When Brad Armitage of Alliance Brands (which brought us The House of Machines, located downstairs) opened this under-the-radar bar in December 2015, his aim was to bring the cutting-edge mixology scene to the Mother City, which he did, in his signature understated-cool way. He partnered with New York-born mixologist Greg Seider and sous barman Marius Botha to bring locals a cocktail bar that bends the rules.
Greg, who pioneered the mixology scene in New York, made his mark by challenging the traditional boundaries between the bar and kitchen. You won’t find cloying cosmos or Kir Royals here; instead you’ll be presented with a considered menu of carefully curated cocktails, inspired by hand-blended teas and spices, made with upscale ingredients, seasonal fresh herbs and seasonings from around the world.
The secret scene
Sneakily disguised next to The House of Machines, an unobtrusive door with “Cocktail Bar” overhead takes you to up two flights of stairs to the bar. Once an old frame theatre, the space now boasts cool yet unobtrusive Scandi-Japanese decor. At the time of opening, a giant mural of the Kennedys (by mixed-media artist Indian Giver) presided over the seating area (and required a double take before realising that Jackie O’s arms and JFK’s knuckles were covered in tattoos). These days, there’s a sketch painting of Nobuyoshi Araki on set (in a bathtub, no less) at one of his shoots.
You can see the actual picture on the first page of the menu. “It’s all about the experience”, says Greg, who is excited about plans to introduce provocative street art that ties in with the inspiration behind the 2017 menu…
The Most Outageous menu yet
The Winter 2017 menu is inspired by contemporary, Tokyo-born photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, who has spent a lifetime existing in the void between taboo and art within Japanese society. At age 76, he is one of the most controversial working photographers around, and the only man to have tied up Lady Gaga (publicly). The outlandish menu, inspired by elements of Nobuyoshi’s notorious artistry, offers eight brilliantly balanced cocktails. You can read the story behind each in the booklet-menu, which showcases a bunch of the photographer’s works. In the background, an eclectic music mix sets the scene as patrons are encouraged to pass around a music book, helping curate the vibe.
Oh, and if you have mixologist tendencies, you’ll be happy to know that Greg invites patrons to the bar to “make their own”. It’s good fun.
GREG’s HIDDEN GEMS
While sampling the new menu, we were curious to know what this New Yorker-turned-Capetonian’s favourite secret spots are.
• Openwine, Wale Street
“Marta, the owner, is firm Italian. She has that excited, enthusiastic Italian hospitality vibe, amazing wines, and will gladly open any bottle as long as you have two glasses. She also has a brick oven, serving an amazing five-item menu that changes daily.”
• High Constantia Wine Cellar, Groot Constantia Road
“A tiny boutique wine cellar, and all their red varietal expressions are amazing. You walk through the fermentation tank room to the outside seating area, where you feel like you’re sitting on your own back porch sipping epic wines.”
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – late
Contact 021 422 2902, email@example.com
Where to find it Outrage of Modesty, 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town