This article has been originally posted by The Inner Circle in South Africa
Peter Methven knows them all - from the trendy hot spots, to the lesser-known must-visit's and the hidden gems. These are, in his own words, his favourites:
Lucky Shaker for me is perhaps one of the best bars in South Africa and I wouldn’t see it far from perhaps becoming one of the best in Africa, quite a statement. Well why’s that? To me it ticks all of the boxes, every person I’ve had the luck to take there has fallen in love with the place immediately. I myself was introduced to the bar by a colleague myself. For me, their hospitality is utterly on point, an incredibly welcoming environment where you are waited on hand-over-foot. Mike Stephenson is the owner and resident, he really lives in the place. Which is what makes it so unique. He recently got engaged and we joked about the legality of marrying your bar in South Africa. He himself says that “Lucky Shaker’s approach to cocktails is as pure as possible, and we use whatever’s available”. Lucky shaker even stopped using eggs to limit their waste, a historic ingredient in cocktails for its texture and replaced it with pineapple or a split milk. They didn’t like throwing away the yokes as there was only so much lemon curd they could make! Finally it’s a place to enjoy an Absolut Elyx Pineapple, also known as a “lost in translation”.
The Landmark to me is arguably the best cocktail bar in Johannesburg. It’s staffed by Julian Short and Chris Rule, both in their own way South African cocktail stars. Julian was the winner for the Havana Club Grand prix in South Africa. While collectively he and Chris won the Absolut Invite competition and went on to compete in Sweden. This level of skill is reflected in the bar which has a fantastic array of spirits. Also including various unavailable commercially in South Africa itself. The vibe is great and it really does pump at the weekend, a great atmosphere, staff and drinks what more could you want? Again it’s a spot to try an Absolut Elyx Pineapple. And, if you’re feeling romantic a great date spot too.
Hank's Olde Irish
Hank's is probably my favourite hang out in Cape Town. I'm generally found here with friends. It's built in the catacombs of a church and its arches give it both character and a homely feel. It has a fantastic selection of whisky. It's one of the few places I know I can enjoy an Aberlour as well as a great selection of our Irish pot stills. It's a party spot in the weekends, but you can still hold a solid conversation over the hustle and bustle. Ask Rob for a whisky recommendation, and there's a good chance you might end up with a tequila short afterwards. Right now in winter it has a very cosy vibe, but in summer it was an excellent spot to hang out, outdoors and enjoy a double Jameson.
Outrage of Modesty
Certainly the most conceptually-progressive cocktail bar in South Africa. and you need to book ahead as the place with its small capacity fills up fast, every night of the week. Based on a concept from Singapore it bears a resemblance to a clean, eastern restaurant rather than an experiential cocktail bar. And that's exactly what it is, by all means go and drink their entire menu but that could be a pricey experience. For me it's a place to pop into perhaps before a First Thursday and enjoy an experience. Particularly as the drinks go for around 100 Rand each. I would highly recommend trying to sit at the bar as you can watch the barmen create a plethora of syrups, foams, bitters and sweets. You will always be provided with a little pallet cleanser on arrival, and the last time I was there I enjoyed a slice of pickled watermelon. It's also the first place I was introduced to the sour fig. Most importantly however you are never told which alcohol spirit your cocktail contains until after you've finished. The waiter will advise you on what fits your flavour profile than your normal go to. A surprisingly rewarding experience. And you can't go without trying their signature hot and cold, as it sounds a cocktail which is both hot and cold. Definitely a favourite.
Bascule Whisky bar
Bascule Whisky bar is located under the Cape Grace hotel. The selection of Whisk which they have is incomparable. In particular they stock some rare The Glenlivet's - some dating as much as forty years old. Although I can't profess to having tried them! We are however in the process of completing our own The Glenlivet lounge there and I'm looking forward to hosting people there soon/ Also, if you're looking at swatting up your whisky knowledge, a great person to have a chat with is Victor Kirkbride, the bar manager, who really has a passion for the golden liquid and took over from our very own George Novitskas. Furthermore if you keep your eyes peeled you might bump into Johan Blaauw, our very own Chivas Master who I accompanied to Shanghai for the global final. Bascule has a more relaxed atmosphere than the above mentioned places but I think that's testament to being in an environment where the only stimulus you need is a whisky tumbler and some fine single malt.
You can follow Peter on his Instagram account.
This article has been originally published on The Inner Circle - the exclusive source to unique experiences in South Africa.