Botanical cocktails and floral-inspired food – welcome to a secret garden…

You don’t expect much in the way of greenery when venturing to DIFC, which makes Flair No.5 even more of a pleasant surprise. The new bar and lounge at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC describes itself as inspired by a botanical garden.

While it’s no Royal Botanic Gardens, it’s certainly a lovely space that’s ideal for an after-work tipple. Oversized potted plants line the large open-air bar that’s split into separate, slightly elevated lounging alcoves. Macrame plant hangers dangle over the main bar area, and a DJ keeps the house beats to a suitable, conversational level.

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The drinks menu heavily slants towards gin-based cocktails all decoratively adorned with herb shoots and other flora. The Gin Mare (Dhs65), for example, with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and infused with olives, is served with a sprig of rosemary pegged to the side of the glass.

Similarly, bourbon-based Eden’s Door (Dhs70) is served in a metal goblet wrapped in a banana leaf. Both are almost too pretty to drink.

Food follows a similar floral theme: the charred rosemary flatbread (Dhs55) comes with slivers of Cecina de Leon, salted and sun-smoked beef, shavings of Reblochon cheese and a handful of rocket.

The delightful crispy potato sticks wrapped in citrus bream (Dhs5) was like a miniature Japanese version of fish ‘n’ chips, festooned with edible flowers. Typically, we’re averse to the use of such things (since they do absolutely nothing to the taste of a dish), but since it works with the botanical theme, we’ll let it slide.

Ultimately, Flair No.5 is a solid addition to the bar scene, particularly as an alfresco option. And we owe it to ourselves to spend as much time unburdened by the shackles of four walls and air con before the summer starts.

The Ritz-Carlton DIFC, daily 5pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 372 2323.

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