Best Speciality Bars in Cape Town

By Bianca Bunge.

Exploring Cape Town’s speciality bars is quite an adventure indeed, and we’re about to countdown our favourite speciality spots just for you, buckle up, it promises to be pretty epic! Although she’s a stunner, the Mother City is certainly not all looks, and while she may be one of the most magnificent cities in the world, she’s every bit as vibrant, daring and bold as she is beautiful. Boasting some of the coolest speciality bars, not only in South Africa but dare we say the world, Cape Town invites you to experiment and explore the thriving and thrilling bar scene to your heart’s content. Whether your drink of choice is gin, craft beer, whiskey, rum, wine or a classic cocktail, the Mother City has a speciality bar just for you, and we promise she won’t disappoint! Let the speciality bar countdown begin!

8. Beerhouse – Craft Beer Bar


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If craft beer is your jam, Beerhouse is exactly where you should be at! There’s no denying the fact that Cape Town is at the very top of its craft game with the craft beer revolution leading the way, and Beerhouse is only too happy to be the leading general of it all! Beerhouse prides itself on being the flagship Beer Revolution brand and is committed to making yellow the new colour of beer in South Africa, well, if that’s not dedication to the craft beer cause, we’re not sure what is! Located along the viby Long Street of Cape Town’s inner city as well an in Belville Park, Beerhouse boasts a cool contemporary beer hall with 25 taps and their legendary ’99 Bottles of beer on the wall’ of the best local and international beer. With that much beer to choose from you better know you’re in for a GOOD time! Beerhouse prides themselves on being a hub for all things beer and strive to incubate and uphold the true ideals of craft all while giving local micro-breweries the chance to strut their stuff and show both the local and international beer crowd just what they’re made of! Because local is lekker, and we LOVE it, and so does Beerhouse!

7. Rum Tum Tum – Rum Bar


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While Captain Jack Sparrow might have put Rum on the map, and don’t try and deny it, you know it’s true, Rum Tum Tum is keeping the rum rave going and contributing to the Cape Town rum rise! Once the drink of choice of dockyard joints, this versatile liquor has seen an upswing in popularity among the mixologists of the world and certainly Cape Town too! And it all comes together at Rum Tum Tum on Bree Street! This cool Cuban lounge speciality rum bar boasts more than 40 types of local and international rum brands, an innovative cocktail menu and, for those after a boozy ’80s throwback, there’s even piña colada on tap, pretty epic right! But of course, the star of the show is the RUM, and Rum Tum Tum definitely makes sure everyone knows it! By featuring an extensive variety of rum on the menu, ranging in everything from the Caribbean to the Vrystaat, it makes sure to include rum-lovers from all walks of life. That combined with the vibrant Cuban inspired shabby chic interior, Rum Tum Tum is the perfect city escape for thirsty rum-loving pirates and inquisitive social-snappers with the aspirations of day drinking and having a REALLY good time! The Litchi Samba is without a doubt a fan-favourite and comes highly recommended, so be sure to give it a try of you’re a first-time visitor!

6. Orphanage Cocktail Emporium – Cocktail Bar


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Cape Town and cocktails go hand-in-hand, it’s just one of those things, and Orphanage Cocktail Emporium allow us to live out all our Cape Town cocktail hopes and dreams one uniquely delicious cocktail combination at a time! Some are tall, some are short, and some are even served in a tea-cup, but that just makes us love this cool cocktail gem all the more! Widely accepted to serve up some of the very best cocktails in town, Orphanage Cocktail Emporium located on the corner of Orphan and the ever-trendy Bree Street is a true diamond in the rough. And while it might not be your typical beach-front sunset cocktail spot, this speakeasy-style bar boasting slick sounds of cool lounge beats prides itself on being a place for lost souls to enjoy marvellous mixtures, music & company and we’re ALL about it! And once you experience it for the first time, you will be too! While the Orphanage Cocktail Emporium specialises as an emporium of mind-blowing cocktails, they also serve champagne, superb wines, an assortment of craft beers and spirits as well as virtuous tipples for those that prefer to remain pure and untainted by alcoholic liberations. But one thing is for sure, this is one Cape Town speciality cocktail bar that is without a doubt worth a visit!

5. Charango Barbacoa – Pisco Sour Bar


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Charango Barbacoa, a Latin America locale with a very sexy sharing style menu and some might say the best Pisco Sours in town, has fast become a Bree Street favourite among locals and travellers alike! But being South Africa’s first Pisco Bar, we’d certainly not expect anything less! But for those who have never tried a pisco sour before, we’re sure you’re scratching your head right now wondering what on earth we’re talking about, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Pisco Sours is a Peruvian cocktail neatly packed with Pisco, traditional Peruvian white brandy, lime juice, xylitol, egg whites and finished off with a dribble of bitters and it really is quite an incredible treat, especially at Charango! This speciality pisco sours bar ensures they present their visitors with a Pisco Pisco menu that includes a variety of versions of the drink. But if you’re not entirely sure we’d suggest you opt for the traditional recipe or Charango’s renditions: orange and buchu sours, chili and chocolate sours or rose and cardamom sours, which are all great picks! But besides great pisco sours, Charango also boasts a jam-packed drinks menu that has absolutely anything and everything your heart desires, from wine, cocktails, craft beers, ciders and a long list of spirits, there’s truly something for everyone!

