Trudy Nixon talks to Mirabelle West, the creative force behind Anguilla’s newest hotspot, about her vision for the cocktail lounge, tapas bar and night club.
THE cool new place to dine, drink and dance the night away in Anguilla
IWAS@TheBar occupies the top floor of the IWAS building, located mid island, close to the Sandy Ground roundabout. The main lounge/bar space is climate controlled – Caribbean style – by the plentiful island breezes that stream through the traditional demerara shutters. Out back there is an open air, bistro light strewn dining terrace.
Mirabelle describes the multi-faceted venue as “a contemporary, chilled out tapas and lounge bar experience that transitions to a trendy night club after 10”.
Inspiration for the striking interior design is a mix of Wynwood Walls Miami meets rooftop bar New York, meets the tropics. Dark walls are covered in colourful graffiti and murals by local artist Adam G. The glossy, primary coloured oil drums that serve as cocktail tables were upcycled from Anguilla’s power station. In fact, almost everything, from an aesthetic standpoint, is made from recycled materials!
The Lounge’s interior and ambiance is unique in Anguilla. The clientele regularly dress to impress (there are no slippers allowed past 8pm, so visitors beware – make sure to have a pair of shoes in the car if you spend most of your time on island in flip flops).
Mirabelle initially planned to open the retail aspect of her business first – in October to correspond with the new tourism season. But closing our borders to the pandemic gave her the opportunity to push the creation and opening of a long thought about cocktail lounge and nightclub forward to August, enhancing the entertainment available for our Covid curtailed Carnival.
ETHNiK Club Cuisine
With happy crowds for the late-night lime secured, Mirabelle, who is passionate about good food and has a particular love of ‘street food’, has now turned her attention to our other appetites.
She recently launched ETHNiK Cub Cuisine in partnership with renowned Chef Sweets and his business partner & hospitality consultant Tracy Swaby– filling a gap they spotted in Anguilla’s dining scene for affordable, causal, ethnic & worldly cuisine served tapas style, with 5 star flare. They wanted ‘to give diners the freedom to explore the word’ and the street food inspired tapas menu certainly does that.
Chef Sweets’ brother Chef Kishaun and his son Chef Eric, man the day to day operations and execution of the trios’ culinary vision. In true Mirabelle style, she’s ecstatic that it’s a real family affair.
The regular menu is supplemented by enticing $12 daily specials – such as Anguilla Crayfish with Szechuan sauce on Wednesdays and Sushi at the weekend – so there is always something new to tempt diners off the beach. The specials will change regularly.
Many of the dishes are Asian in style – for example the fish and beef sliders are served in softly delicious carrot ‘bao buns’ with pickled slaw and Szechuan mayo but there are also flavours of Mexico, East India and the Caribbean in unique fusion dishes like Popcorn Chicken Taco and Jamaican Salt Fish Fritters or Coconut Crusted Shrimp with West Indian Mango Curry dipping sauce.
After happily munching my way through most of the menu I can confirm that everything was delicious, and when I checked the prices, affordable (dishes start at $6 and go up to $14) and currently without service charge added.
So, what is the best way to experience ETHNiK dining?
If you want a casual chic dining experience with lounge music
Book a table on the pretty bistro light covered back terrace and sit back and relax.
If you want to celebrate in style or are in the mood to party
Reserve one of the 2 spacious VIP rooms or secure a large table in the main bar/lounge area and order up a selection of dishes to share.
If you want a late night bite local style
Choose your booth or pull up a bar stool and enjoy a premium mixed drink, a portion of delicious crispy chicken wings with Chef Sweet’s Signature Asian BBQ dipping sauce (soooo good and about to be bottled) and soak up the DJ vibe.
Another great thing about the ETHNiK menu is its availability – you can order food to eat in or take out anytime between 6.00pm until closing time (which ranges between 1 am and 3.30 depending on the night) – making it Anguilla’s latest opening kitchen.
Mirabelle has played an integral behind the scenes role in large scale events for years and has produced a bunch of high-profile events though her Mpire brand. She’s also had her fair share of luxury tourism experience – as a youngster learning the restaurant business with her parents, owners of Dockside Grill and Smugglers Restaurant and, also, working as a member of the Straw Hat team before college. Then later working as PA to the General Manager of Viceroy. She knows a thing or two about looking after her guests – as do her team.
She currently employs 15 persons and is committed to seeing them through the pandemic with as much innovation and flexibility as possible.
IWAS@TheBar offers the 2 spacious and well-appointed VIP rooms. You can book different packages depending on your budget or desire. The rooms are air conditioned and come with your very own Karaoke Machine, custom decor and personal wait service. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Drinking and Dancing 5 nights a week
IWAS@THEBAR is open from 6pm, Wednesday through Sunday. The entertainment menu features different resident DJ’s every night – catering for all ages and styles. There are also drinks specials and occasional live music performances like last week’s Jazz night with young and talented duo, Kyiv and Kamal.
Drink prices are reasonable. Resident Mixologists Kristoff and Theron create unique cocktail offerings that showcase brands like Martell Cognac, Monkey 47 Gin, Cîroc Vodka and Captain Morgan Rum. Cocktails using premium spirits cost $12, mixed drinks $8 and house wine starts at $7 per glass although the sky’s the limit as far as the wine list goes with luxury American wines listings that include Josh Cellars and JUSTIN Vineyards.
The signage on the IWAS building proudly proclaims Bar, Bottles, Boutique and Mirabelle explained that Phase 3 for this impressive endeavour includes a bottle boutique & deli counter, coffee stop, and a food truck in the outdoor courtyard.
Mirabelle West is a true Anguillian entrepreneur with international flair.
Quad-ri-lingual (she speaks, Anguillian, English, French and Spanish), she was brought up by her French Mother and British Father in the village of Sandy Ground, completed her high school education in Anguilla before gaining her international education and work experience in France, China and the UK and neighbouring St Martin.
Mirabelle is probably better known to Anguillians than Anguilla’s tourists – but also as the Country Manager of International Wine and Spirits, one of the island’s largest wine and spirits supplier to the tourism industry – she knows Anguilla’s tourism scene well and has brought her wealth of expertise to bear when shaping her own company and phase 1 of the project IWAS@thebar.
This ‘Lady Boss’ is respected for her passionate love of Anguilla, engaging social media posts, marketing skills and customer relationships. She’s always loved creating showcase events and now she has her very own 450 person capacity venue.
If you want to know more about IWAS@THEBAR you can contact Mirabelle here.