South Africa’s third alcohol ban may have forced many restaurants and pubs to temporarily close, but there are some restaurants that have adapted to stay afloat, offering refreshing, unique non-alcoholic drinks to beat the liquor restrictions and the heat, while keeping the mood upbeat. We tracked down a few restaurants and bars offering the most unique mocktails and alcohol-free beverages in Joburg and Pretoria.
Launched last year as Jozi’s first non-alcoholic community bar to support out-of-work mixologists during the lockdown, Niks bar has since become a hip spot for safe socialising with great music, food and non-alcoholic drinks. While they have relocated to the Mix Cocktail Bar at the MESH Club, they still offer their entire range of non-alcoholic drinks, including draught lager, cider, cocktails, sparkling wine, gin and spirits. For the current alcohol ban, they have also introduced interesting new drinks such as the Cederberg Highball (Martini 0.0, jazz kombucha and grapefruit zest) and the Garden Martini (an espresso shot, caramel syrup, whey and chocolate dust with a shot of Cedars Wild). Note that reservations are required.
As award-winning chef Chantel Dartnall continues to wow diners with her impressive French-inspired seasonal menus at Restaurant Mosaic, patrons can now enjoy a host of stimulating non-alcoholic drinks to go with various courses. Some of these include the micro herb mocktail, fennel and apple cooler, berry and passionfruit cooler, orchard and geranium cooler, spiced pear toddy, and lemon verbena and basil elixir, as well as a range of unique herbal teas such as the gyokuro shaded green tea, white sky tea and lychee sunflower black tea. Note that reservations are applicable.
Known for their cheekily named cocktails, as much as for their Middle Eastern-inspired small plates and great street views from their first-floor balcony, this Parkwood Mansions restaurant has had to reinvent their offering to stay relevant during the ongoing alcohol ban. Their vibrant mocktails menu perfectly complements the eclectic food and bar snacks, offering patrons reason enough to linger on while socially distancing. With all mocktails priced at R35, there is good opportunity to mix drinks and stay sober as well! Some of the more intriguing mocktails include the New York Sour (Assam tea leaves, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg white and pomegranate juice), the Sidecar (lapsang souchong tea, lemon juice, marmalade, honey and dehydrated orange), the negroni (white grape juice, negroni syrup, cardamom pods and coriander seeds) and the Espresso Julep (mint, cold espresso, syrup and lavender CBD bitters).
This Vietnamese restaurant, which is famous for its Asian BBQ, karaoke and hip Asian-inspired décor, has launched an Asian-inspired mocktail menu to beat the alcohol ban blues. With names as interesting as their ingredients and perfect for hot, summer days or humid evenings, these mocktails are a must-try: Hanoi Hannah (yuzu, pineapple and vanilla frozen slushy), Cherry Blossom (cherry sour and cranberry frozen slushy), Pisto Colada (coconut, pandan, litchi and lime frozen slushy), Mango Margarita (mango, lime, chilli and pineapple slushy) and Mojito Ginger (ginger beer, coconut, coriander, mint, lime).
This family-owned Korean restaurant is as popular for its grills, homemade tofu, kimchi and exotic teas as it is for wines and spirits that are imported from South Korea. And they have introduced new non-alcoholic drinks to beat the ongoing liquor ban. Some of Banchan’s signature in-house mocktails include yuja ade (similar to lemonade but served as citrus-flavoured tea), meshil ade (a Korean plum concentrate served as a flavoured tea or mixed with a carbonated soda) and sujeonggwa (a traditional Korean tea with cinnamon and ginger, sweetened with treacle sugar, that can be served hot or cold). Other Korean drinks that have been introduced during this lockdown include milkis (a carbonated milk and yoghurt-flavoured drink), sikhe (traditional Korean fermented rice punch), coolpis (fermented fruit juice), bongbong (Korean grape juice) and pear juice.
Blos Café, which doubles up as an events and conference venue, is known for its vast small plates menu, featuring several healthy and vegan options. While the café boasts a comprehensive drinks menu, during the ongoing alcohol ban, its mocktails such as the strawberry and basil spritzer (strawberry, lemon, basil and soda), rosewater cocktail (sprite, grenadine and bitters), rock shandy (soda, bitters and lemonade), and Steelworks (soda, ginger ale, kola tonic and bitters) have no doubt gained renewed interest among patrons. Their specialty lattes (gingerbread, chai, honey-nut and red cappuccino) are also a hit, as are their various homemade teas, veggie juices, smoothies, milkshakes and non-alcoholic beers.
Offering spectacular sunset views of the Johannesburg skyline and cityscape, which are best enjoyed while nursing a heady cocktail, Flames is now offering a unique mocktail menu to go with their impressive brunch, lunch and dinner spread. Some of the must-try drinks include Sweet Nothing (sugar snap pea, basil, anise and citrus alt), Marmelada Pine (marmalade, pineapple juice, lemon and lemonade), Level 3 (blueberry, lime and lemonade) and Very Berry Tea (redberry brew, elderflower syrup and lime).
Known for their eclectic mix of Asian-inspired dishes, including dim sum, smoked trout steamed buns and ramen bowls, as well as the recently launched small meals for kids, The Great Eastern Food Bar also has an exotic non-alcoholic drinks menu featuring homemade cordials in flavours such as lime and coriander, ginger and lemongrass, and granadilla, honeysuckle and lime. They also offer drinking vinegars available in green apple and mint, pomegranate, mixed berry, grape and mint, and calamansi and ginger flavours.