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Where to go for after-work drinks, sundowners and first dates

Nothing helps you wind down after a long day at the office quite like a chilled, boozy beverage in a vibey venue. These characteristics can also come in handy when you’re on a first date – along with a contingency exit plan! Blessed with the best views, the most delicious cocktails and craft beers, or that irresistible happy hour, these are the top spots for sundowners, first dates and after-work tipples in your area.

 

Johannesburg

Hudson’s (Parkhurst)
Joburg office workers tend to congregate here for a much-needed drink after work. Although there’s no view to write home about, this venue is about seeing – and rubbing shoulders with – the other patrons. Some of the appetisers are discounted between 4.30pm and 6.30pm – be sure to try the traditional tacos with eight-hour slow-braised pulled pork, black beans, salsa, cheddar and sour cream, or calzoncini, which are similar to mini pizza pies, with creamy peri-peri chicken, caramelised onion and mozzarella (R54).

Hudson’s. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Hudson’s. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Katy’s Palace Bar (Kramerville)
Situated in the trendy design area of Kramerville, Katy’s Palace Bar is predominantly an events venue, but on Wednesdays from 4pm and every first Sunday of the month from 10am to 6pm their Sir James van der Merwe venue opens to the public. Sit back, enjoy drinks from the fully stocked bar, snack on beef or chicken pregos or mezze boards, and soak up the brilliant views of Sandton with Joburg’s trendy set. A delicious weigh-and-pay harvest table is available on first Sundays, when they also have live music.

Living Room (Maboneng Precint)
It’s also known as Eco Urban Café & Tiakaya Showspace, but whatever the name, the Jozi hipsters like congregating here on Sunday afternoons. Parties usually start at 12 noon and continue until 8pm, and are popular for their laid-back atmosphere, 180-degree views, excellent drinks and live DJs. Quirky garden furniture and décor create an urban oasis. There’s an extensive tapas and platter menu featuring pickles, breadsticks with homemade hummus, fries, sweet-potato wedges, biltong, olives and a cheeseboard – the list goes on. Drinks range from Pongracz to Veuve or cocktails like a ‘baked apple’, made with cinnamon whiskey, appletizer, ginger ale and bitters.

Cocktails on the San Deck

San Deck at the Sandton Sun. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Palazzo Terrace and Rialto Bar (Fourways)
While Monte Casino’s mock-Italianate architecture might not be synonymous with class, you can still get your Clooney-and-Amal on at the Palazzo Hotel’s Rialto Bar or on the glitzy terrace. Sip on any of their signature cocktails (mojito, classic pina colada or pink lemonade mocktail with raspberries) and nibble on snacks (cured salmon and avo on whole wheat, or a trio of chicken piccata sliders with gorgonzola, smoked tomato ketchup and aioli) while taking in the view over the award-winning Italian-style gardens with ponds and lemon trees. La dolce vita!

San Deck at the Sandton Sun (Sandton)
The San Deck at the Sandton Sun combines a view over the urban bustle with views as far as the Hartebeespoort and Magaliesberg mountains on clear days. With three large fire pits, luxurious outdoor furniture, wooden decking, designer umbrellas, cooling and warming equipment, and a flurry of waiters with drinks held high on trays, this is South Africa’s modern-day response to the five-star hotels of colonial Singapore or Hanoi. Popular for launches and corporate events, the spacious outside area can also offer a quiet spot to bask in the setting sun and dream of African plains. It’s open daily from 6.30pm to 11pm and orders can be placed at the San Bar or the San Restaurant. Try one of their fabulous Champagnes or MCCs – there’s a good selection available in smaller bottles such as the 375ml Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, or the 185ml Laborie Brut at R70 – and end with a ginger and dark chocolate tart (R65)

Social on Main

Social on Main. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Social on Main (Bryanston)
Described a happy mix of restaurant and bar, Social on Main often has some big event on; they can host up to 270 people and offer a variety of services including invites, banners, champagne and tequila fountains, live bands, street magicians, snake charmers, circus acts and much more. Drinks are all about the flavoured mojitos or their range of G&Ts served in special globe glasses. Snacks include popcorn with parmesan and oregano; mini lamb kebabs; prawn lollipops with ginger firecracker dip; and the antipasto flatbread with chorizo, grilled aubergine, courgettes, artichokes, rocket, tomato and balsamic.

