Cape Town is lively, sophisticated and one of the world’s 10 most loved cities at any time of the year. But in winter, when driving rain or cold can keep people from spilling out onto the pavements, finding the city’s favourite drinking holes is not as easy as cruising the streets to follow the crowd; the crowd is usually safely sequestered indoors.
We thought we’d be helpful and highlight our top trendy drinking holes in Cape Town, in the centre of the city…
&UNION, St Stephen’s Church, 110 Bree Street
This chilled venue that was once a church and a house of ill-repute, is now all about beer and great food. Charcuterie hangs from the rafters and is best sampled together with at least one of a range of craft beers.Outside there are long wooden tables (sheltered under a Bedouin tent), cobblestones, stone walls and everyone who is anyone (and a great many others besides). Their beef Prego, free-range eggs and farm-cured bacon are said to be almost as good as the organic coffee. Oh, and they also do wines.
Photograph: Courtesy of and © Alexander Bar & Cafe in Strand Street
ALEXANDER BAR & CAFE, 76 Strand Street
Try the cucumber and elderflower martini at this unpretentious public house (complete with old-style telephones on the tables – use them to jump the queue when it gets busy). Alexander’s co-founders were inspired by trips to Berlin and Istanbul when they dreamed up this alternative style saloon – think Persian rugs, luxuriant drawingroom chairs, gilded mirrors and ancient typewriters. Choose from the fine whisky selection, classic cocktails and craft beers (there is also a theatre upstairs).
CAFÉ CAPRICE, 37 Victoria Road, Camps Bay
Not quite the centre of Cape Town, but nonetheless one of the landmark establishments on Victoria Road in the trendy beach-side suburb of Camps Bay, Café Caprice is a typical beach bar that hums on any given week day and particularly over weekends. Visitors and locals (emphasis on young) alike hangout here. Their raspberry margarita gets rave reviews, as do the burgers and views of the sunset. The drinks and food are surprisingly reasonably priced, the mood relaxed, and best of all, they’re always open…
THE SKY BAR, THE GRAND DADDY HOTEL, 38 Long Street
Another roof top bar, the Sky Bar stands sheltered under a bedouin tent and shares its space with a series of vintage Airstream trailers that serve as a seriously distinct and alternative accommodation option (it must have been quite an effort to get them up there). To add even further to the lively appeal, the Pink Flamingo Roof Top Cinema hosts classics up here. All is closed this winter for a refurb – so watch this space!
THE TWANKEY, Taj Oyster Bar
Beautiful looking, upmarket Twankey is all about indulgence. From the dark wood surfaces, high ceilings, and tucked away booths in corners (for privacy), to the efficient, but remote, waiters this perfect spot deserves a mention. The all-day menu that serves freshly baked croissants, pastries and Barista coffee for breakfast, and tapas style plates from noon until 10pm delivers highlights like Jalapeno poppers filled with cream cheese and fried, or beef and Guinness pie, roast butternut salad, and oysters! The bar serves local wines, bubbly and the freshest Guinness in town, plus they do theme days like Crafty Mondays, Tou Can tuesdays, Wine Down Wednesdays etc. (you get the idea).
Photograph: Courtesy of and © Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, Cape Town
TJING TJING ROOFTOP BAR, 165 Longmarket Street
Selected in 2012 as one of the world’s top 10 hottest new bars in the world (up there with London’s Worship Street Whistling Shop) it doesn’t matter if you freeze to death up on the roof, this is a bar where you want to be seen. It also needs to be experienced. Housed in a 183-year-old building, with Japanese-inspired décor and impressive views out over the city, not only is the Tapas menu inspired, but the cocktails too.
TORO WINE BAR, 68 Waterkant Street
At Toro Wine Bar in De Waterkant the combination of wine and good Italian-style apéritifs is enough of a drawcard, but add to this an unpretentious atmosphere and the promise of boutique and artisan wines, and you’ve got yourself a find. Perfect for intimate dinners, birthday drinks or before the party warm-ups. The wine selection is on glass shelves on one of the walls, and there are only about six tables, so book ahead.
ZULA SOUND BAR, 98 Long Street
The best of local music combined with cocktails, Zula hosts acoustic sessions providing a stage for local and international artists to strut their stuff, and a bar that serves anything from draught beer to cocktails named after musicians (try the Michael Jackson – a white russian). Their newer venue further down Long Street has an upstairs stage, meaning that if you just want to drink, whilst foregoing the band, you can get in without paying entrance. The sound board in the main room downstairs is a floating car. They serve great lunches too.
Please don’t drink and drive! Book into one of the trendy hotels in Cape Town Central or get a taxi to take you home. We recommend Scoota Express – call them on 079 324-6959. They’ll drive you AND your car home!