Progress! Most of the wines for the Hakkasan Emirates Palace opening list are chosen, and I’m just waiting for prices from the importers. Abu Dhabi has a 50% import tax on alcohol, so the prices will probably come as a shock.
The big difference from buying wines here is that I have to order for the first 3 months. Of course we’ve got forecasts, but it’s impossible to really know what will sell best. You can probably make a good guess at what you’ll be selling come June, but I’m trying to do it for a restaurant that isn’t even open yet, in an unfamiliar market. We are so lucky here in the UK: most suppliers deliver the next day, and ordering enough for the weekend is as difficult as it gets!
The UK is also lucky to have open-minded customers who will experiment with unfamiliar wines. Everyone says that Abu Dhabi is a less sophisticated market, and not to list anything unusual. Fair point, but at Hakkasan the priority has always been wine that works well with our menu – wherever it comes from. All I need now is to find a sommelier who is up for the challenge. If you are interested, let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org