The Veuve Clicquot champagne bar at 54 on Bath (Rosebank)
Adjacent to the hotel’s main dining room, the Veuve Clicquot champagne bar on the top floor offers beautiful views of the city skyline and a London park-like atmosphere with large trees and a pool. To lend credibility to their name, they have a range of bubbly cocktails such as the Kir Impérial with Chambord; the Dolce Vita with Absolut, Triple Sec, lemon and Campari; and the Velvet Swing with Cognac and port, all for R175. For bites they offer four sliders; a chicken-coriander quesadilla; panko-crumbed prawns served with paprika aioli; and fried halloumi with zucchini fingers and sweet chilli mayo.

Pretoria

Baobab Café and Grill, (Menlo Park)
Welcoming décor, an airy outdoor terrace and a formidable cocktail menu make Baobab the perfect post-work sanctuary. In addition to an impressive wine list, the café offers a seemingly endless cocktail menu of mojitos, frozen cocktails, classic cocktails, martinis and dessert cocktails. A highlight is the Strawberry Shortcake, a decadent marriage of Amaretto, Crème de Cacao and vodka blended with fresh strawberries and cream. Those feeling peckish can snack on sushi or order a meat or vegetarian platter for the table.

Capital Craft (Menlo Park)
With a cool, casual vibe and 120+ beers on offer, this restaurant and beer garden is a sure-fire hit with the hipster crowd. Enjoy a selection of local and imported beers and snack on tasty pub grub like crispy fried chicken wings, chilli poppers, sandwiches and burgers.

DK Burger (Waterkloof Ridge)
DK Burger has gone to great lengths to source some of the country’s finest beer, cider and ale, making this busy venue the go-to spot for those with a taste for quality craft beer. Gourmet burgers are the order of the day, but the food menu also offers a generous selection of sides and snacks, including sweet potato chips, chilli poppers, beer-battered onion rings and salads. Grab a little wooden table outside to watch the sun set over Pretoria or settle indoors on colder evenings.

DK Burger. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

DK Burger. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Eastwoods Tavern (Arcadia)
Famous for their festive vibe and irresistible drinks specials, this popular watering hole has become somewhat of a landmark in Pretoria. Come late afternoon, the outdoor tables fill up with students and professionals alike while the three bars stir up colourful cocktails, jugs and shooters at a rapid pace. Enjoy half-price cocktails between 3pm and 8pm or ask your waiter about the current drinks specials and promotions. In addition to grills, pizzas and burgers, the menu offers a wide selection of reasonably priced finger foods like corn dogs, jalapeno poppers, nachos and deep fried halloumi.

Piza e Vino (Waterkloof)
Grab a table outside under the umbrellas and enjoy a great selection of local craft beers and summer cocktails or peruse their impressive wine list. A small variety of refreshing wine cocktails are available by the glass or jug, and include classic sangria, a rose and cucumber chardonnay spritzer, and cherry and basil merlot sangria. Those staying for dinner can enjoy tasty pizzas and pastas prepared using authentic Italian methods.

Piza e Vino. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Piza e Vino. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

TriBeCa Brooklyn Coffee Shop (Brooklyn)
This coffee shop is known for serving up a mean breakfast, but come 5pm the festive space fills up with patrons looking to let off some steam. The popular bar section offers a great selection of cocktails, which are best enjoyed under the shade of the umbrellas on the bustling outdoor terrace.

Durban

The Beach Bar (Durban Point)
This venue at Moyo uShaka offers one of the most beautiful settings in the city. Perched at the end of a pier, waves literally crash at your feet as you sip on carefree cocktails. If the mood prevails, you can order off the platter menu.

