The Best Things in Life Are….Balaash (Free)

I am a fervid fan of free (free pre-concert passes to hobnob backstage with the Gipsy Kings, free VIP access to Jazz at Lincoln Center, free tickets to the 51st Grammy awards ceremony, free super bowl tickets, free tickets to opening day at Fenway Park, free season tickets to the New York Philharmonic symphony, free tickets to watch the Knicks play basketball). Just mention the word “free”, “gratis”, “gratuit”, gratuito” and I’ll be your first loyal customer. So when I was told that various bars and restaurants in Abu Dhabi City host “Ladies Nights”, where women could drink gratuitously all night long (and in some cases for a nominal fee), I informed my girlfriends that they could “count me in”.

There are a multitude of options for Ladies Night in Abu Dhabi depending on your objective for the evening, desired drink of choice, and/or mood/disposition. “The List” is quite extensive and is published weekly by Time Out Abu Dhabi (, the ultimate go to handbook for expats living in this ironically not so “dry” country.

If you’re keen on getting up to speed with an old girlfriend to chat about your latest ventures, reminiscence about your high school or college days, or to simply seek confirmation on whether you are dating the “right guy” then head to Cho Gao, a chic South-East Asian fusion restaurant housed on the lobby level of the Crowne Plaza AD in the Al Markaziya area of town.



Every Saturday and Sunday evening from 9 pm until close, “Mrs. Cho” can choose between delectable Asian nibbles like braised barbeque short ribs and sweet and sour prawn stir-fried rice paired with tantalizing drinks bearing sensuous names like “love potion” and “ red lips”, both of which will satiate you vodka lovers out there. And if by chance you find that the drinks are missing the mark on your alcohol hydrometer by a wee bit, then kindly ask the bartender for a double shot and he will pleasantly oblige. You can also request that the bartender spruce up your favorite mocktail concoction; Do note that Shirley Temples are acceptable here. With a DJ consistently spinning light electronica music until 1 am, you can not go wrong with Cho Gao for a temperate, eclectic evening of The Orient meets The Occident.

For you football (that is European football) fans looking for something a little more boisterous and raucous and for those of you who literally want to stomp the dance floor, simply head to Cooper’s, the dependable British pub housed within the Park Rotana hotel (at the edge of town) on any given Wednesday from 8 pm to midnight, where the scene is soccer zealots meets cigar connoisseurs. As I am a huge fan of European football (having played the position of “left wing” in high school) and a self-proclaimed “party girl”, this place succeeds in arresting my interest. High definition 100 inch flat screens are as ubiquitous as beers on tap and the DJ rarely disappoints, spinning tunes from the hit pairings and dynamic collaborations between Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, David Guetta and Skylar Grey, Eminem and Rihanna, and Jay-z and Kanye West. Unlimited red or white house wine in addition to selected beers on tap are part of the Ladies Night promotion.

If you are looking for something a little more subtle and sophisticated, something along the lines of a “fine and mellow” evening, then head to the breezy rooftop lounge, Impressions, housed within the Eastern Mangrove hotel on any Wednesday evening.



From 7 to 11 pm, ladies can “chew” on unlimited white or red wine. Additionally, as part of Ladies Night, Impressions serves up my preferred drink of choice- fine French bubbly that pairs exceedingly well with the Cuban cigars featured on the menu. Although, not a Ladies night selection, the red chili caipirinha (with cachaca, raspberries, blackberries, lime, and red chili flakes) is a “must-have”- a spirited and original retake on the traditional caipirinha that will please Brazilian lovers and Portuguese aficionados of Latin persuasion alike.


To end the evening on a grand note, loiter a little past 11 pm to hear “The Piano Man” from Egypt swoon you with classics from the Elton John and Lionel Richie songbooks.


Some of the other worthwhile Ladies Nights to frequent include The Jazz Bar on a Monday evening (from 7 to 11 pm) and Etoiles at Emirates Palace on a Tuesday evening (from 11 pm to 3 am), offering live entertainment and celebrity DJs.



With ample venues to choose from every single night of the week and the free flow of selected beverages here in AD, there isn’t a reason to single-handedly down a liter of your personal stash at home. Just slip on one of your sexy LBDs, park your car (The UAE has a zero tolerance for driving while intoxicated), grab one of your trusted wing women, and have a drink or two “on ‘da house”.

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