You might have heard about Outrage of Modesty already. Perhaps you read the review in the Weekend Argus or on Andy Fenner’s blog. You’ve probably heard about its clandestine entrance next to the House of Machines (its sister venue), that it can accommodate only 27 people, or that the cocktail menu doesn’t list which spirits are in each concoction.

The stories you hear about this quirky bar – which looks more like an old chemistry lab cum kitchen – and its photo-mural of a tattooed Jackie and John F. Kennedy are true. So are the stories about the exorbitant price tags that come with its beverages, and the secret password you need to present to the suited man with a clipboard at the door when you arrive.


An eclectic mix of décor sets the mood for molecular mixology

Once your identity has been verified, you’re led up some beat-up stairs, through an Oriental-style sliding door and seated at your table. A hefty wooden drinks menu is placed in front of you as glasses of water are filled up next to you. Once your order is taken, a palate cleanser follows, served on a piece of slate – dainty cubes of watermelon soaked in rooibos and vermouth and topped with buchu.

And then the drinks. First came Berry and the Bee – a gin-based blackberry and honey concoction served tall with a glass straw. Then there was their homemade ‘shampanje’ served in a small bottle, tasting not unlike fermented orange juice – in a good way. The crown jewels of the evening had to be Icy Hot and Choccoberry Pinotage (but don’t let the name put you off). The first was served in a rounded cappuccino glass and came in two layers – a cold, tart apple-y tequila-laced liquid topped with a warm creamy froth of coconut and white chocolate. The Pinotage was served chilled in a roomy wine glass, and tasted like a cherry liqueur chocolate in liquid, vinous form – but with none of the sickly sweetness.


Come here for calm, cool, and to escape the rabble

This is a place to come if you enjoy good music, and if you’re incredibly picky (like me) about cocktails. It’s a place to come if the thought of an excess of sugar syrup and crushed ice in your drink sets your teeth on edge. It’s a place for people who sometimes dislike being surrounded by too many other humans. The mirror on the ceiling of the toilet is also a fun touch.

Perhaps the only things that weren’t cool about this bar were, ironically, the frosty temperature and the tap behind the bar that – whether for effect or from negligence – was constantly left on (dudes, surely you know we’re in the middle of a water crisis?). But this odd little spot is definitely worth a visit if an adventure in mixology is what you’re after. A selection of wines and beer is also available.


The bar is strict about letting no more than 27 people in at a time. If you want a place, then it’s best to book (by e-mail only). Although on the particular Wednesday evening I visited the bar, there were no more than 10 guests – if you’re in the CBD mid-week you might get lucky if you just turn up.

When Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm – 1 am
Where 88 Shortmarket Street, CBD
Cost Priced on menu
Contact +27 21 422 2902, [email protected],

Photography courtesy Caroline Knight and Outrage of Modesty 

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