Bel Punto (Umdloti Beach)
Settle in for sundowners at the Bel Punto bar where you can choose from cocktails or select a wine off the superb list. The real appeal lies in lounging on the verandah, which has sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. Make sure you book for an early dinner of contemporary Italian fare or delicious seafood.

Bel Punto. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Bel Punto. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Cubaña (Morningside)
Cubaña has serious street cred, as it opens onto vibey Florida Road. Social butterflies can see and be seen and are most likely to be caught clutching post-work or pre-dinner cocktails. The interior becomes more moody as night draws near, at which point patrons can be found tucking into loosely Latin-inspired fare.

The Dutch (Umhlanga Rocks)
The crowd at The Dutch is as cool as the vintage-inspired interior. The front area has large windows that open onto the pavement, where a bouncer monitors the queue. Inspired food can be ordered and nibbled off marble-topped tables. The heart of The Dutch is the bar and intimate stage where you can expect to catch live music – think soul, funk, blues and jazz – every night.

Elements. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Elements. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Elements (Umhlanga Rocks)
Elements café and bar at the Beverly Hills Hotel offers the perfect antidote to a hectic day. Encased in the breezy white interior, guests elegantly sip on classic cocktails or Champagne by the glass. Outside seating rewards with views of the pool, sweeping lawns and ocean. There is a light café menu if you can’t bear to tear yourself away for dinner.

Harry’s Cocktail Bar (Umhlanga Rocks)
Harry’s Bar, sibling of Harvey’s Restaurant, is reminiscent of a modern-day Hemingway-style lair. Offering perhaps the most definitive cocktail selection in Durban (from vintage to modern classics plus some avant garde concoctions), it’s the perfect venue in which to languish over textbook-perfect tipple. The bar menu ranges from West Coast oysters to pulled pork burgers and there are drinks specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Lighthouse Bar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Lighthouse Bar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Lighthouse Bar (Umhlanga Rocks)
The Lighthouse Bar at the super-swanky Oyster Box Hotel attracts stylish locals and intrepid tourists. Overlooking Umhlanga’s iconic lighthouse, hedonists can relish cocktails or an extensive array of premium drinks on the red vinyl-clad seating inside or on the outdoor terrace. The light bar snacks are addictive (we love the cinnamon caramelised nuts); otherwise the cheese platter is sufficient for dinner.

Cape Town

Banana Jam (Kenilworth)
This casual Caribbean-themed restaurant has one of the best selections of rum, craft beer and cocktails in Cape Town, and a fantastic happy hour to boot. Cocktail happy hour runs everyday from 5pm to 6pm and includes specials on signature Banana Jam cocktails like Jamaican Sunrise, Bahama Mama, Caribbean Iced Tea and more. Alternatively, there are around 30 different beers on tap and more than 80 local and international bottled beers. The food menu offers Caribbean-inspired fare ranging from Jamaican jerk chicken to buffalo wing starters and tapas.

Banana Jam. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Banana Jam. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Brass Bell (Kalk Bay)
Locals and tourists flock to this Cape Town landmark to enjoy chilled cocktails, tasty grub and spectacular ocean views. While the establishment has a choice of seven dining venues, it’s the Bikini Deck cocktail bar and Beach at the Bell that offer the best spots for sundowners. The cocktail menu features a selection of classic cocktails, jugs, ‘sober cobra’ cocktails and Brass Bell signature cocktails. A crowd favourite is the Sweet Sex on the Beach jug, a potent medley of vodka, passion fruit, triple sec, fresh orange and a dash of grenadine. Hungry patrons can order starters, seafood, pizzas and grills.

Castella Amare. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Castella Amare. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Castella Amare (Melkbosstrand)
Situated on the beachfront in Melkbosstrand, the recently remodeled Castella Amare is a superb spot for a casual, post-work drink. Find an outdoor table facing the ocean and let the stress of the day wash away with a glass of vino off their extensive wine list or a signature fruity cocktail, like a Long Island iced tea charged with fresh cranberry juice. If the hunger bug bites, the reasonably priced menu features Portuguese-style steak and seafood.

