1. Asia de Cuba
A bit Asian, a bit Cuban, because that’s a fusion the world was always missing, Asia de Cuba is as much a nightspot as it is a restaurant. Known for its outdoor terrace and island bar with Latin beats, salsa classes and friendly clientele, this stylish spot on the Corniche also has a restaurant bar inside that’s very much worth checking out. Sit here and watch as the mixologists craft your mixed drinks, or recline in one of the very accommodating armchairs. Bliss.
Open daily noon-2am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, Al Khubeirah (02 699 3333).
2. BOA Steakhouse
A popular haunt for post-work drinks that offers some great steak and grape deals, this cool bar also serves creative mixed drinks and the terrace overlooks the Eastern Mangroves.
Open daily 12.30pm-1am. Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street (02 641 1500).
With a big terrace and amazing pan-Latin food, sometimes this restaurant bar can get overlooked. That’s a mistake, because it’s an intimate space with flattering lighting and a chilled-out vibe. A great place to end the evening on a high note.
Daily Sat-Thu 5pm-3am. Fri 12.30pm-3am. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 666 8066).
4. Catch Roof
A very different vibe to the low-key sophistication of the seafood restaurant below, Catch Roof can get rowdy when there’s a young crowd in the house, often drawn in by the urban DJs. It has great views across the Gulf, however, as well as some good drinks deals – such as unlimited beverages for ladies on a Tuesday night – which is lucky as it can be pretty pricey.
Open daily noon-3am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, Al Khubeirah (02 611 0909).
With sister outlets in New York and Las Vegas, this playful Italian restaurant continues the theme to the bar, with elephants and a circus theme injecting a much-needed spot of whimsy to the Abu Dhabi scene.
Open Sun-Thu noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm, Fri noon-6pm, 7pm-11.30pm, Sat noon-11.30pm. InterContinental
Abu Dhabi, Al Khubeirah (02 666 6888).
6. Dragon’s Tooth
This small, moodily lit room is hidden down a corridor from the dining room of Dai Pai Dong. It was recently converted from a need-to-be-in-the-know hidden extra to a jewel in the restaurant’s crown that they want everyone to come and look at. Their skilled mixologist works away while you enjoy Abu Dhabi’s now worst-kept secret.
Open daily 4pm-1am. Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 813 5550).
Not often thought of as a place for a drink, Hakkasan’s bar pulsates a neon blue light. It’s juxtaposed with the ornate wooden screens inspired by the Orient, and as you’d expect, the bar staff here are well-versed in making a drink. Even the music has been created specifically, with traditional Cantonese sounds merged with contemporary beats.
Open noon-4pm, 6pm-2am. Emirates Palace, Ras Al Akhdar (02 621 0708).
8. KOI Abu Dhabi
This LA-import has a top bar, with cosy seating and low lighting making it a very intimate affair. The mixed drinks are unusual and the music is house. It doesn’t seem to be as busy as it once was, but that does mean it’s easy to get a table.
Open Sat-Wed 6.30pm-1am, Thu 6.30pm-2am, Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 6.30pm-2am. The Collection, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Isalnd (02 678 3334).
Highly commended at our Music and Nightlife Awards in May, anyone who’s been to Tamba will tell you that it’s more than just a place to eat amazing Indian food. The central bar is a focal point for the whole venue and it’s surrounded by decadent copper (or “tamba” in Hindi) and teal hues. The staff really know their stuff here, with a variety of mixed drinks on offer that take inspiration from the herbs and spices used in Indian cooking. There is also a terrace that is great for sundowners.
Open Sun-Thu noon-1am; Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Hub at The Mall, The World Trade Center, Al Markaziyah (02 672 8888).
Winner of Best Restaurant Bar at our Music and Nightlife Awards in May, the staff here are very professional and are armed with plenty of suggestions for their varying hops, grape and mixed beverage menus. It’s a sophisticated yet laidback night out and this is the place to be seen in the city.
Open Sat-Wed noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight; Thu noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am; Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-1am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).