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 introduce the cutting-edge mixology to Capetonians. Which he did, in his signature understated-cool way, giving locals a rule-bending, mould-breaking speakeasy-style joint (and, at the same time, spearheading the mixology movement in the Mother City).
You won’t find cloying cosmos or Kir Royals here; instead you’ll be presented with a considered menu of carefully crafted 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, this off-the-radar space now boasts cool yet unobtrusive Scandi-Jap decor, with theatre-like tiered seating (for 28 guests) providing a birds’ eye view of the bar.
The wall art adds another layer to the overall sensory experience. When the bar opened two years ago, a giant mural of the Kennedys 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, an oversized fuchsia X decks the wall.
2018/19 MENU: SECTION 354
Each season OoM welcomes an international bartender to infuse some new flavours, aromas, herbs and spices into the menu. In October 2017, Singapore-based Noreen Dunzo joined the close-knit team, bringing 15 innovative Asian-flecked cocktails to the table, with a local twist. Her most recent menu – Section 354 (named after the penal code for women abuse in Singapore) – not only tastes delicious, it’s also very topical (#MeToo), highlighting the issue, while also encouraging responsible drinking. The bar also supports and raises awareness for Basila in Manenberg, a home that supports abused women.
Every cocktail uses local alcohol brands, and is created with an Asian-inspired twist on South African ingredients. For a Thai-style Bloody Mary, the Tom Yum Spicy/Sour Thai (with fresh cherry tomatoes, lemongrass, lime leaf powder, red chili, and Hope on Hopkins vodka) is almost too hot to handle!
For a refreshing, fruity tipple opt for either the Gin-Ji-Jo (house-infused spiced Copeland white rum, cinnamon, all-spice berries, peppercorns, nutmeg and fresh ginger), or the Pina-Ta (pineapple-infused Hope on Hopkins agave, fresh pineapple, lime, green chilli and homemade cinnamon syrup).
My favourite is the Rooibos Lit, made with Rooibos-infused Hope on Hopkins dry gin, fresh lemon and homemade rosemary syrup. Delicious! And, If you have a sweet tooth, end the evening off with the Créme Bruleé (homemade caramel-infused Hope on Hopkins small batch vodka, egg yolks and a burnt-sugar crisp), or the acclaimed Dunzo Dessert (homemade limoncello – Hope on Hopkins small batch vodka – coconut meringue foam and toasted coconut flakes), sure to transport you straight to a tropical beach in Phuket.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 1am