The Union Pop-Up Bar’s incarnations improve each time. It seemed it couldn’t get much better than the rooftop in Benmore – all gin, floral fruits and light. This time, Union has gone down below into a basement in Illovo, which is darker and spicier for cooler weather, and the extraordinary producer being showcased is Black Bottle blended Scotch.
The idea behind the Union concept is always about the “freshest ingredients, best brands, unique settings”. Appropriately, the new venue is dramatically clubby, with black leather, gold satin and the smoothest of vibes, be they music or conversation. No under 21s, though: this is a world of more sophisticated wonder, “something beyond the obvious”.
Joshua Shifren and Justin Kramer, the creative brains behind the here-today- gone-tomorrow Union Pop-Up Bar, are wonderfully quotable: “It’s as we like it – keeps us on our toes and keeps the menu fresh and relevant and a surprise, even to us!”
Speaking of the menu, this one includes a brace of more than ten whisky-sour cocktails. They’re molecular-gastronomy mixology marvels, like the Bitter Black Jar that contains Black Bottle whisky, elderflower syrup, freshly squeezed orange and a dash of Toscello orange-and-lemongrass bitters. The cocktail interpretation of The Little Black Dress involves Black Bottle whisky, some mint-infused Aperol, orange juice, sparkling wine, tropical tea smoke, and Toscello orange-and-lemongrass bitters.
If you’re keen on plated gastronomy too, there’s a system for ordering from a neighbouring Italian restaurant.
Find the new Union Pop-Up Bar at 18 Chaplin Avenue, Illovo, through the Norman Goodfellows dispatch warehouse. You can book online at http://theunionbar.co.za. It’s only open in this guise until 11 June 2016, from Thursday through Saturdays. (Wednesdays are reserved for private events.) Upcoming events include Caige Train this Friday 15 April: Alex Caige’s tantalising beats with complimentary cocktails from 6.30pm. On Saturday 16 April, say Farewell to Summer and hello to more chilled vibes and DJ Delicious from 8pm.