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Deals Pub 14: Cocktails Galore in Mohandiseen
When it comes to secret recipes that involve alcohol, it’s best to tread lightly, or be forewarned.
Deals Pub 14 in Mohandiseen, the fifth satellite of the Deals Pub chain, offers a healthy range of imported spirits and classic cocktails served strong. But as happy-go-lucky types at Cairo 360, we were taken by the allure of its off-menu specials.
Really, who could resist drinks with monikers like Flaming Angry Dragon, Black Death, Avatar, and Golden Man? Certainly not us; we sampled them all. Golden Man?!?
Of the four the Flaming Angry Dragon holds nothing back. Gussied up in a martini glass and lit aglow, the drink is a standard showstopper mixing in shots of Kahlua, Sambuca, tequila and rum. Traditionally, Sambuca is burnt before sipping to intoxicate both the gustatory and olfactory senses. Wafts of the Italian, anisette liquor remove the medicinal bite to the drink and drown us in a liquorice bath. One or two of these fiery drinks and the show’s over, dead and done.
The three remaining contenders are served tall, dark and handsome in various shades, but like a blind date, their ingredients remain a mystery.
Tinted purple and the strongest of the round, the Black Death would be better called the 'Purple Plague'. Our guess is grape. But scouring the net, we found different recipes that included black Sambuca or Butterscotch Schnapps amid a splash of assorted alcohols like vodka and Blue Curacao. Go figure. All we do know is that the drink was too clinical for our taste buds, but if you’re into grapes or cough syrup, it’s nothing short of ambrosial.
The Avatar, likely dubbed after James Cameron’s film, is a giant appletini, green as Emerald City and light as apple juice. But don’t be deceived. Take a sip of the green elixir and let it marinate in your mouth for a second, and you’ll surely feel the vodka whirling.
Idols, trophies or warm fetishes come to mind with the name of our final tasting, and it’s good as gold. The Golden Man is our top pick of Deals’ secret stash. Pineapple cuts through the light, refreshing drink that could be best described as a liquid version of a white gummy bear.
Sampling Deals’ specials dropped us head first into a rabbit hole, wounding us sunken deep into the next day and our pockets shallow. Before opting for off-menu specials, be sure to inquire about prices; there’s a reason why they’re not listed. The four drinks came to a total of 355LE before 10% and 12% additional charges, with Angry Dragon topping at 120LE alone and the Golden Man, the most affordable special at 70LE.
To absorb the splurge, we went with an order of Cheesed Off (35LE), a hearty cheeseburger with a side of fries and coleslaw - well worth the bill.
Distinct from its sister branches, Deals Pub 14 takes up the entire top floor of the Swiss Inn Hotel and features billiards, dart boards and décor fit for a classy gentleman’s club. The low ceilings, recessed lighting, high wooden stools, comfy couches, plush carpeting, mahogany panels, chandeliers and sconces call for suspenders, cigars and a cigarette girl to match.
Fatten up but don't drink yourself flat.
Jewel of the Zamalek crown, the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino never ceases to dazzle, offering rich oriental vibes with a refined twist, especially this year with the hotel’s fancy Ramadan kheima, Som3a Basha.
A play on Khedive Ismail Pasha, who built the castle for a French Empress, the theme of the kheima is that of a castle setting with all its luxury coupled with the authentic feel of Egyptian street food served from carts and vendors.
As we walked past the Marriott Promenade Garden leading to the tent, we were struck by a surprisingly beautiful cool weather in dry July – a promising start to the night.
As we stepped inside, we were immediately taken by the elegant ambiance, stylish lanterns, beautiful castle inspired décor and smiling waiters.
We picked a table with a good view of the stage, and waited patiently for the Sohour buffet to begin (10.30PM). As we waited, we were offered the drinks Karkade (Hibiscus) and Tamr Hindy (Dates). The Karkade was bold in flavour, and tartness, and despite being slightly warm, it was refreshing. The Tamr Hindy was easy on the sugar and had a pleasing hint of bitterness that complimented it.
The live Takht show began soon after and we were transported – there was just something about the atmosphere, the spirit, the music and the night that made us forget how hungry we were.
When we did remember how hungry we were, and the buffet opened, we headed on over to check it out. All the food, except for the salads and desserts, was served in authentic street-carts with a kitschy, yet classic Egyptian feel to them.
We took a stroll down the aisle where the carts were, and had a good look at everything before we decided what to dive into. The buffet ranged from falafel and eggs, to grilled kofta and chicken. The salad selection consisted of assorted vegetables, dressings and yoghurt and though the selection provided no surprises, the food was quite flavoursome and we went back for seconds – of course.
No Ramadan sohour would be complete without shisha and we opted for Grape and Peach (30LE each). In terms of quality, both were bold and distinct, though the grape was a bit too harsh for our taste. In terms of coal maintenance, however, you’ll need to be patient – on the busier nights, the shisha attendants, are somewhat overwhelmed.
Then, as we started to feel a bit peckish, we went back for dessert and were met with a large selection of fruits and sweet Ramadan delights, our favourite of which was the Zalabya cart. You might have to time your dessert excursions, though, with the desserts quickly getting cold in the breezy weather.
Overall, the aura and the entertainment at Som3a Basha were delightful and, although not faultless, the Marriott has made good use of its space.