Whether the Aperitivo hour has begun or not, I continue my journey for the tastiest cocktail (or other drink, if they’re tempting enough) in whatever Cape neighbourhood I find myself in.
First to bat: GINJA Restaurant
Waterfront | On the Waterfront Pierhead, Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
This hotel’s eatery, named GINJA, isn’t loud about offering one of the most pleasant setups for the food and bevvy hoards, surprisingly.
They cultivate quite the air of accessible elegance and, deliver a really laidback experience involving cushy seating, affable ambience, and an unencumbered perspective spanning the luxury Marina to the functional boat dock and the lighthouse.
They also have a majestic view of the famed World Wonder: Table Mountain.
Their drinks menu is curated to offer the best of local – from craft beers right through to the “G” part of your next great Gin & Tonic.
I say that repeated visits are required to properly savour the unique and refreshing wine list, which is designed by palate weight – comprised of a combination of known wine producers and an education on the lesser famed ones.
Take a trip from the coastal Wellington or Swartland wine producers, to the Karoo and their Calitzdorp or Klein Karoo estates.
South Africa is often far more celebrated for its full-bodied red wines, but I do tend to recommend light-to-medium white wines like IONA Sauvignon Blanc (of the Elgin Valley) at R280 a bottle, or the Jordan ‘The Real Deal’ Riesling (Stellenbosch) for R275.
While a fan of cocktails myself, I truly think their gin choices, set to the Waterfront view, is what’s not to be missed though...unless you’re booking into their Victoria & Alfred Hotel.
Second to the table: Gigi Rooftop
The Central Business District | 118 St Georges Mall, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000
While the service and treatment of People of Colour (POCs) at this establishment, leaves much to be desired on the sporadic occasions I’ve visited, they do know how to chill good bubbly and there’s one rather grand cocktail I’d go back for: their signature Gigi Club cocktail.
R90 gets you a frothy glass full of quite delightful creativity mixed together – Tanqueray No.10 & Cinzano Dry, Hibiscus, raspberry & lemon.
Now, the stunning Gorgeous George hotel this rooftop bar calls home, is decorated in a heady mix of urban industrial and 18th-century sensibilities marrying well. Though most of the spaces in the building seem quite contained, there’s no less revelry and visitors ready to unwind (or seriously meet over iced coffees and Mac books).
While I’ve yet to properly review the hospitality through a stay, the restaurant – open to the public – makes an intoxicating impression at each walk-in visit.
Come for the quintessential rooftop experience popularized by Instagram and cosmopolitan TV shows. Stay for the drinks menu lineup, complete with known and hard-to-find beer (like Naked Mexican Cerveza Bottle) and Spirits by their origin (e.g: Japanese, Irish, and American whisky).
Also included are the likes of Grappa, some Rum I’m definitely returning to try, and top-shelf imported tequilas (think George Clooney’s Casamigos Blanco).
And remember: They have signature drink designs AND events too!
Third on the line-up: Boschendal Farm
Winelands | Boschendal Estate, Pniel St, Groot, Franschhoek, 7680
If escaping beyond the city’s bustle is more your speed, head to the outer arrondissements that fall under the Cape. Boschendal is an idyllic pick nestled in the lushest of pastoral zip codes.
It speaks to the lexicon of the Winelands; Shrouded in the anthology of a luxury Cape getaway with rural sensibilities and a penchant for stocking necessities every local wants and needs.Klaas In Session Review. (2021).
Wine country draws those local and far – titillating visitors with quality wines decadent in their display of terroir and local skill, in a pleasant setting.
Boschendal takes that up a notch though – in food and beverages.
Their farm-fresh food means the “soil to fork” methodology they’re serving up brings people from hundreds of kilometres away to dine and even shop the goodness. It’s not just fresh food for the whole family; it’s good and hearty food for solo dining or a lively group meet – plated beautifully, fulfilling, and well-matched to the wines and cocktails brimming with character.
What to try: The Werf Bar’s Signature cocktail – dubbed the East Meets West – a mix of Maker’s Mark, Roku gin, lemon, and ginger.
While soft drinks and beers are also on offer at their eateries (The Deli, The Werf), choose the road more travelled, with the farm’s own exquisite wines – like the aromatic Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay.
Vintages here, whether esteemed with age or award, or whether relatively youthful, are unanimously drinkable and enjoyable – even for the most casual of wine drinkers.
Fourth and Finally: Shoreditch House
Atlantic Seaboard | 221 Beach Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town, 8060
When last I visited the hotel that this restaurant makes its home in, I wasn’t quite sure whether the drinks menu captured any specific locale – unlike the distinct European airs of The Winchester Hotel.
The Winchester Hotel is all about a tranquil aesthetic for the most part – Cape Dutch architecture, copper trims, glass and steel portico to frame the entrance, and a most picturesque flush of bougainvillaea in their courtyard; this follows along to extensive landscaping, a pool I would sell a toe to revisit weekly, and the installation of a refreshed signature fountain when the hotel refurbished.
Shoreditch House and its neighbour Harvey’s Bar are the eateries and drinkeries in residence at this historic landmark.
They’re very much airy drink-and-dine destinations people mission to, with Houtlander wood furniture, as well as bistro-style, archetypal bar, and wrought-iron tableside seating – that look out to one of the most coveted sea views on the continent.
People have not stopped streaming in in their hundreds, for the delectable dining with its contemporary fare, as well dropping in to grab a straightforward drink within tastefully (and trendily) decorated spaces.
Shoreditch House is also a welcome and grand reprieve from the hectic number of cafes and contained restaurants & bars that dot through nearly every other street in Cape Town.
Shoreditch House’s tune is all about seafront glamour – emphasized by drink choices like Martini’s and Cosmo’s made with grade A ingredients. I’m a genuine fan of the Cosmo – particularly as the bartender heeded my instruction to make it extra sweet – but there’s nothing wrong with dabbling in the likes of their decent tequila and whisky picks, or leaving the choice to your waitron for a surprise.
I dont think I’m doing Shoreditch House’s drinks much justice since my last stint – perhaps another visit is due!