Wondering where in Cape Town you can go for an extraordinary tipple? Then you simply have to experience the Cape Grace Hotel’s upmarket Bascule Bar, the haunt of whisky enthusiasts old and new.
Bascule whisky, wine & cocktail bar offers visitors a collection of over 500 whiskies and South African wine. While the wine list is extensive don’t let it fool you, because this fine Cape Town establishment prides itself on its selection of whiskies above all else, with a collection of Irish, Scottish, American, Japanese and many more.
Consistently striving to bring new ways of enjoying whisky to the fore, they have an entire cocktail menu dedicated to premium whisky cocktails. Indulge in a signature Rooibos Blazer or Bushveld Mule and experience whisky like never before.
Beyond its extensive whisky menu and excellence in service, what really sets Bascule Bar apart from is its location at the V&A Waterfront: make yourself at home at one of the outside tables and enjoy your single malt while enjoying the view of luxury yachts anchored in the international marina. On a chilly day you can settle inside at one of the low tables in front of the bar or near the fireplace.
Bascule Bar also offers two types of hour-long whisky tastings – a Shared Experience for R350 and a Sommelier’s Choice for R1 000 per person – from Saturday to Thursday. Memberships are also available upon enquiry.
These premium clubs are the cream of nightlife in Cape Town and demand a certain dress code.
Think chic, stylish and classy. You’re headed for a premium night out in Cape Town and you should look the part. Don’t be afraid to don heels and that little black dress you save for special occasions break out the suit trousers and dress shirts — even a tie isn’t going too far. Leave the jeans and sneakers at home, as clubs like these prefer a more sophisticated appearance:
Coco on Loop Street has a basic cover charge of about R50 and drinks are always a bit more expensive than your average Cape Town club, with high-end bottle service and private booths.
Era, also on Loop Street, is open on Friday and Saturday nights only. The age restriction is 21 for ladies and 23 for guys, proof of identity is essential and their dress code is strict.
Jade Champagne Bar and Lounge on Main Road, Greenpoint, is one of the few top-end clubs with no cover charge, but age restrictions vary so make sure you keep a form of identification on you just in case.
Asoka on Kloof Street is another smart venue that is lavish and vibrant and boasts the oldest olive tree in Cape Town in its courtyard. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, when entrance is free. Indulge in one of their signature cocktails.
Whether you’re meandering the V&A Waterfront or taking a walk through its popular sea-bordering suburbs, you’ll find the perfect bar or cocktail lounge to suit your taste.
If you find yourself stuck for places to unwind after a long day of sightseeing at the V&A Waterfront, look no further than its very first tenant, Ferryman’s Tavern. With their own brand of Ferryman’s Ale on tap, a delicious and varied pub menu and gorgeous view of the iconic Table Mountain, it’s a great venue for the whole family.
Right next door is Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House which boasts an outside and upstairs section. Nights have been known to get quite raucous around their jukebox, which houses classic sing-a long hits.
Across the harbour is Alba Lounge, an elegant cocktail bar with one of the best views in town from their welcoming deck. Whether you’re indulging in one of their signature cocktails or nibbling on something delicious from their extensive tapas menu, it’s a great place to spend an evening.
A little way down in Sea Point lies the rustic Heartache & Vine. This pub exudes character and is a local hangout where regulars gather to listen to their staple playlist, watch football and grab a bite to eat.
Cabrito on Somerset Road is a more upmarket bar and boasts a range of imported tequilas and mescal to choose from, as well as a great tapas menu that includes their signature nachos with homemade salsa. Order a chilli margarita if you dare and sit back on their deck while you watch the sun set over Cape Town Stadium.
Jessica Ross, Deputy Editor of House and Leisure, one of South Africa’s leading design and interiors magazine, has an eye for the finer stylings and ambience of Cape Town’s premium establishments, She points us in the direction of the city’s most sophisticated nightime venues.
