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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Bar D'O: A Little Taste of New York in Zamalek
Newly opened Bar D’O is located inside the President Hotel, underneath the cocktail haven that is Amici. The name has already become the butt of many a joke. For instance, run the name through Google and you’ll end up with a video of a New York drag queen show. Plus, some Cairene’s have event taken to pronouncing it like the word ‘bardo’ – meaning ‘also’. However, step inside and you’ll find pictures of Brigitte Bardot on a chalkboard-menu and everything begins to make sense.
The bar is inspired by the Meatpacking District in New York and is designed using a distinct warehouse style. Red brick walls, exposed piping and minimal decoration are the main aesthetic features. The menu at Bar D’O is still under development so for the time being the chalkboard is where you can browse your options.
Bar D’O offers a variety of cocktails such as sangrias, mojitos and bellinis which are all served in jugs and jars; adding a twist to their presentation. Although all cocktails are 90LE, the jars are almost 700ml. The mojito served at Bar D’O might be one of the best we’ve had in Cairo. It had the perfect combination of sweetness and mint. However, the drink could have used another shot of rum.
In keeping to the theme, they also offer the New Yorker cocktail which is a mix of whiskey, Red Bull, orange and cranberry juices. Even non-whiskey fans would devour this drink within five minutes. The New Yorker tastes sweet with a hint of sourness coming through every now and then. However, once again the alcohol was a bit lost.
The Long Tail cocktail is a concoction of tequila, cranberry juice and orange zest. Where the other cocktails lacked in alcohol this one had it in abundance. In fact, it was too strong to drink and it was only after the ice melted that we were able to work it down.
Bar D’O also has a food menu with lots of options. The shrimps with olive and lemon (70LE) make for a perfect little snack. Beware of the shrimp though as they are drenched in oil will drip everywhere if you’re not careful- especially when you’re tipsy.
We found the staff to be very pleasant and attentive; our drinks and food were served fast and the staff had sufficient knowledge of their menu – which is a rarity in Cairo. We definitely see ourselves returning to Bar D’O for afternoon drinks and snacks.
Located on Qasr El Nil Street, right next to Qasr El Nil Theatre in Downtown Cairo, VENT offers local culture enthusiasts an alternative to the better established bars and clubs in Cairo by labelling itself as both a bar and cultural space.
Taking over the venue that was once Arabesque, VENT is relatively easy to spot, with the sign of the previous bar remaining in place.
Offering a variety of culture events, from live music, film screenings, to site-specific plays, an entrance fee of 50LE is required on all nights except on Thursday when the fee gets bumped up to 150LE. Having recently celebrated a six-month anniversary, VENT is everything an ‘underground’ space should be.
The interior is characterised by lighting choice, utilising a stark contrast between the dark and intense lights during upbeat DJ performances, and more mellow and relaxing lighting during live musician performances. Contrasting the poster-decorated walls are old tile clad floors, emblematic of Downtown’s rich heritage.
A spacious bar takes up most of the facing wall once you enter, offering a range of drinks, with a Heineken going for 30LE and soft drinks for 15LE. There is also a decent-sized menu that includes a choice of mezza platters (40LE-65LE), nachos (30LE), sandwiches (30LE-50LE) and pastas (45LE).
We opted for a Club Sandwich (40LE) which was thick and juicy, stacked with fresh ingredients and served with deliciously thick-cut French fries.
Their nachos are a good on-the-go choice, though they could do with more generous dressings as we found the dish to be slightly dry as opposed to gooey and luscious.
However, VENT is not particularly about the food, but much rather about the show. A monthly schedule provides information on upcoming events and while VENT promises a range of cultural doings, music has for the most part taken over.
With live musicians such as PanSTARSS, Aya Metwalli and the Invisible Hands taking to the stage, as have quite a few local and international DJs, there have also been the more obscure of music nights such as the one featuring Maxime Denuc; a sound producer from France.
Though the music line-ups and their variety have given music buffs a reason to leave their house in search of new sounds, VENT's hosting of non-music events is somewhat lacking - a stark reality of Cairo's cultural landscape.
All in all, Vent has come as an uplifting change from the monotonous, musically bland nightlife scene in Cairo, securing a safe haven for those uninterested in pretentious attitudes, repetitive crowds and the 'thud, thud, thud' atmosphere of the city's most frequented bars.