(Image by Yours Truly)
The Gin Bar, CBD
Or the ‘Secret Gin Bar’ as it also called. It gets its secret identity due to a hidden courtyard, invisible from the street entrance. The bar is tucked behind Honest Chocolate on Wale Street, where you walk through the café and find yourself in a quaint and quirky courtyard. The downstairs bar sits in a little room off the courtyard and serves four signature gin cocktails from its beautiful, ornate wooden and marble bar. A newer addition to the Gin Bar is an upstairs bar area, which offers spacious seating, that caters to larger groups and events. Look out for weekly cocktail concoctions.
Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge, East City
This swanky cocktail bar and lounge opened its doors this year and since has earned itself a massive following. The decor inspires sophistication with lush, bold textured seating, splashes of neon lighting, patterned wallpaper and glamorous deco chandeliers. The dynamic space allows for big group gatherings or a relaxed one-on-one drink at the bar. Cocktails are made to delight the senses with a special cocktail developed each week. Food sees various tapas platters with dishes like roast ribeye, seared venison and Dauphinoise fries with celeriac mayo.
The Power and the Glory, Tamboerskloof
This is everyone’s favourite hangout, mostly for locals in the area but also for those from far. You simply can’t beat a chilled drink at this spot, which will no doubt end with one of their famous pretzel roll hot dogs. They serve local craft beers on tap like Devils Peak and Citizen and have a great independent wine selection. Get a seat by the window, and watch the world go by over Kloof Nek. By day, the space is a café opening early for breakfast and great coffee.
Yours Truly on Kloof
Another definitive favourite with a lot of open air space, and consistently vibey atmosphere, Yours Truly knows how to pull a crowd. Weekends see DJs playing on the upstairs deck, and tables crowded with diverse groups of locals and foreigners. During the day, the outdoor space and small indoor area dedicate itself to good coffee, filled rolls and wholesome salads, with evenings focusing on their signature oblong pizzas. This Yours Truly is one of three, with the original café on Long Street and the newer addition bar and café on Loop Street.
Tjing Tjing, CBD
Tjing Tjing takes you to that quintessential New York-style rooftop bar but with an undeniable local quality to it. The space sits in a triple storey heritage building off Long Street, taking up the attic, and spills out onto a rooftop, embedded into the surrounding city. The music goes on until 2am, featuring various genres like house and electronic, and the cocktails are superb. The bar offers intimate seating arrangements on couches, with outdoor lounges as well. Below, Tjing Tjing Torii serves Asian tapas, that are highly regarded for their creative flavour pairings and quality fish and meat.
Walking along Bree Street, many bars and restaurants might catch your eye, but for Hanks, if you blink, you might miss it. From the street, the wooden door and bouncer are the only clues to the bar inside. It sits beneath a church and is attached to contemporary Greek restaurant, Love Thy Neighbour, which also offers a passage to the bar. Hanks is filled with character, thanks to its historical stone walls, long mahogany bar and moody golden light that makes the space feel instantly inviting. The bar is dedicated to whiskey – offering a variety from around the world, however they have pretty much any drink you like and make a mean Negroni. They also serve food and have sleek black leather booths for a more private gathering. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for DJ nights and gigs.
Vue, De Waterkant
If you’re up for something glitzy with a 360° view of Cape Town, look no further. Vue is perched on top of the Capital Mirage, encased in a perimeter of glass, allowing views of Cape Town at every angle in the space. The large deck outside has a pool stretching right to the edge of the building. Inside there’s a sit-down dining room to enjoy the scrumptious array of tapas, that embody flavours from across the globe. The bar and restaurant lends itself to special events or smaller meet-ups, always promising a sophisticated experience.
The Planet Bar at Mount Nelson Hotel, Gardens
The Planet Bar, like the hotel it sits in, is a long-standing gem that has stood the test of time due to its impeccable service and consistent quality. Every cocktail you order promises to be as good as the last, and the same applies to the café style food. The iconic space invites both guests of the hotel, and locals after a lavish drink. The outdoor area offers views of the manicured sculpture and rose garden, beneath the famous pink hotel building. Inside during Winter, cosy up on the soft golden couches and share stories with friends by the fire. The drinks menu is one of the longest we’ve seen, with nine variations of martinis, and a serious number of wine and champagne options.
The Crazy Horse, CBD
The Crazy Horse aims to bring a slice of English pub culture to Bree Street, complete with a Sunday carvery, Yorkshire puddings and Scotch eggs. The decor has perfectly executed that quintessential pub feel with an aged wooden bar downstairs, above a checkered floor, and a lush red carpeted staircase leading to a dining area upstairs with chesterfield leather booths and matching carpeted floors. The tasty, comfort food menu was conceptualised by Chef Matt Manning, who combined his creative know-how with classic British cuisine. Behind the bar, you’ll find appropriate beers on tap like London Pride, as well as various local bottled craft beers.
Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre, CBD
Alexander Bar takes patrons to an old era of dining and drinking, creating a sort of fantasy space with a totally vintage interior. Each table has a retro telephone which operates on a rotary system where guests can call for service or chat with a fellow guest across the room, enabling socialising which is at the crux of the bar’s mission. The heritage building it sits in is hard to miss with its bright orange exterior, and inside it provides an old-world charm, matched by the decor and seating. Drinks feature classic cocktails, craft beers and a good wine selection, and music flows from jazz to disco depending on the night. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming theatre events.
The Vic, Gardens
Sitting in an old Victorian house, The Vic comprises various seating arrangements in an overall laid-back atmosphere. The eclectic decor gives a homey feel like you’re in the comfort of a friend’s lounge; this combined with a cosy feel, make it an ideal spot for Winter. On the menu, you’ll find wood fired pizzas which are the speciality here, and a huge selection of local craft beers. Look out for vinyl nights on Fridays and other gig and jam session events during the week.
Under the same ownership as The Village Idiot and Harrington’s, Villains sits in an old ale house, which gives it the quality of a traditional pub but with a more contemporary feel. It’s situated in the middle of town, surrounded by office buildings, which has made it popular for after-work drinks. The pub dedicates itself to beer, offering a wide variety of local craft beers on tap, many sitting on their beer tap wall. Upstairs they offer more intimate booth seating in a loft which offers bottle service. Food is also taken seriously with mammoth burgers, hot dogs and steak and chips making up some of the menu.
The House of Machines, CBD
The burgeoning Shortmarket Street owes its success to this spot, which was one of the first to open and kickstart the now lively nightlife and dining scene. The grungy, yet sophisticated bar has managed to remain relevant for some years now, as one of the city’s cooler hot spots, keeping its edge with its seemingly effortless approach. They serve speciality cocktails made from bespoke spirits, as well as craft beers and much more. Music is a central feature of the bar with live gigs and DJ sets from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Check out their website for upcoming events.