In an exclusive interview, Kevin Lee, W Abu Dhabi’s mixologist and bartender, tells us about his career and Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning bar scene.
What have been the highlights of your professional career?
The greatest highlight was participating, six years ago, in The World Class Cocktail Festival, Abu Dhabi, a competition that essentially shows off the best mixologists in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Competing with such a talented group of individuals really broadened my perspective and gave me insight into the endless possibilities of mixology. Another landmark in my professional journey was working alongside Michelin-star chef Pierre Gagnaire in his restaurant. Working with him deepened my knowledge of flavor combinations, enhanced my cooking technique, and allowed me to perfect my craft.
What differentiates W Abu Dhabi‘s bar from others?
Primarily, the location itself. Being nestled in the middle of the racetrack makes the property and its bar a premier attraction and adds to the modern allure which is accentuated through its fancy architecture and design. Furthermore, the bar is experience-centric which is what keeps guests coming back, with unrivaled selection of specially curated drinks and friendly service guaranteeing a truly unforgettable visit every time.
Why do you believe mixology has become so popular and what are the latest drinks and cocktail trends?
People today want their drink to be an experience in itself. Cocktail connoisseurs long for eccentric beverages that match their mood, personality and even outfits. In a photo-centric world, where taking a photo of the food and drink tops tasting it, people expect their drinks to be theatrical. Low-ABV and non-alcoholic drinks are no longer just meal accompaniments. Everything is noticed and criticized, not only the drink’s taste but also its temperature and texture. It’s practically a whole culture in itself.
How important is sustainability behind the bar?
Sustainability is more important than ever. This is due to guests’ increased environmental awareness and the fact that bars are using many more resources, including fruits, vegetables and herbs. The abundant use and availability of these resources tend to be taken for granted. Therefore, it’s paramount to exercise caution and minimize waste. This is what we do at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island; we strive to become greener and environmentally friendlier in our operations.