Traveling is one of the most popular activities all year round. Although most people choose to do it during the holidays, many are still quite active in crossing continents alone or with loved ones during off-peak seasons.
People love to go on trips for various reasons. Some like to explore their capacity to thrive somewhere unfamiliar, while others do it to relax and have fun.
Whatever your reason for traveling to Abu Dhabi, one thing is sure: You’re in for a wonderful time.
After all, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital is not only famous for unforgettable family holidays but also for the unique gastronomic experiences and nightlife it can offer.
This article will serve as your guide to getting a relaxing drink while in Abu Dhabi.
Drinking alcohol in Abu Dhabi: Okay or Not Okay?
Before discussing the best types of drinks in the UAE capital, let’s first discuss the existing rules in the country.
You see, despite the Emirates still following Islamic customs and traditions, the government has somewhat relaxed laws covering alcohol drinking. Apart from Sharjah, the rest of the country saw policy reforms and amendments covering this particular topic.
In 2022, many laws were updated, including those concerning alcohol drinking. Now, expats no longer need to get a licence to drink in hotels or buy fine wine online in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah.
However, they still need to keep it private or within the borders of licensed establishments, as public intoxication remains illegal in the UAE (as with many other countries). This means you need to give yourself a bit of a buffer when going out for a few shots and sober up before you leave the bar, restaurant, or hotel.
Visitors still need to be at least 21 years old to consume alcohol legally in the country. The rules also only apply to non-Muslim visitors.
5 Must-Try Cocktails and Mixes in Abu Dhabi
Now that you know how to enjoy drinks within legal boundaries in Abu Dhabi, it’s time to explore the best thirst-quenching options you have when visiting the city, starting with the following:
- Madame Negroni
This variant of the Italian cocktail can be enjoyed at Ray’s Bar at Etihad Towers in Jumeirah, along with a gorgeous bird’s-eye view of the Emirati skyline.
Of course, you can also recreate Madame Negroni at home. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Clove-infused gin
- Lillet Blanc Vermouth
- Plum bitters
- Purple Mount
Available at the Barfly by Buddha Bar in the Ritz, this night drink can also be made at home. You’ll need blackberry or wild cherry brandy (or a combination of both), vodka (damiana-infused, if you want to stick to the Barfly recipe), blackberry puree, and beetroot-rose foam.
To serve, combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake it like you mean it. Strain and pour over a cocktail glass, and voila! Instant Purple Mount.
- La Racasse
Next is La Racasse, a house blend that combines Laurent Perrier Champagne, honey, orange bitters, lemon sorbet, and Courvoisier cognac.
This is available at Skylite Rooftop Bar, a popular hangout in Yas Marina District with a balcony overlooking the Formula One racetrack.
Although you can mix it on your own at your hotel, it is best enjoyed at the bar, especially during the F1 season. Just remember to book in advance if you’re visiting during this period as it can get very crowded here.
- Espresso Martini
Espresso martini is a classic pick-me-up, perfect for a post-dinner drink in Abu Dhabi. This mixology potion offers a magical jolt that can keep you awake and enjoy extended nights out and is usually available in any bar you visit.
To make one at home, you’ll need:
- 60 millilitres of vodka
- 15 millilitres of coffee liqueur
- 30 millilitres of freshly brewed espresso (alternative: cold brew concentrate)
- 15 millilitres simple syrup
- Garnish with coffee beans (optional)
Start by adding the vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and ice into a shaker. Mix well until well chilled. Then, strain the liquid into a cocktail glass and top it with three coffee beans to garnish. Serve chilled.
- Gold Sour
The Gold Sour is an indulgent take on the classic whisky sour. But unlike the traditional cocktail, this particular version served at The Jazz and Fizz Bar uses Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve mixed with lemon juice, honey, and flakes of gold (yes, the real deal).
If you want to try making it, follow these steps:
- Measure the ingredients according to your desired serving.
- Combine everything well in a shaker with ice. Give it a good, hard shake.
- Strain using a sieve and pour over some ice.
- Garnish with gold flakes.
4 Most Popular Non-Alcoholic Beverages in the UAE
If you want to quench your thirst but don’t wish to consume any alcohol when out and about in Abu Dhabi, you can also choose among the following popular local drinks:
- Gahwa (Arabic Coffee)
Gahwa is a well-known welcome drink in the UAE. It is typically served by locals for guests who visit their homes and is the perfect beverage for those seeking traditional Emirati drinks.
When making gahwa, Emiratis use a special coffee pot called “dallah.” After pouring it into small cups, they serve the drink with some dates.
If you don’t know anyone in the UAE, you can still sample this traditional drink in most Arabic restaurants and cafes.
- Sulaimani tea
Not a coffee person? Don’t worry; the Emiratis also have wonderful tea blends that will surely satisfy your palate.
One such drink is Sulaimani tea. Brewed until golden brown, this sweet tea is made from loose tea, lemon, cardamom, and mint leaves. It has a sweet and tangy taste and is a great refreshment after a heavy meal.
- Karak Chai
Besides Sulaimani tea, Abu Dhabi restaurants and cafes also serve a subcontinental drink known as “karak chai.”
This Indian beverage made from loose tea and milk is a favorite among locals and ex-pats. Its best versions are prepared in places that follow traditional Emirati settings and served in silver pots with dates or sandwiches.
Want something to cool you off on your trip to Abu Dhabi? Try a glass of jallab.
Made from a syrup of grape molasses, dates, and rose water, this cold, refreshing drink is a popular choice for locals. It is particularly in demand during Ramadan as it helps keep the locals hydrated while fasting during the day.
To make jallab, Emiratis dilute syrup with water. Then, they garnish the liquid with crushed ice, pine nuts, and golden raisins.
Quench Your Thirst
Your trip to Abu Dhabi won’t be complete without an exploration of the local favourites. Besides native dishes, make sure you try these famous cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages when you visit the UAE capital to help quench your thirst for new flavours.
Erika Miranda holds a degree in Mass Communication/Media Studies from the University of Pangasinan in the northern Philippines. She’s been writing content for various websites for over 12 years. That includes viral blogs, news aggregates, e-commerce websites, and more, specializing in the medical, health, and food and beverage niches.