How exactly does What’s On Abu Dhabi’s ‘Favourite Bar’ 2021 make those big impressions..?

We’re not fussy about what bars we like, but the vibe has to be right. Easy breezy ambience, cool without trying too hard to be cool. There needs to be crafty mixology, big panoramic sense of space views, and a banging playlist pitched at precisely the right volume for grooving and gossiping is always nice. Oh and Food. There has to be bar snacks — we’re not talking about full messy meals, just dainty nibbles, gastro finger food we can pick up and gesticulate with as we waffle on about pop nostalgia and ‘would you rather?’ hypotheticals.

Fortunately, as a sophisticated modern metropolis, Abu Dhabi does have a big variety of bars. Watering holes to fit all tastes and occasions. But we’re headed to Impressions this evening, at least partly because you voted it your Favourite Bar in the What’s On Awards Abu Dhabi 2021. And we’re all about repping our set.

Anantara Eastern Mangroves really feels like it sits on an ancient meridian line. Behind it, the frenetic electricity of a city that never sleeps, ahead of it, as soon as you cross the threshold into the lobby, you’re amongst nature. Time slows, there is nothing but greens and blues on the horizon.

We ride the elevator to the seventh floor, and walk into the low-lit interior. Our own first impressions of Impressions mirror yours. This is a cool place to come and be amongst ‘it’. There’s a network of neon light that feeds that ‘we’re going out-out’ energy, the circular central bar commands attention and through onto the open terrace, dusk’s last embers linger above the green mangrove trees, rendering them golden. You can keep your jumbo screens, and your house band, this is the entertainment we prefer for sundowner sips.

There’s a full menu of blended beverages and more substantial bites, but we find ourselves in the mood for a little sushi. The selection is bijou but happily varied, it’s authentic too — this is not carte garnish, this is their home. Our favourite picks were the maguro tuna nigiri (Dhs48 for four), and volcano maki rolls with teriyaki salmon (Dhs80 for eight).

Verdict: This bar stands out as something special, even amongst Abu Dhabi’s glittering line up of after hours haunts. Does it have the best views in the city? That of course depends what you’re looking for, but it’s a soul of stone that’s not at least moved a little by this privileged perch over a pigmy forest. Rating: A

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel, Sat to Wed 4pm to 2.30am, Thu and Fri 4pm to 3.30am. Tel: (056) 188 7700,

Images: Provided