South Africa is sports mad, to update an old joke. How do you know that South Africa won the Rugby World Cup? A South African will tell you, and another one will remind you and you can expect to hear this for the next four years. So finding a sports bar in Cape Town, will not be much of a challenge. Of course there is run of the mill bars that play sports on TV and there is sport bars which offer so much more than beer and sports. Kong is decidedly in the later camp, sure you can watch sports here, and you can even play pool, but if sport is not you bag, you simply head up to the upstairs lounge or lush roof deck for some serious cocktail time.
The kitchen serves up posh gastro grub which is an unusual mix of Oriental, African and Continental flavours. This hybrid menu approach extends to the delightfully tongue in cheek decor, a kind of Afro Kitsch meets 1930s B-movie mash up that would excite any Wes Anderson fan in your party. From python print sofas to Sci-Fi Afro queens and tin crocodiles the atmosphere is designed to lift the spirit of even most sorest of losers. On weekends there is DJs and dancing till the wee hours. Making this multi room bar the perfect option for both sports fans and non sports fans alike. You might come here for the game, but you'll stay for the vibe.
There is something poetically anarchic about a good old fashioned dive bar. From Bukowski to Hemingway writers have always waxed lyrical about non pretentious dinking dens where all that matters is the liquor and the company. With a knowing nod to the Pixies, Surfa Rosa is an eclectic smorgasbord, a little bit of punk, a little bit of tropical, some surf rock and whole lot of Rage Against the Machine’s iconic track. Think cold beer, rowdy regulars and of course given the name, great foot stomping music all night long. It’s a local’s bar, where the locals come from all walks of life, who are not only laid back and real, they’re genuinely welcoming to strangers.
Even though it is situated in Cape Town’s so called “design district” the East Precinct, the clientele, a mix of creatives, musos, surfers and locals, are definitely more in the come as you are and let off some steam variety. They often have DJs and live music, so if it all gets a little too cosy inside, the bar opens to an outdoor terrace which is slightly more chilled. They also serve the most easiest to eat bar food, pizza. Feel fee to add as much chilli and pineapple as you want. Trust me, no-one here cares what you put on a pizza.
The Orphanage Cocktail Emporium as the name suggests harks back to more sophisticated times, where the perfectly crafted cocktail was an art form. Taking its inspiration from stylish speakeasies from the prohibition era, it exudes a sophisticated if somewhat insalubrious charm. With quirky decor and anachronistic touches its atmosphere is somewhere between a victorian parlour and a New York Cotton Club, creating an other worldly feel that bizarrely works as the perfect nightscape escape.
Its cocktail menu extends that eccentric theme, you could follow up a Benedict Cucumber Patch with a More Tea Vicar or treat yourself to a Bullet to the Head before ending the night with a Crematorium. It is the kind of place where you could see Sherlock Holmes conspiring with Al Capone and Danny De Vito and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. The bar staff are a cool, characterful and friendly bunch, it has a great supporting food menu and a wonderful people watching terrace for those balmy Cape Town summer nights.
“I don't have a drinking problem, 'cept when I can't get a drink." —Tom Waits
Cape Town is known as the tavern of the seas, supposedly because it was believed to be the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Another more plausible explanation is that back in the day Cape Town was one of the first pit stops for European trading ships heading to the East. It’s a long sail from Lisbon or Amsterdam and sailors are a thirsty bunch. As far back as 1659 the first wine was made in Cape Town, so you can bet your bottom bottle than drinking establishments followed soon after. While you can still find the odd sailor bar in Cape Town, the bar industry in Cape Town has mushroomed and you can find everything from dive bars to cocktail emporiums, and from DIY shebeens, makeshift informal bars generally found in the townships, to upmarket wine bars. You spoiled for choice in Cape Town and you guaranteed to find something to wet your own particular whistle, either a walk or a short Uber drive away. This week we have selected three very different drinking establishments that we suggest you try in Cape Town. They all have their own unique charms and are all perfect for leisurely whiling away an evening or two.