Review: Moonshine, DIFC's new best-kept secret
The after hours have a new address at this glossy speakeasy…
But is it here to stay? That is the question echoing in my mind as I walk up to the suspiciously-placed 1950s baby blue fridge door.
If not for the smiling bouncer clad all-in-black stood next to said fridge door, no one would suspect there to be anything behind it that actually requires a bouncer. That is the beauty of Moonshine, the mystery of a blue door that could be anything but the entrance to a speakeasy, behind which lies a futuristic metallic passageway – a portal that marries the past and the present.
The allure of speakeasies and hidden bars never really fades away, because despite being known to the world, they are still well-kept whispers, holes in the wall where one can revel in the fashionable secrecy of the concept. This one, a tribute to The Prohibition era, as the name tells us – is the latest addition to a not-very-long list of discreet establishments in the city and perhaps fewer still rendered in such a theatrical fashion – vintage fridge door and all.
The speakeasy, nestled behind well-loved sandwich shop Wise Guys, is a small, compact space. The ceiling is low, the lights are dim, spraying red glow like malicious halos, and inside the walls lean in – and BAM, you have exclusivity. That is the star here, how limited-edition, inside-club everything feels. While the root of speakeasies is in the yesteryear, the interiors are uber modern – very metallic, very minimal, with aerodynamic lines everywhere that bend and unbend.
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The menu, while not elaborate, has a laundry list of fancy ingredients that starts with caviar but doesn’t finish at truffle. This is, after all, sophistication in the shadows. The soul of the spot is of course the cocktails. My companion starts with whiskey-based drinks and concludes that while the Old Fashioned is strong, the Whiskey Sour hits just the spot.
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Fruit leads the signature cocktails, as my companion points out from the kojikaze – vodka, pear, palo santo amazake and yuzu (Dhs85) – and the blue Hawaii – rum, blood orange, elderflower soda, frankincense and pineapple espuma (85 aed). She nods in approval – they’re not too sweet or simple.
The food arrives and we nibble as we chat our time away. The ostera caviar makes for a good bite, but is not particularly remarkable. The MB5 wagyu tataki is a myriad of fresh flavours – garlic, radish and botanicals. It tastes green but juicy. The Hokkaido scallops ceviche is all citrus, with passion fruit and lime and has a fruity kick that pairs perfectly with the crunchy Peruvian corn. The gambas roja carpaccio is our favourite – salty, spicy and slick with olive oil. As the night unfolds, a DJ takes to the booth and we have some music to match the vibe.
Moonshine is a worthy entrant to Dubai’s nightlife society and will likely stay that way – less for the fare and more for the enthralling rush of its novelty.
What’s On Verdict: Moonlighting at Moonshine should be your new after hours plan.
Moonshine, Gate Avenue, DIFC, Mon to Wed, 6pm to 12am, Thurs to Sat, 6pm to 3am, Tel: (0) 52 4507795, @moonshinedubai