Making Abu Dhabi his Casa
Dinos Constantinides is the driving force behind the 25th best cocktail bar in the world, Lost + Found, and he’s now helping open a new Cuban cocktail bar, Casa de Cuba, in Abu Dhabi
How did you get your start in bartending?
I started bartending for a hobby in 2001; that was the first time I ever made a drink. I started again while I was studying in London in 2005 and slowly my hobby became my passion. After I finished my studies I went back to Cyprus. My parents wanted me to get a secure job in a bank or something… I didn’t want that. I managed to transform my hobby into my job and opened the first bartending school/mobile bar service in Cyprus.
You went on to perform in competitions?
Yes. The Bacardi Legacy Middle East competition in Lebanaon with countries like Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Abu Dhabi, and Lebanon. I won that one which opened some doors. I really enjoyed the networking, creativity, and fun nights. Not so much the fun nights anymore as I’m almost 37. Now I’m more business focused.
How did Casa de Cuba come about?
I was in Athens and got a call that some guys from the UAE wanted to visit my bar in Cyrpus (Lost + Found). I went back to Cyprus and opened the bar for them, we showcased some cocktails, they got excited about our work, our menus, our place, our story in general. They said we need to do something together. We have been trying for two years and this is the opportunity that finally came in front of us.
What is Casa de Cuba?
For me Casa is a big bar, small club. It’s a mixture. Open air, seasonal, nice cocktails in a small list, but with the vibes of a club which is something that I believe works.
Why Abu Dhabi?
It was a possibility in Dubai but things turned and we’re doing Abu Dhabi. I’m going to do something crowdpleasing — this is what clubbers need. Easy flavours, tasty, appealing to the eye, Instagram friendly drinks. I don’t know the market, but I strongly believe that everywhere is a market for these kind of flavours and cocktails.