Cape Town is your typical bar fly's metropolis, but if you're looking for something super special, something worth writing home about, you've got to check out these best kept bar secrets.
Here are three of our favourite lesser-known, or otherwise invisible to the naked eye, Cape Town bars. We love them for their unique take on tastes and spaces and we'll bet our last shot of premium tequila you're going to adore them too.
The Art of Duplicity
It doesn't get more enigmatic than this epic bar. Brainchild of entrepreneur David Donde and award-wining bartender Brent Perremore, The Art of Duplicity is a prohibition era-style speakeasy hidden in a renovated 1894 Victorian warehouse, behind a storefront in the heart of the City.
And, boy, do they know how to mix a drink: The Art of Duplicity holds several prestigious titles and awards, including the ‘2020 Cocktail Bar of the Year Award’ and overall ‘Bar to Watch in 2020’.
We can't tell you the address (obviously) but you can make a booking. Though, be warned, it's no ordinary reservation process: You'll get a unique password, address, and a series of prompts that'll lead you to a magical evening.
On arrival you'll be deftly confused. Eventually, hopefully, you'll find the man you need to talk to about a dog.
He'll escort you through a door, down a suspicious-looking corridor, to another door marked “No Entry”. The doorman will knock, and a man dressed in steampunk will request a password. Through that door is where you'll find the ultimate jazz and cocktail bar. No, really, it looks like something straight out of the 1920s; high-ceilings, plush couches, embellished velveteen lamps, rare liquors, antiques and oddities abound, and steampunk'd waitrons.
Food & Drinks
Expect cocktails that are experimental and unconventional dreamt up by Perremore, ‘The Rabbit’. He is a decorated mixologist with over 25 years of experience across London and Cape Town.
The Niwatori Tea, rated "the best he's ever had" by The Cocktail Pilgrim (a member of many cocktail awards’ judging panels), is a must-try. And so is the the Hillbilly Breakfast Flip made with smoked maple syrup, bourbon, and quail eggs. How's that for flipping cool breakkos?
Then there's Mae’s Pearl Necklace (named after American actress and singer, Mae West), and the speakeasy’s signature Coffee House Milk Punch – if you're looking for a close-second to the latter you can make in the comfort of your home, try your hand at being a mixologist with out Salted Caramel Espresso Martini recipe.
Food-wise, expect simple, light snacks: creative tapas-style offerings, nuts, and charcuterie and cheese platters. Make sure to throw your peanut shells on the floor – an etiquette from the old days that would be rude not to follow.
Make sure to book on Fridays and Saturdays and arrive by 9:30pm if you're looking for a musically-enveloping experience. Besides being a stellar sounding nursery for up-and-coming poetry and jazz artists, international legends such as Lee Thomson and the Muneeb Herman quartet have also graced The Art of Duplicity stage.
The Gin Bar
Another gem you won't find by looking from the street side, this innercity gin lover's oasis is tucked neatly behind a chocolate shop (which is why they score a 10/10 for ambient aromas). What's more is that it's housed in a heritage building that used to be a mortuary – a spooky aside that informs the interiors and the menu in the coolest way possible.
The Venue & Drinks
The warmth and seclusion of the Chapel Room is the ideal place for a first date or a long overdue catch up with a bestie who appreciates a bloody good gin (they've got a banging selection on tap too).
The charming courtyard is dappled in gentle light and demands you try one (or all) of their five “medicinal” remedies (see: cocktails). If you’re more of a straight-up G&T kinda pal, there are over 100 gins to choose from (80 of which are local).
Need some gin delivered? We can help with that. Shop gin online here.
And if gin doesn't tickle your pickly, there’s loads of quality wine and beer too. Besties of the bubbles, make sure not to miss the Bubbly Bar hidden away in the corner, in what used to be the Embalming Room. There you'll find the best of local cap classiques, including small lesser-known producers.
Address: 64A Wale Street, CBD, Cape Town
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday, 5pm 'til late. Thursday to Saturday, 3pm 'til late.
Contact 071 241 2277 or email@example.com
Found at the back of the swanky Alphen Boutique Hotel at the edge of perfectly-manicured lawns and the unbothered peace of historic Constantia greenery, this chic, contemporary bar offers a little escape from the buzz of the City's centre.
The Venue & Drinks
Housed on the terrace in a steel-and-glass pergola, it boasts stupendous views, plush décor, and a superb selection of cocktails and impeccable wines (most available by the glass). You have to try their signature Mango Margarita – or make your own using our recipe.
It's an outright lovely spot for special celebrations, after-work drinks, pre-dinner palate warmers, and sophisticated date nights. We especially like that there’s live music/DJs to kick off the weekend sundowners. You can even book for one of the low-key daytime pool parties on Saturdays and Sundays in summer, complete with DJs and waiter service. Talk about vibes on vibes!
Expect an expertly-curated selection of high-quality eats, from nibbles and small plates to sliders, platters and pizza, there really is something for every palate. We love their pizza and recommend their Buttered Basted Garlic Prawns.
Address: Alphen Drive, Constantia, Cape Town
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 4pm to 11pm. Saturday and Sunday, 12pm to 11pm.
Contact: 021 795 6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for more drink/mealspiration? Check out our recipe blog here.