From hipster-clad neighbourhood bars to intoxicating five-star establishments (pardon the pun), we've rounded up some of Joburg's favourite new watering holes for thirsty travellers and inquisitive residents.
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It may be only a year old, but Melville newcomer Mootee
has just been recognised as one of this year’s top 10 best new cocktail bars in the world by the Spirited Awards – called 'The Oscars' of the bar industry. The bar has its own laboratory, full of crazy distillers and spinners, which makes trademarks like their crystal clear Brandy and Coke, and Umqombothi 'Royale'. The decor has that Manhattan speakeasy sensibility but treated with a South African spin, and there's plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the highveld's balmy nights.
This 'Pan Asian Rock 'n Roll Restaurant and Bar' is more renowned for its delicious food menu than its cocktails, but as anyone who has been to Saigon Suzy
knows, there is more to The Suzy than meets the eye. Aside from the fact that it has private dining rooms and karaoke booths (!!), the cocktail menu is full of delicious re-imaginings of bar staples. Expect treats like a Nagasaki Negroni, made with plum wine, and the Hanoi Hannah – a slushy, sweet, gin, sake, pineapple and litchi flavourbomb.
ALSO READ: Keep up to date with the best in JHB using our Joburg City Guide
streetbar named desire
Just next door to Saigon Suzy is A Streetbar Named Desire
, a cocktail bar filled with so much literary innuendo that even the most hardcore book types will crack a smile. You can look forward drinks named The Kindness of Strangers, Coarse Behavior and, naturally, the Tennis-ee Williams (that might include actual Tennis biscuits). While soaking up the view of the surrounding leafy suburb from the upper deck, make sure to order a few plates from the tiny but delicious tapas menu that also has lots of tasty vegetarian options.
eb social kitchen and bar
Speaking of views and literature, The Exclusive Books Social Kitchen and Bar
has the best of both. Staple cocktails are named after novels, which you can peruse on your way into the bar, purchase, and then read, overlooking the changing Sandton skyline. Every month they also celebrate the birthday of famous authors by creating a cocktail inspired by their works. In September it's the turn of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man
and D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love
It's also very hidden from the rest of the city, and Hyde Park Corner for that matter, so if you're looking for something a little more quiet and relaxed then the Social Kitchen and Bar is the place.
sin + tax
This concealed spot is for the adventurous cocktail drinker. Aside from the fabulous decor and great music, Sin + Tax
cocktails are experimental – and wild – and everything that the Sin + Tax idea encapsulates. Go for the new seasonal menu, called Bizaar, which is all about capturing the essence of their favourite spices.
Maboneng isn't short on bars, but Al Lado
stands out. Not just for its extraordinary tapas (it is the sister to Che Argentine Grill, after all) or Cuban-Gothic decor, but also for its mostly organic, locally sourced (wherever possible) cocktails that take the form of 'Twisted Classics', 'Whiskey Rebellions' and 'Barsmith Picks'. You can even work with the bartender to create your own one-of-a-kind drink.
For the most glamorous bar in all of Joburg, head to the top of Rosebank's gorgeous Trumpet Building, part of the Keyes Art Mile, to experience Marble.
While it's often near-impossible to get a booking at the restaurant, the bar at Marble offers visitors a chance to see the view, which is one of the city's pretties, and still experience the type of flame-grilling the restaurant is famous for, albeit in a drink. Think bourbon, rooibos and orange zest infused to create a martini topped with the Marble finish — smoked pineapple juice.