Night Out

Sir James van der Merwe


3 / 5

May 11, 2018

Inspired by a fictional globetrotter's scouring of the planet for the perfect bar, Sir James van der Merwe may just be what he was looking for all along.

Like nothing else in South Africa – or perhaps even the entire world – Katy’s Palace Bar is a wild and wooly space on the outskirts of Sandton near Johannesburg. Crossing the threshold at Katy’s is like strolling into another world, a realm full of eclectic and adventurous accents. You’ll get the impression immediately that the colorful vintage artifacts that adorn the walls and ceiling space at Katy’s were collected by stamped-suitcase-toting globetrotters and this spirit pervades everything they do at Katy’s. Katy’s Palace Bar is typically open for special events only, and sees a parade of weddings, parties, and functions of all sorts fill up its palatial space. Hidden inside Katy’s is the Sir James van der Merwe, a bar that opens on Wednesdays, which for those in the know has become a weekly ritual and place to see-and-be-seen. It doesn’t take long to find out that the fictional Sir James is the globetrotter who inspired the decor of the venue and who is alleged to have gone on a worldwide quest to find the perfect place for a tipple, and to have brought all the best findings from his quest back to Katy’s to open his own bar. The bar he came up with is a hodgepodge of wall coverings straight from a souk, wax-dripped candelabras, vintage radios, rusty  tin signs, and the obligatory pinball machine. The bar serves flavors from his travels and all pair perfectly with the colorful sunsets you can spy from the terrace.