Dunes (Hout Bay)
Summon the troops, grab an outdoor table and sip cocktails as you watch the sun go down. Situated on the beach at the mouth of the Hout Bay River, this popular beach venue is the perfect spot for those looking to wind down after work. The wine list has a bottle for every budget and the cocktail menu features everything from the classic mojito and tequila sunrise to an Olmeca Black margarita. A wide selection of starters, light meals, grills and wood-fired pizzas is available to settle hungry stomachs.

Dunes. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Dunes. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Grand Café & Beach (Granger Bay)
Positioned on a private beach in Granger Bay, this glamorous venue offers fresh seafood, exclusive cocktails and unrivaled views of Table Bay. In this discreet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, guests can sip cocktails on the wooden deck or find a table on the beach and feel the sand between their toes. While a little on the expensive side, the extensive wine list features everything from house wines to Méthode Cap Classique offerings. A sizeable cocktail selection includes unique tipples like a gingerbread martini, grand Caribbean ice tea, French martini and frozen Mexican milkshake. While drinks and food are definitely on the expensive side, the magical view will make it worth your while.

The Leopard Bar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Leopard Bar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Leopard Bar (Camps Bay)
This upscale bar in the luxurious Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay boasts breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. A wide selection of cocktails is on hand, including the classic cosmo and indulgent vanilla chocatini, as is a fine selection of spirits, cognacs and cigars. The food and drinks are quite pricey, so best save this special experience for the beginning of the month.

Lower Deck Bistro at Blue Peter (Bloubergstrand)
Located on the slopes of Little Bay Beach, this popular spot dazzles with mesmerizing views of Table Mountain. While the upstairs restaurant is rather formal, the downstairs bistro and bar offers up a menu of fruity, quirky cocktails – Fun in the Sun and Blackberry Jungle Juice – and a wide selection of pizzas, pub baskets, sandwiches, burgers and combo meals. Grab a table under the umbrellas and enjoy the vibrant ambiance and spectacular views.

Maestro’s on the Beach (Milnerton)
Shake off the working day with a stiff drink and 180-degree views of Table Mountain, Robben Island and the West Coast. Perched on the dunes of Milnerton Beach, this casual beachfront restaurant has it all: a large outdoor terrace, a reasonably priced menu, and an impressive selection of local and imported beers, coolers, shooters and cocktails, which range from the classic cosmopolitan to a cherry-and-mint mojito.

The Grand Café & Beach. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Grand Café & Beach. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

On the Rocks (Bloubergstand)
Perched on the water’s edge along the Bloubergstrand coastline, this restaurant spoils you with views of Table Mountain and Robben Island. Order from a selection of classic cocktails – think tequila sunrises, margaritas, and strawberry daiquiris – or sample their signature ‘On the Rocks’, with fruity liqueurs and a kick of passion fruit. The drinks selection extends to wines, top-notch spirits, beers and coolers.

Rick’s Café Americain (Gardens)
Thanks to their legendary happy hour, first-floor balcony and festive vibe, Rick’s is a firm favourite with the after-work crowd just off Kloof Street. From 3pm to 7pm, enjoy great specials on cocktails, jugs and selected craft beers on tap. The menu offers over 30 different cocktails, featuring everything from Mojito Diablo with El Jimador tequila to their signature (and potent) Park Road ice tea. A selection of tapas, burgers and mezze platters is on offer to combat the effects of the Park Road ice tea.

Rick’s Café Americain. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Rick’s Café Americain. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Rose Bar (Constantia)
This outdoor lounge resembles an enchanted garden, with cushioned loungers, a curtain of trees and views of lush 12-acre lawns. Along with cocktails like the signature Rose Bar mojito and fruity mai tai, the bar serves draught beer, local wines and bubby. The regular DJ line-up and menu of tempting bar snacks like tempura prawns complete the picture.

Shimmy Beach Club (V&A Waterfront)
Cape Town’s most trendy beach club offers an idyllic setting with a pristine faux beach, multiple bars, and plenty of outdoor seating. Sink your toes into the sand and sip on classic Shimmy cocktails like the sorbetto and bubbles, strawberry and ginger mule, and Shimmy mimosa. Share a pizza or choose from a selection of tapas, sushi and dim sum.