The ornate Victorian theme of Tjing Tjing bar is evident from the moment you enter, with plush velvet bar stools, edgy illustrations by local artist Jade Klara, and a deep blue and white palette that reigns. Warmer evenings are best spent on the rooftop space, where one of Tjing Tjing’s top-notch cocktails go down easy with the sun. Evenings here are sophisticated yet relaxed so you’ll be as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as you would in a chic cocktail dress (or suit and tie).
De Waterkant is a vibrant hub filled with cool spots that beg a visit when in Cape Town, and Piano Bar is a great spot from which to take in the area’s vibe. It’s got just about everything you’d want from an upmarket night on the town: well-made cocktails, an extensive wine list, live jazz music and swank interiors. Dress sharp to get into swing with the lively ambiance.
Winding down the evening is easy when you’re seated in the chicest lounge in town, and the Mount Nelson hotel’s upmarket cocktail bar, the Planet Bar, is famous for their vodka Martinis, which go down well with one of the delicious bites from the tapas menu. It’s all about elegance at the Planet Bar, but that doesn’t make it austere, so think upmarket style in a laid-back setting.”
Don’t be surprised if you walk right past the doorway to Outrage of Modesty – (arguably) the hottest cocktail bar in Cape Town at the moment. A smartly dressed bouncer with a subtle earpiece is the only indication that you’ve arrived at this trendsetting bar on Shortmarket Street.
In the finest tradition of speakeasy-style cocktail bars (London’s The Blind Pig comes to mind) there’s little fanfare above the doorway of Outrage of Modesty. That’s left to the glasses of those lucky enough to get a seat inside. Reservations are essential here, with just 24 seats at the bar and the cosy leather banquettes.
At the bar, Australian mixologist Luke Whearty is the genius behind the groundbreaking cocktails on offer, creations that infuse local flavours and native ingredients with global trends and techniques. Luke and partner Aki Nishkiura are the duo behind Singapore’s acclaimed Operation Dagger, and bring a similar maverick approach to the cocktail menu here.
It’s a menu that encourages adventure. Rather than listing the ingredients of each cocktail, expect to be met by just the dominant flavour profiles: “Berry and the Bee”, for instance, bursts with wild blackberry and the perfume of fennel pollen. Gin, the base spirit, is infused with wild pelargonium, a plant commonly found in the mountains around Cape Town.
The cocktail list is the highlight here, of course, but there’s also a captivating selection of local and French wines on offer. It’s primarily a spot for pre-dinner drinks or late-night cocktails, although there is a small menu of upscale bar snacks: cured olives and fermented carrots, for example. If you’re feeling wealthy, the lobster tails in wasabi aioli won’t disappoint.
Outrage of Modesty redefines the notion of a bar, and has made the locals sit up and realise that a cocktail doesn’t have to be another gin martini. Whearty has weaved his magic here, and you’d do well to book a seat at the bar.
Cape Town’s city centre is home to some of the best and busiest craft bars and lounges that offer anything from craft beers to speciliaty cocktails, and cater to a host of different tastes and moods.
In Park Road off Kloof Street lies the Casablanca-inspired Ricks Café Americain restaurant and bar. The 100-year-old Victorian building boasts numerous nooks and crannies where you can sip leisurely on a Casablanca cocktail or sprawl on a deck chair and enjoy the daily Happy Hour special.
If you’re looking for something a little livelier, The Dubliner in Long Street is the perfect spot for a night of entertainment. Cape Town’s first authentic Irish pub has Guinness and Kilkenny beer on tap and showcases live music every night of the week, making it a favourite amongst tourists.
Tucked away around the corner off Long Street is Julep. This cosy cocktail bar is a favourite amongst locals, as its location makes it a low-key venue that spins various genres of music until the early hours of the morning.
Further down Long Street is the yellow building that housesof Beerhouse, the bustling hub of all things beer, with 25 different draught beers on tap. For those who prefer their beer in a more laid back setting, Weinhaus & Beer Garden on Bree Street is more fitting, with a craft beer, wine and cocktail menu that can be enjoyed in their cosy cobblestoned courtyard.
Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar further down Bree Street is a must for any gin connoisseur and houses over 80 local and international varieties of quality gin and an extensive menu of gin-inspired cocktails.