one of the city’s most popular drinking spots. Indulge in a range of cheese flatbreads and short-rib sliders off the snack menu while sipping on signature cocktails like Ray’s Mule and Madame Negroni. For non-drinkers, the mocktail selection is also impressive – the Etihad Sparkler is right up there with the best. Be sure to enjoy the happy hour from 6pm to 8pm every day, too. Note that there’s a dress code that declines entry to anyone in UAE national dress.
If you are looking for a stylish and sophisticated spot, you cannot miss The St Regis Bar. Positioned inside the lobby of this stately five-star hotel on the Corniche strip, the venue simply oozes class and quality. Brimming with old-school character, the venue’s dark mahogany bookcases and button-back sofas hark back to New York’s Gilded Age. The bar is simple and elegant, too, framed by grand paintings that depict Middle Eastern traditions – think falconry and camel racing. Sample the signature bloody mary or visit the bar’s decadent Cigar Lounge, but note that the dress code is fairly strict. Men are asked to wear a collared shirt, long pants and closed shoes, while women are required to wear a dress, skirt or dress pants with a suitable top. The dress code also allows for UAE national dress.
The Warehouse Wine and Tapas Bar offers specials throughout the week | Courtesy of The Warehouse Wine and Tapas Bar
The urban decor and ‘warehouse’ vibe are a big part of this establishment’s appeal. Located on the ground floor of the Pearl Rotana Hotel in the Capital Centre district, The Warehouse is a rustic addition to the city’s casual dining scene. Decked out with wine barrels, copper-piping embellishments and beautiful ‘stay a while’ leather armchairs, it promotes a Mediterranean-style dining concept in which sharing is encouraged. Guests can choose from a lively selection of wines, beers, sangrias and ‘frosés’ (frozen rosés) alongside a sizable tapas menu. Check out The Warehouse’s offers during the week, including ‘Vine Hour’ served daily from 4pm to 8pm.
This bar has become something of an institution among residents and tourists alike. Thanks to its buzzing beer garden, it’s now a popular gathering point for those looking to soak up any al fresco opportunity they can get during the cooler months (November to March). Best described as ‘a little piece of Old Brussels dropped into the centre in Abu Dhabi’, the Belgian Café is famous for its pork dishes, steaming mussel pots, exclusive selection of Belgian draught beers and popular international ales. Its roster of live music, big-screen televisions and sensational city views adds to the café’s appeal.
The Eclipse Terrace Lounge is a prime spot for sunset cocktails | Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
One of the best spots to take in incredible Abu Dhabi sunsets, the Eclipse Terrace Lounge takes pride of place on the rooftop of the swanky Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island. The lounge is perfectly located between the city centre and the nearby Saadiyat Beach precinct. For real local flavour, settle into a lounger and enjoy the poolside shisha service. Cocktails are served in brass pineapple-shaped tumblers and goblets, and while the snack menu is relatively small, it is packed full of flavour. The mocktail menu is equally impressive with refreshing concoctions like Hand of Orion. The terrace is a good spot for casual drinks with views you can savour long after the drinking is done.
Trackside appeal is the name of the game at this nightspot, especially considering the location. Overlooking Yas Marina Circuit, this rooftop bar is perched on top of the architecturally stunning Yas Hotel. For the past decade, the track has become famous for hosting the final race of the Formula One Drivers Championship. Skylite guests can sip on a variety of creative cocktail mixes while watching the cars zip around the track, or settle into one of the bar areas and soak up the lounge music. This is an ideal place to mingle and party the night away. The dress code is smart casual.
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Immerse yourself in the state-of-the-art museum in the late afternoon, and reflect on the cultural experience you’ve just had by enjoying a sundowner at its open-air lounge. This is the perfect place to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Gulf, framed by Jean Nouvel’s brilliant modern-dome architecture. Soft lighting and mirrored splashbacks line this sleek, artistic bar and work well with the casual seating options to create a space that you will want to return to again and again. Enjoy tapas-style bites while sipping on a cocktail or mocktail just 15 minutes from the city centre.
At the bottom of the Rosewood Hotel’s spiralling staircase, you will descend into a candle-lit, underground wine cellar. With over 1,000 premium-label wines to sample in a warm, rustic setting that encourages you to linger, La Cava is vino heaven. The cellar has expert sommeliers on hand to guide guests on their wine selections, and offers an accompanying food, spirits and cigar menu. Sample a wine buffet for 150 dirhams (£31) per person, which includes 15 wines paired with cheese and cold cuts. The dress code is smart casual.
Relax@12 boasts the best views in the city | Courtesy of Aloft
You won’t find better 360-degree views of the city than from the 12th floor of this towering hotel. Take a seat in the comfy cluster of bright red lounges dotted around, and sample tasty Japanese fare as you sip. Thanks to its prime location next to one of the city’s most recognisable architectural wonders, the ‘Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi’ (Andaz Capital Gate), the bar offers guests uninterrupted vistas of the Arabian Gulf. It is a great choice for those looking for some breathing space from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Blu Sky Bar is the place for sports fans | Courtesy of Blu Sky Bar
Without a shadow of a doubt, Blu Sky is one of the best sports bars in the city, and a prime spot to drink and cheer on your favourite team. Boasting a lively aesthetic that features electric blue strip lighting, hi-tech TV screens and sound systems, it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours with other sports fans. Munch on a variety of snacks and grill-style meals – all sports-themed. Whether socialising with friends, tackling the weekly quiz nights or enjoying a casual family meal, you can’t go wrong here.
ANNEX at Abu Dhabi Edition is a popular new addition to the local scene | Courtesy of ANNEX at Abu Dhabi Edition
This three-storey bar has become one of the city’s most unique entertainment complexes. Split into three spaces, the venue’s sleek interior oozes sophistication. Guests can sit back and relax on the rooftop garden bar and enjoy the dramatic views out over the Al Bateen Marina. The space is truly diverse, with different vibes to suit your mood; if sitting back with a glass of wine doesn’t strike your fancy, check out the pool tables and mocktail menu. For a livelier evening, head to the hotel’s bustling dance floor. The drinks list is as refined as the hotel itself and complemented by a Peruvian-inspired food selection. Just a few minutes from the city centre, this is one of the most popular new additions to the capital’s bar scene.