7 unique new cocktail bars on our radar

Looking for somewhere different to whet your whistle? We’ve got you covered!

Talking to Strangers (CBD, Cape Town)
Launching end March, this is an enormously exciting new entry on the national drinks circuit, giving you good reason to swing by Loop Street. Located in a heritage building, it has wonderful local appeal, and includes both intimate sofa seating and amiable high tables. However, the bar will be the star of the show, as you’ll get to see some of the country’s finest mixos doing their thing, including owner Nicholas Crouse and bar manager Leighton Rathbone.

Strange Love (Salt River, Cape Town)
While many distilleries offer tastings, Hope – pioneers in SA’s micro-distilling game – have created a full-on cocktail bar at their liquor factory. As if sipping cocktails in situ wasn’t enough, owners Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk offer another innovation with their three-course menu. Here, bartender Derrick Hartman has conceptualised starter, main and dessert tipples for a comprehensive drinks experience. Plus, each come with a snack!


Upper Union (Gardens, Cape Town)
The latest addition to the MORE Family Collection, Upper Union is a simply magnificent new resto bar. The downstairs includes umbrella-covered front garden seating and a magical mosaicked side porch, while upstairs there’s a comfortable lounge area, private dining room and breezy balcony. The drinks list was put together by the brilliant Just Short team, and won’t disappoint.


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The Queen’s (Waterfront District, Cape Town)
This semi-private lounge adds something totally different to the national drinks scene, in that it’s invite only. Note, we didn’t say “members only”, as The Queen’s isn’t technically a members club. Rather, here friends of the Single & Single whisky brand – and their guests – are free to enjoy the elegant facilities. To get a look behind the curtain, you’ll need to prove yourself worthy of appreciating the unique offerings within, which include an impressive collection of interesting and unusual spirits.


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Cause Effect Vineyard (Stellenbosch)
Fans of Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen – whose flagship V&A venue is ranked 53 in the World’s 50 Best Bars – will be delighted to learn there’s a third bar in the mix. Set on Morgenhof Wine Estate, this latest shop showcases the “vineyard” aspect of the brand’s four pillars, which also include ocean, mountain and fynbos. Visionary Kurt Schlechter has pulled out all the stops to make this destination bar worthy of its spectacular surrounds, including a specialised drinks list and a small still for experimental distillates.

Benchwarmers (Rosebank, Joburg)
Up in Jozi, the team behind Smoking Kills (headed up by Peter Good) has created something fun and different with Benchwarmers. Yes, you can watch sports, but the bar has specifically been designed to facilitate social interaction, with free-flowing inside and outside spaces made possible with top-hung windows, amplified by its corner location. Get a beer, smash a burger and catch the game, or join the very chilled running club to get in your steps while you make new friends.

Conchilla (Ballito, Durban)
Durbs, we haven’t forgotten you! In the beach paradise of Ballito, you can end your days of endless sun at Conchilla, a seafront venue where tapas are the catch of the day. This “little shell” keeps the party going, with Ladies Night on Thursdays and Salsa Sundays once a month.


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