Shimmy Beach Club. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Shimmy Beach Club. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Sotano (Mouille Point)
A Mediterranean vibe and uninterrupted views of the Mouille Point lighthouse and Atlantic Ocean make Sotano a favourite with locals and international visitors alike. A menu of cocktails and tapas invites you to sip and snack away the stress of the day. Pop in on a Sunday evening for live music by Cape Town reggae band The Rivertones or settle the dinner debate on a Wednesday night with the popular 2-for-1 lamb burger special.

Tiger’s Milk (Muizenberg)
Located opposite Muizenberg beach, the Harbour House Group’s new addition is causing a stir amongst locals thanks to its casual vibe, craft beer selection and reasonably priced ‘dude food’. In addition to a small selection of classic cocktails, the restaurant offers a great wine list and a number of artisan brews on tap. Tiger’s Milk runs food and drink specials every now and again, so be sure to enquire during your next visit.

Tjing Tjing. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Tjing Tjing. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar (City Bowl)
Perched high up in the heart of the Cape Town CBD, this rooftop bar resembles an eccentric attic, complete with colourful lanterns, bold artwork and a bright pink bar. The unique cocktail and wine list, tapas menu and variety of craft beers makes Tjing Tjing is a favourite after-work haunt. A small deck invites you to watch the sun set over the cityscape. Choose from a selection of short and long cocktails, like the litchi martini, ‘cotton candy’ with candy-floss-infused vodka, and Asian persuasion with Bacardi rum, honey, lime, mint and chilli. The neat tapas menu features items like sticky free-range pork belly skewers; sweet corn and jalapeno fritters; and a cheese and charcuterie board to share.

Winelands

Balboa Balcony Bar (Stellenbosch)
Perched high above animated Andringa Street, this upmarket, intimate bar offers a wide range of cocktails and craft beers. Best enjoyed on the summery deck, all cocktails are made with fresh fruit, not syrup, with refreshing options like the pomegranate and vanilla cosmopolitan. Classic cocktails, like the mojito, margarita and mai thai are also on offer. Complement your tipple with a pizza, nachos, salad or a cheese platter. This bar caters to the older crowd and has a strict no under 23s policy.

Julian’s Café-Bar (Stellenbosch)
Coffee shop by day, vibey cocktail bar by night, Julian’s offers an ample cocktail menu packed with both classic and signature boozy creations. Located at the entrance of Eikestad Mall on bustling Andringa Street, this popular meeting place buzzes with locals. Thursday is especially popular due to the café’s 2-for-1 cocktail special, which runs until late. A selection of wine and premium spirits is also available.

Roca Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Roca Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Kizzy’s Bar at L’ Ermitage (Franschhoek)
Sip estate wines and fruity cocktails while gazing out at the beauty of the Cape Winelands. The hotel’s Kizzy’s Bar offers a small selection of fresh cocktails, Franschhoek wines and premium brand spirits, and will soon introduce the Wine Bites menu. As from the first weekend in March, Franschhoek wines will be expertly paired with items from new Wine Bites menu. The menu is set to include local cheeses from Dalewood Fromage, smoked fish from Three Streams Smokehouse, charcuterie products and exotic mushroom canapés from Nouvelle Mushrooms. This offer will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm until the end of April 2015.

Roca Restaurant (Franschhoek)
Iconic views of the Franschhoek valley and sweeping Dieu Donne Wine Estate make this venue an idyllic spot for an after-work tipple. An extensive wine list features wines from all over the Franschhoek valley, while cocktail fans will be pleased with a selection of classics and unique signature cocktails. A highlight is the Roca Crush, a blend of premium brand vodka, lime juice, kiwi extract, apple and ginger beer. Nibble on Mediterranean tapas like broccoli florettes with almonds and blue cheese velouté; duck spring rolls; and vegetable crisps.

Please tell us about your favourite after-work drinks spot in the comments section below.

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