It may sound like the kind of place Homer Simpson would frequent, but I promise you…it’s anything but. Situated inside the New President Hotel on a rather inconspicuous street in the heart of Zamalek is Bar D’O, a bustling and au courant lounge bar where the glitterati of Cairo come to play after inhaling plates of mezze at some of the island’s other hip locales (e.g. Sequoia).
The place is small, it can’t be bigger than 40 square meteres, yet stepping inside you feel as if you’ve been transported thousands of miles away from the bedlam and tumultuousness of Cairo. You might as well be in a trendy haunt in Williamsburg that’s full of people – young and old alike – who ache for a stiff drink, good music and a great time.
Inspired by New York’s underground clubs and two-story brownstones, Bar D’O is something different for the senses, particularly if you’re used to baladi shisha cafés and/or decadent 5***** restaurants.
With exposed brick, industrial piping, high bar stools and writing on the walls, Bar D’O is trendy without being flippant; it’s so effortlessly unassuming. There are appetizers to dig into if you arrive ravenous and want to guard your sobriety, but the real draw of the lounge are the cocktails and generous shots of booze poured into each oversized mason jar.
Yes, that’s right…I said jar.
Aside from beer and wine there are mojitos, bellinis, sangrias and long islands, the majority of which are served in either pitchers or jars. While beer comes by the bottle and wine is the standard 5 ounces, the jars are close to being 700ml in size. I didn’t indulge in anything alcoholic during my Bar D’O visit (just sparkling water with a twist of lemon for this early rising Intolerant), however I did marvel at the drinks. To be expected – I suppose – when your beverage is the size of my face.
Needless to say, the jars went down fast, and well.
The atmosphere was vibrant and seemed to reflect the need people feel these days to get out and forget themselves (and the current socio-political situation in Egypt), if only for a night. The music was fantastic and staff were friendly and efficient. Watching the guys behind the bar shake, blend and pour their concoctions reminded me slightly of Tom Cruise’s character in Cocktail; the only thing missing were choreographed performances involving airborne bottles of vodka and vermouth.
If there are any bones to pick I’d get up in arms about the cigarette smoke that clung to my clothes and hair and the price tag. Bar D’O has a 200LE minimum, which goes quite quickly if you have a couple of drinks, but takes forever to reach if you’re only throwing back Pellegrino. Our bill – for six people – came to almost 1,900LE, which isn’t exorbitant by any stretch, but is still a bit pricey by Cairo standards (especially for anyone on a budget).
Eye popping prices aside, a couple 700ml jars of booze and Top 40 beats have the capacity to make everything better. If you have extra cash to burn, need a break from Cairo and/or are desperate for a drink that won’t make you go blind (you know, of the ‘James Daniels’ or ‘Jimmy Walker‘ variety), then Bar D’O is the place to be.
New President Hotel
20 Taha Hussein Street
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt
Open daily from 19:00 – 02:00.