The Art of Duplicity: A Secret Bar in the East City

The Art of Duplicity: A Secret Bar in the East City

Tucked away in a former warehouse at the back of an 1894 storefront, this roaring speakeasy beckons.

An ex-Miss South Africa exits an unmarked door when we arrive at the secret location (we’re not at liberty to mention names, it’s a secret bar, after all).

Acknowledged by a furtive-looking doorman, he takes us through the unmarked door and down a dimly lit passageway (don’t be deterred by the random toilet) that eventually leads to another door, this one marked “No Entry”. Said doorman knocks. A sleuth opens. A man dressed in steampunk attire answers, requesting a password. We’re in… transported to 1920.

The space

The converted 1894 warehouse takes its cue from the prohibition Twenties, an era during which illegal establishments thrived on high society’s debaucherous lifestyles. An underground bunker in every sense of the word, cotton sacks stacked to the double-volume ceiling are illuminated by amber lighting. The roof-high bar is the focal point of the space, showcasing rare liquors and oddities. Heaps of shelled peanuts perch atop every surface, their casings on the floor (this is the etiquette here).

Guests dressed like Mae West and Al Capone (dress code optional) anticipate the evening’s festivities in private huddles. Born from the idea that no-one should ever be without a seat at a bar, or without waitstaff that attend to your every whim, this speakeasy only books as many people as there are seats, ensuring a decadent and luxurious experience for connoisseurs.

The refreshments

The Art of Duplicity

Mixology god Brent Perremore is behind some of the best cocktail menus in Cape Town (having been involved in crafting most of them) and has upped the ante at The Art of Duplicity, with a literal gold cocktail menu that has as much substance as it has style. Drinks are extravagantly presented, such as the Paper Tiger which is wrapped in paper from a vintage book, and the Dark Art which consists of a massive ice block encompassed by a crystal glass that’s served alongside a brown bottle marked as “poison” (which you then pour over the ice block, and savour).

Alas, the best does come at a price. Cocktails range between R120 and R160.

Order the charcuterie and cheese platter. It’s divine.

The entertainment

Art of Duplicity Bar

On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9.30pm sharp live jazz start playing. The acoustics are unexpectedly incredible for a bunker, owing to sound design that elevates every note to pitch-perfect calibre.