A great source of Cape Town’s pride is its wine. Which is why enticing you away from it might seem like sacrilege.
But we don’t only need to rely upon the Cape Winelands to alleviate our end-of-the-week frustrations or get the party started. The Mother City offers an abundance of beverages that’ll give you the same satisfaction that a glass of Pinot Noir will, if not more so. Here are five alternatives to wine that you should give a go.
Let’s start with good ol’ gin, a drink that’s also brought recognition to our fine city. Gins crafted in the Western Cape include Inverroche, Hope on Hopkins and Jenever Montane. Added to that, gin can be enjoyed in numerous ways – and in numerous places. But it’s probably the CBD’s Gin Bar that will offer you the most exciting and varied adventure in tasting this spirit. Accessible only through Honest Chocolate Bar on Wale Street, The Gin Bar has the feel of a speakeasy. Once you’re inside, however, you’ll feel as though you’re in gin heaven. It’s the perfect place to experience gin in various forms and if you don’t believe us, then read about our visit to this extraordinary place.
Another versatile spirit, whiskey is a great choice for an after-work tipple. And if you’re fussy about which kind you prefer, then the best place to go for complete whiskey-fuelled satisfaction is Hank’s Olde Irish. Now, don’t be deterred by the name if you’re more into Scotch or Bourbon. Hank’s might be reminiscent of your traditional Irish pub but it offers a plethora of international whiskey brands. You’ll find Irish whiskey, Single Malt and Blended Scotch whisky (note the difference in spelling – it’s important), Bourbon, and even Japanese and Taiwanese whisky. If you don’t already have a favourite, you’re bound to after a visit or two to Hank’s Olde Irish.
Wine’s great before and during dinner, but it might be nice to do something different and postpone your alcoholic treat until after the meal. Brandy, being perhaps the ultimate after-dinner drink, is the way to go. Drinking it is a slow, meditative experience, one that can accompany good conversation with great friends. (It’s also particularly effective in aiding a chest cold.) And with KWV making us proud late last year, plus a few brandy routes to look out for, the Western Cape is no doubt a haven for Brandy drinkers. One notable place for learning more about this drink is Van Ryn’s Distillery, producer of what has been voted the best Brandy in the world on multiple occasions at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. The distillery offers tours, tastings and food pairings, all of which will give you a better view as to how best this acquired taste should be enjoyed.
4 Cocktails – and ‘mocktails’
Colourful and festive, a cocktail is never a bad idea. And yes, you can find anything from the simplest Martini to the craziest Pina Colada at most places in Cape Town. But there’s one cocktail bar that’s so choc-a-bloc full of inventive and varied drinks that it’s founders couldn’t just call it a ‘bar’. We’re talking about Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, of course! Here you can expect concoctions with interesting names such as ‘Duchess of Passion’ and ‘More Tea Vicar?’ There are two variations on the classic Martini as well. If, however, you feel like abstaining for the evening, the array of ‘mocktails’ on the menu will keep your thirst at bay.
You didn’t think we’d forget about beer, did you? It is, after all, another beverage that’s giving our local brewers some much-needed exposure. And there’s one brewery, relatively central to Cape Town, that’s a restaurant, a bar and a philosophical experience rolled into one. The Devil’s Peak Brewing Company has established itself as one of the foremost producers of craft beer in South Africa and, aside from their four ‘year-round’ beers, they have a mesmerising ‘Explorer Series’ of six uniquely flavoured beers and two limited, barrel-aged ‘Speciality Series’ beverages, one of which is a wine-beer hybrid. Wow!
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