The Best Bars in Cape Town

The Best Bars in Cape Town

The House of Machines

When it comes to watering holes, there’s no shortage of them in the Mother City. These are our favourites…

From speakeasy-style dives and boisterous pubs to swanky hotel lounges and rooftop gardens, we’ve rounded up the coolest bars in and around the Mother City.

1. The House of Machines

House of Machines
For top-drawer beer, bourbon and Bottld cocktails, look no further than this motorbike-workshop-slash-men’s-clothing-store. It also happens to serve mighty fine coffee, too. Chill with an ale in the outdoor area on Shortmarket Street, without ever spotting a tourist.
We love the authentic biker vibe (it’s what every hipster aspires to).
Opening times Monday, 7am – 4pm
Tuesday – Friday, 7am – late
Saturday, 9am – late
Sunday, 9am – 2pm (first Sundays only)
Contact 021 426 1400, workshop@thehouseofmachines.com
Location 84 Shortmarket Street, CBD

2. Arcade

Arcade Cafe
This hip, new(ish) Bree Street bar serves café-style food as well as booze, and stays open late – making it the go-to place before (or after) a big night.
We love the sidewalk scene – it’s usually very busy, so crowds often spill out onto the pavement.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 11:30am – late
Contact 060 861 0511, hello@arcadecafe.co.za
Location 152 Bree Street, cnr Pepper Street

3. Brewers Co-op

Brewers Co-op Woodstock
As its name suggests, this bar is a collaboration between brewers (14 to be exact), who are passionate about their craft, and their craft beers, many of which are made from scratch using freshly picked ingredients.
We love that there are around 16 beers on tap at affordable prices.
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 4:30pm – 9pm
Friday, 4:30pm – 10pm
Saturday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact woodstockcoopbrewery@gmail.com
Location 135 Albert Rd

4. Bascule Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar

Bascule Bar
Image credit: Forbes

Situated at the five-star Cape Grace hotel with a view of the Waterfront’s yacht basin, the classy bascule bar could pass for a luxury yacht experience in itself. And with a selection of over 500 whiskies and fine wines available, it’s a connoisseur’s paradise.
We love the one-hour whisky tasting experience (Saturdays to Thursdays at 6pm). Guests get to sample premium malts from the Bascule collection, which is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 12am
Contact 021 410 7100, bascule@capegrace.com
Location Cape Grace Hotel, West Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

5. The Power and the Glory

The Power and the Glory
Image credit: lukeandlatisha.com

Welcome to hipster central. This bistro on Kloofnek serves tasty grub, and its attached bar, The Black Ram, opens at 5pm and stays open till late.
We love the German hot dogs, washed down with some of the best craft beer in town.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm
Contact 021 422 2108
Location 13 B Kloof Nek Rd

6. Outrage of Modesty

Outrage of Modesty
Featured in our hottest new openings in Cape Town, this place takes mixology (the science of blending cocktails) to the next level. Accessed via a narrow staircase with no signage in sight, it could be easily missed, but should you venture down this rabbit hole, you’ll be instantly transported. Seating is limited, so reserve a seat ahead of time.
We love the impeccable presentation and exotic names, such as Fallen Fruit, Milk and Honey and Salty Dog.
Insider Tip Head Barman, Luke “Wookie” Whearty from Operation Dagger in Singapore, is launching a brand-new Winter Menu on the 1 June 2016. Guests can sample it with a five-course tasting menu prepared and presented by the man himself.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 1am
Contact 021 422 2902, reservations@anoutrage.com
Location 88 Shortmarket Street, CBD

7. The Grand Daddy Hotel Sky Bar

Grand Daddy Skybar
Image credit: journeyinstyle.co.za

A slick rooftop bar atop the quaint Grand Daddy Hotel, where you can enjoy champagne and cocktails while gazing out upon the Cape Town city skyline. On cloudy or windy days, call ahead to ensure it’s open.
We love the rooftop trailer park, made up of seven vintage airstream trailers (shipped all the way from the United States) that double as hotel rooms, each with its own individual theme and decor to match.
Opening times Wednesday – Saturday, 4pm – 8:30pm (winter)
Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 8:30pm (summer)
Contact 021 424 7247, info@granddaddy.co.za
Location 38 Long Street

8. Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar

Mother's Ruin Gin Bar
Image credit: capetownmylove.com

Rule Britannia, and all that. This hidden gem specialises in gin, serving over 75 varieties that can be paired with various tonics, and enjoyed in the comfort of the lounge bar. Read our full review of Mother’s Ruin.
We love the impressive selection of cocktails that includes G&Ts (naturally) and more adventurous alternatives such as the Dirty Sanchez with red vermouth, bitters and cherry liquor.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 4pm – 1am
Contact  082 681 6601, mothersruincapetown@gmail.com
Location 219 Bree Street

9. Door 221

Door 221
Yet another addition to Bree Street’s thriving afterdark scene! This new dive bar sets itself apart with its minimalist decor and impressive selection of tacos.
We love The trinchado fries – crispy French fries covered in spicy prego sauce that elevate the age-old side-order to a a whole new level. Arriba!
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 2am
Contact 082 903 2424, Door221bar@gmail.com
Location 221 Bree Street

10. Village Idiot Restaurant and Bar

The Village Idiot
Image credit: oflocal.co.za

A classic pub with pool tables, a large projector for screening sports events and even a fireplace to keep things warm in winter. The bar’s mascot is not an idiot, but rather an ostrich that stands atop the counter, keeping a beady eye on the bartenders at work. (The ostrich isn’t real, of course, not until you’ve had enough drinks…)
We love the South African-flavoured pub fare, including boerewors burgers, braai boards and peri-peri chicken.
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 3pm – 2am
Friday – Saturday, 12pm – 2am
Sunday. 12pm – 8pm
Contact 021 418 1548, info@thevillageidiot.co.za
Location 32 Loop Street

11. Lefty’s Dive Bar

Lefty's Dive Bar
A rustic boozer with lorry loads of character. The dark and smoky interior may not be for everyone, but the authentic hole-in-the-wall feel could be exactly what you’re looking for if you feel like something off the beaten path.
We love the ribs, widely known as the best in town.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 4pm – 1am
Contact 021 461 0407, Info@leftys.co.za
Location 105 Harrington Street

We also rate…

The Beerhouse
The Devil’s Peak Taproom 
Weinhaus + Biergarten
DropKick Murphy
Mzoli’s
Piano Bar
The Orphanage
The Foreign Exchange Bar
The Waiting Room
Alexander Café Bar and Theatre
Planet Bar
The Crypt Jazz
Asoka
Blah Blah Bar

If cocktails are your thing, check out Our Best Sundowner Spots in Cape Town.

Love a rooftop bar? Check out Our Best Rooftop Bars in Cape Town.

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 19 May 2016

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