4. Hank’s – Whiskey Bar


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As Mark Twain once said, too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is never enough! And this Cape Town speciality whiskey bar celebrates this warm, amber tinted spirit in every way it can. Plus, it welcomes whiskey lovers from all walks of life, and even if you’re not a die-hard whiskey fan you’re invited to come along for the epic ride anyway! With its uber cool blend of Tom Waits quirkiness, old English pub character, historical stone walls, long mahogany bar and moody golden lighting, Hank’s is sure to create just the right mood for a whiskey journey you won’t soon forget! Located in both the inner city’s trendy Bree Street and Stellenbosch, Hank’s Whiskey Bar wants as many whiskey lovers to join in on the fun. But be sure to keep your eyes on the prize when looking for its cool Bree Street location, with a wooden door and bouncer being the only hints that there might be a hidden whiskey treasure inside, so be sure to not let this Cape Town whiskey gem pass you by. With a die-hard dedication to whiskey, boasting a variety from around the world, you’re in for quite an experience! Along with a usual array of Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies, bourbons and blends you will find brands such as Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, Green Spot and Yellow Spot single potstill Irish whiskey, Middleton Barry Crocket and many MORE! But besides being a world-class whiskey wonder, Hank’s has pretty much any drink you can imagine thereby allowing you to take your pick!

3. Botanical Bar – Botanicals, shrubs and bitters


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From one Mother City gem to the next, the Botanical Bar is definitely another speciality bar fan-favourite with a local botanical twist! Celebrating all things botanical, it aims to pay tribute to the Western Cape’s rich diversity of flora and fauna in the most unique way! Sister bar to the Gin Bar, the Botanical Bar holds the title of the Mother City’s first botanical-inspired bar and is certainly making quite a name for itself one fresh and fragrant botanical-infused drink at a time thereby making sure all Cape Town locals and globe-trotting visitors get their fynbos fix in the best possible way. Paying tribute to some of Cape Town’s most celebrated regional botanicals, The Botanical Bar’s speciality drinks namely The Namaqualand, The Langeberg, The Paarl Rock and The Limpopo, are all jam-packed with bold flavours and infused with the true taste of the Western Cape in all its botanical glory! Besides experimenting with local botanicals and flavours, it also prides itself on showcasing some of South Africa’s best and most unique craft liquor. So, you can certainly expect to find some truly exceptional homemade botanical tinctures, bitters, syrups, vermouths, and shrubs aplenty, providing a library of unique flavours dedicated to taking you on the most epic taste adventure!

2. Publik – Wine Bar


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Calling all wine-lovers, this one is for you! It certainly no secret that Capetonians love their wine, so it only makes sense that a speciality wine bar as cool as Publik will have us falling head-over-heels wanting to get in on all the wine drinking action! This Kloof Nek Road wine bar wonder is the stuff vino dreams are made of, but Publik is certainly no ordinary wine bar. Dedicated to finding and sharing wines from sustainably farmed vineyards and made with minimal intervention in the cellar, Publik aims to showcase the true shining star of the experience – the wine! You can therefore expect to discover quality, unique and interesting lesser known wines that promises to take you on an epic journey of wine discovery, and as the wine list changes regularly it gives you the opportunity to taste something new and cool each time you visit! And what makes Publik even cooler is that it is by no means a wine-snob, its lively and welcoming vibe invites everyone to join in on the wine-loving fun, from vino connoisseurs to I-kinda-know-my-wine peeps to those completely new to the wonderful wine drinking world, everyone is welcome!

1. The Gin Bar – Gin


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Bring on the GIN! Claiming our number one spot is none other than Cape Town favourite Gin nirvana – the Gin Bar! Gin has become somewhat of a culture in Cape Town with the Mother City’s gin scene exploding in recent years with gin gems like the Gin Bar having a lot to do with it. At the Gin Bar they take their gin seriously, VERY seriously, and aim to make the entire experience all about the star of the show – the gin of course! So, if you’re a gin-lover at heart, the Gin Bar is without a doubt your destined gin nirvana! Known as one of Cape Town’s coolest hidden gems and hippest hangouts all in one, the Gin Bar was one of the first bars in the Mother City to dedicate itself to all things gin, thereby making it the true OG of the Cape Town gin scene! It is also one of the country’s only true speak-easy bars, how cool is that? Fondly known by some locals as the ‘secret’ Gin bar, mainly due to its hush-hush, unmarked location hidden behind a cool Chocolate Café, Honest Chocolate and nestled in a Mediterranean-style secret courtyard, thereby making it a super cool Cape Town spot! As the name would suggest, all the cocktails contain Gin, well besides the virgins of course. The menu is concise and definitely favours quality over quantity, just as it should be! The Gin Bar has cleverly named their classic five cocktails the Head, Heart, Hope, Soul and Ambition, all intended to provide their drinker with as much needed healing for whatever may ail them, thereby certainly adding an extra unique and personalised touch to the experience.

By Bianca Bunge.