As the chic Parisian venue concept opens its doors in the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi’s Venetian Village, we talk to the company’s Head Mixologist, Matthias Giroud, about how it’s bringing something very new to the UAE.

Barfly is the world -famous Parisian restaurant and supper club concept that opened its doors in the French capital 20 years ago. It revolutionised nightlife worldwide when it opened as the first restaurant-cum-bar that brought in a club atmosphere. Later, it opened in Los Angeles too, and the two venues quickly became well-known celebrity haunts.

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The concept is the creation of restaurateur Raymond Visan, the man behind George V Entertainment, which also owns Buddha Bar in Paris and Dubai, Karma Café and Siddharta Lounge in Dubai, and Bushido in Bahrain, to name but a few. The décor of Barfly Abu Dhabi is inspired by the original venue, but offers a modern twist to the concept, creating an interesting combination of Parisian chic and Middle Eastern ambience in a luxurious and stylish setting overlooking the tranquil waters of Abu Dhabi’s Grand Canal.

With a neo-baroque interior design concept that merges surprisingly with a raw industrial style, the two-story setting harmoniously brings together warm reds, gold and Aubergine tones and colours. As with the Buddha Bar concept, there is a very specific style and selection of music that will be played in Barfly that is slightly more upbeat and lively than the Buddha Bar’s chillout vibe.

Matthias Giroud is the company’s Chief Bar Manager, who has been with them since the opening of the original Barfly two decades ago, and now supervises the bar menus of every venue launch. For Abu Dhabi, his ambition was to create something truly unique.

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“I don’t want to take any influences from Buddha Bar, because they have Buddha Bar in Dubai, as well as Siddharta Lounge and Karma Café, and these are very strong concepts each with unique personalities, so I want to create something very different here for Barfly Abu Dhabi, a unique experience,” explains Matthias. Being in the Middle East, it was important to Matthias that Barfly includes ALL of Abu Dhabi’s residents, both local and expatriate. To do so, he has made the non-alcoholic cocktails a main feature of the menu, giving as much emphasis and attention to these concoctions as the rest of the beverages. “I don’t want to treat the non-alcoholic cocktails as secondary,” he explains. “I want to put them at the same level as everything else. I want to give the same  experience, the same attention to details, ingredients, textures and flavours.”

We were treated to a few samples of these creations, and we can tell you that it’s quite the experience. The menu is divided into five ‘families’, with three choices per family, and one of those in each family is the non-alcoholic offering. “All of the fifteen signature cocktails for the opening of Barfly Abu Dhabi are completely new for this venue,” says Matthias. “We have five families, each with different textures, which are the liquid, the smoky, the sparkling, the foamy, and the frozen.” Barfly opens its doors this month, and looks set to be Abu Dhabi’s hottest new venue. We recommend that you book in advance to avoid disappointment!


GO: Visit Barfly by Buddha Bar at the Venetian Village Abu Dhabi. Call (0)2 404 1901 for more information.