Talking all things about the drinking culture in Dubai 

Yaro discusses his bartending career in Dubai, the local drink and cocktail culture and more.

Who are you? Tell us about your career? What brought you to Dubai?
My name is Yaro, I’m a bar supervisor in Iris Dubai. I’ve been working in bar industry for past 11 years catching all fields from up to down. Having an engineering degree, I would definitely confess that I didn’t choose my craft - it chose me... and I stuck with things which really make my life full of sense.

Around 5 years ago when Middle East was attractive and seducing place with promising future I got an invitation for interview from British labelled cocktail bar located in Dubai. And here we go regrets!

How would you describe cocktail culture in Dubai? Are there any specifics to Dubai drinking culture? We saw for example use of resin...
Resin?... even milk of unicorn if you want! We are in Dubai.

All bartenders in a community bring concepts, ingredients and ideas from their home countries combining them with some local products, and that’s making Dubai distinctive from all other cities in the world.

As we all know this super city is home to some of the wealthiest people and they expect to observe exceptional, fabulous things around them.

Pretty much everything has been done in terms of trends in cocktails. It’s really hard to be a game changer and compete in one of the biggest F&B markets in the world.

Particularly my bar is existing for over 6 years and we are still on the edge of success.

The most significant point is hospitality, personally for me and our outlet. Even if you serve the best cocktail with arrogant grimace who will approach you?’s all about people and treatment.

What kind of cocktails would people have?
They can have literally whatever they want because we are having them from all corners of the world.

“Classics never die” I would say. The perfect balance and simplicity can make your day special.

What kind of local ingredient could you use?
The location of UAE is very convenient, Asia is on hand, Middle East, so it has diversity in terms of spices, botanicals, fruits and vegetables. Don’t allow yourself to believe that Dubai has nothing because it’s a sand pit ... just stretch out your hand and get it.

I used fresh cardamom leaves in one of my competitions and I got them working two days while I couldn’t find them anywhere back to my home country.

As local ingredients we can name:
- Sumac
- Tarragon (estragon) sunflower family
- Different types of dates
- Baharat (a sharp spice made up of black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cloves )
- Cardamom
- Camel milk
...and many others

What bars would you recommend?
I prefer more causal bars (Irish pubs, quiet cocktail bars) where you can spend your time having a lovely conversation about anything with your friends, lose yourself from fancy suits surrounding.

Come to Iris and I’ll guide you personally with my interpretation of Dubai’s bar picture.

Do you know a bar actually growing ingredients? In Dubai?
I really love the concept. I believe it’s a new page for our industry which can be applied for any bar just with a small effort. So far, we are growing only love to our guests but definitely we have to start with some fresh ingredients.