The following is one expats, slightly cock-eyed view of Abu Dhabi's bars. It is intended as a rough, indeed very rough, guide to the establishments that offer succor and comfort to the lonesome, weary expat in Abu Dhabi.
The Ally Pally - At the Al Ain Palace Hotel on the Corniche, about 3Dhs in Taxi. Girls galore. If you enjoy being stared at, chatted up, or even touched up, then this is the place for you. Not for the prudish amongst you!
If you are not in for the girls then a very amusing evening can be had watching the expressions on the faces of the unsuspecting middle aged tourists, who have just booked in and popped down for a quiet aperitif before dinner. They don't stay long.
The Captains Arms - At the Meridien. Go down right hand side of hotel in to the area behind hotel. Walking distance from Dana. Very popular with the Expat fraternity, however there are not too many spare girls. A nice evening can be had sat outside when the humidity levels drop into double figures!
Friday breakfast is disappointing and not recommended.
The Waka Taua - Not sure if that's how it's spelled, but you get the gist. Have recently been informed by a New Zealand English Teacher that it's pronounced "Wacker Tow ooh argh" and is Polynesian in origin. Do not get it confused with the Zakher Tower - a completely different kettle of fish. For a start it's 'tower' as in 'hour' and not 'Tow ooh argh' as in Wellington.
Anyway, it's just past the Captains Arms at the Meridien. Nice place, no girls though. Can be very pleasant sitting outside on the patio overlooking the sea and having a Rummy cocktail. (Ahoy me hearties, it is wise to watch out when consuming your 4th 'Navy Grog' they tend to catch up on you sharpish like)
Boringly, you could take your Wife and/or Girlfriend along for the evening and not embarrass them or yourselves.
The Tavern - At the Sheraton Hotel on Corniche. About 3 Dhs in Taxi. Lots of Expats. Very few spare girls. Doesn't seem to have the atmosphere that the old Tavern had. Once again it's somewhere you could take the Wife- whoever's she happens to be.
Illusions - 4th floor of Le Royal Meridien. Disco with lots of girls, I think mostly East European. I seem to recollect visiting it once slightly the worse for wear with my Jock mate Ian, and being charged Dhs 50 to get in. However, we did get a free drink or two for that. Nowt else is free!!
Doesn't warm up until 11'ish.
Heroes - Downstairs in Crowne Plaza Hotel on Hamdan St. About 3Dhs in Taxi. Popular with expats and you do get some girls in later. Good place to watch live soccer and rugby. Loads of telly's and all the Supersports channels. (How did we manage in Abu Dhabi before Supersports?) Bar meals are good.
PJ O'Reilly's - Go down alley at left side of Al Ain Palace Hotel. Typical pub, not too popular nowadays and not too many girls either. Excellent Friday breakfast, pricey at about Dhs 50 but all you can eat (black pud, fat pork sausage etc) and a free pint.
The Cellar - In Howard Johnson Hotel across the road from Le Royal Meridien (behind Al Ain Palace Hotel). Live band, which is too noisy for my liking, in what is quite a small bar. Anyway, basically it's your typical pub. I think some girls get in.
Just to confuse the casual caller, the Cellar bar is up some steps from the street.
The Red Lion - On 2nd floor in International Hotel on Hamdan St. 3dhs
taxi ride. Many, many years ago when the Hotel was called the Nihal it used to be the in-place for expats to gather. Nowadays it is not so popular. Girls available.
Rockwells - Behind Zaker Hotel (opposite 10 pin bowling). Not many girls. British band very good. 3Dhs in Taxi
Rock Bottoms - In the Capitol Hotel on Mina Road. Good steaks to be had. Not many girls, but dancing if you take your own with you. Good 7 piece Phillipino band. 3Dhs in Taxi.
Harvesters - Downstairs in the Sands Hotel. Not as popular as it was some years back. A few girls. Typical pub, dark like 'Brains'. 3Dhs in taxi.
Mogadishu Junction - Possibly in Zaker Hotel (opposite 10 pin bowling). Never been in there myself. Sounds exciting if you are that way inclined. Not sure if many British expats get in, my mate said he got a lot of black looks when he went in.
Mood Indigo - 1st floor in Novotel Hotel. Unfortunately the beer prices have recently soared to 16dhs a pint presumably to cover the cost of the complete renovation the bar has undergone. Certainly a better atmosphere for drinking in now, however - No girls.
Blitz - Night Club come Disco. Round side of Novotel and up the stairs. Stacks of girls.
I would suggest leaving your hand stitched Gucci's in your portacabin and wearing wellies. Sorry to disappoint the Welsh amongst you, but it's not because there's sheep available, but because the toilets are awash with urine.
If you've continued reading this crap up to here then you are obviously the sort of Expat that will find this bar right up his street!
Not for the faint hearted!
49'ers - Top floor of the Dana Hotel (Opposite Meridien Hotel near Abu Dhabi Mall). Stacks of girls of various Nationalities, size and colour. Gets very crowded on a Thursday night. Friday & Tuesday nights are ladies nights which are better, a bit quieter. Excellent live music from the resident band.
Please keep the noise down when in there, as the Moody Int'l lads are often trying to grab a few hours shut eye just a few floors below!
The Trap - Mezzanine level in The Dana Hotel. Much as the 49'ers except music by a different group and the place is even smaller and more crowded. Not for the claustrophobic or racist among you.
The Queen Vic - I've absolutely no idea what this place is like. In fact I didn't even know it existed, so I cannot tell you how to find it.
New Years resolution - I must get out more!
The Jazz Bar - At the Hilton Hotel. About 8Dhs by taxi. My mate Dave thinks it's great, but he goes there with his Wife. My other Mate Richie sides with me on this one, it's crap.
Hemingways - At the Hilton Hotel. About 8Dhs by taxi. Nothing special and probably not worth the taxi fare. However it could be combined with a trip to the Jazz Bar, then you would be doubly pissed off.
The Cristal Bar - On the 1st floor at the Millenium Hotel. Too posh for me, and probably you lot too.
The Club - About 5Dhs in taxi out the Mina Road near the Mina (for those of you who haven't yet got their knees brown, Mina means port). Strictly members and signed in guests only. Well worth a visit for a civilized day or evening out. Food cheap, beer cheap, wine cheap, spare ladies non existent. Had to be a drawback didn't there!
The Brauhaus At the Beach Rotana Hotel. A short walk from the Meridien. Yes you've guessed it, a Teutonic themed bar, serving sourkrauts. Anyway, it's time you forgave them for bombing your Granny and went along for a stein or two. Unfortunately full most of the time with jolly holiday makers dressed in daft shirts.
Vincents - On the 9th floor at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. As Michael Caine would say, not a lot of people know this, but if you walk through the Garden Restaurant to the far corner from the lifts you will find a small bar. It has deep comfortable leather armchairs and a two piece jazz quartet playing quiet numbers. Not too sure if I would recommend it or not, but it's worth a visit just to be able to drop it in to conversation with some long serving Abu Dhabi expat who will be amazed to find out it exists.
All the taxi fares indicated are referenced to the Al Dana Hotel.
Please note that in Abu Dhabi it is now common practice for taxi drivers to ask for an 'off the clock' fare of minimum Dhs10 if they pick you up at a lot of the hotels after 23.00hrs'ish. Now, bearing in mind that you are probably three sheets to the wind, you have 2 choices. Argue the toss, growl and pay up, or tell him to shove it and walk around the corner for a cheaper taxi.
At this juncture I had better come clean and say that it's been some time since I visited all the bars and therefore may have inadvertantly slandered some of them. TOUGH!