“I love coming to the UAE, it’s a melting pot of cultures and people are always looking to experience new culinary delights.” Chef Shigeki Iimura
Barfly by Buddha Bar located at the Venetian Village in Abu Dhabi celebrated its first anniversary last week with three-days of entertainment showcasing its very best culinary and mixology creations. I was invited to the first event which comprised of two masterclasses, the first was a cocktail and mocktail making interactive session with mixology aficionado and Buddha-Bar Worldwide Executive Bar Chef, Matthias Giroud. The second session was with the very charismatic and entertaining Chef Shigeki Iimura, Buddha Bar’s Worldwide Group’s Japanese Corporate Chef, who taught us how to make sushi.
After sampling some of the delicious cocktails made by the talented bartenders we joined Giroud (whom I previously saw in action at last year’s Barfly Cocktail festival) in the bar to make two of his signature drinks. Monsieur Giroud is flamboyant and theatrical, his mixology is a performance and his personal style memorable (read more about that here). His unique drinks all have signature elements and are presented in different shaped vessels, adorned with arts and crafts and there’s always an element of fire.
We started by making a Soft Thai Fashioned, a non-alcoholic mocktail from the Smoke in the Woods family of drinks. Fresh apple juice was combined with freshly squeezed lime juice, torn kaffir lime leaves (the aroma of the ripped leaves reminded me of Thailand), Giroud’s own ginger essential honey and plenty of ice before blending them together in synchronised cocktail shaking. More ice was added to a tumbler then topped with our concoction, we decorated the glass with a smouldering, fragrant cinnamon stick (which we burnt with a blowtorch), a kaffir lime leaf and a tiny pearl (mine fell in of course). The mocktail was tangy and aromatic, a perfect drink for designated drivers, we were given all the ingredients to take away to re-create the drink at home.
Next up was the Charles Vintage 2015 cocktail from the Liquid in the Street section of the bar menu. Another innovative drink that combined Japanese sake, French wine syrup reduction, French black raspberry liqueur and cranberry juice. Once it was all shook together we poured into individual miniature vintage wine bottles, added an oversized ice cube to our wine glass adding the deep red beverage and decorated the glass with red grapes on a stick. We briefly got to sample our efforts, the cocktail was rich in flavour with a distinctive after bite from the sake.
There was no time to sit back and sip our drinks as we moved onto the restaurant for the sushi masterclass with Chef Shigeki and his sous chef. Following his presentation we were each tasked to reinterpret his perfectly shaped prawn and salmon rolls, easier said than done I can assure you. With some assistance mine finally resembled something vaguely like edible sushi. Chef Shigeki was entertaining and skilful especially when wielding a incredibly sharp knife and then a blow torch. A fun class and even though as a non-fish eater I passed my finished sushi onto someone else to eat I thoroughly enjoyed the making process.
Barfly by Buddha Bar is a glamorous and edgy two-storey establishment, a welcome addition to the capital’s dining and nightlife scene when it opened here last year. The plush interior decor is described as neo-baroque meets industrial, a dark and sultry palette of black, red and gold adorned with large theatrical artwork and sculpture where the concept’s Parisian roots meets the Middle East. The additional large outside waterfront terrace area is ideal for alfresco dining, drinks and smoking shisha.
The cuisine is a fine balance between Asian influenced dishes and Western favourites, the creative chefs offering flavoursome well presented dishes with a certain wow factor. The creativity also extends to the bar menu which features fifteen signature cocktails grouped into five different families of three drinks, two alcoholic and one non-alcoholic in each family. With regular guest DJ’s alongside resident DJ Angelo, innovative cocktails and the menu of new wave Pacific Rim cuisine, Barfly by Buddha Bar is worth a visit if you haven’t been already. Happy 1st Anniversary Barfly Abu Dhabi, you celebrated in style.
Barfly by Buddha Bar
Location: Venetian Village at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal
Opening hours: 6:00pm till late
Telephone: 02 404 1951
Opening Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 6pm – 2am | Thursday 6pm – 3am | Friday 4pm – 3am | Saturday 4pm – 1am
Sushi Social – An evening of flavour-packed sensation of delicious sushi, sashimi, maki rolls and so much more with free-flow of house beverages. Every Sunday | 8pm – midnight | AED 165* per person. DJ Angelo will keep you entertained from 10pm
Soleil Vista – Enjoy delicious tapas platters and bottomless house-beverages Saturday – Tuesday | 6pm – 8pm | AED 99* including free-flowing house beverages
Aphrodite Ladies Night – Ladies enjoy free-flowing house beverages and 50% food discount | Every Wednesday from 6pm – 1am
*Prices are subject to 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee and 4% municipality fee.
I was invited to Barfly by Buddha Bar’s first anniversary celebrations. All views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2017