Drinking & Nightlife
Cape Town didn’t become known as the ‘Tavern of the Seven Seas’ for nothing. There are scores of bars – with stunning views of either beach or mountain – in which to sip cocktails, fine wines or craft beers. If strutting your stuff on the dance floor is more your thing, then there’s bound to be a club to suit.
Join the Jol
The busy nights are Wednesday, Friday or Saturday when you’ll see how the locals like to party, or jol, as they say here. But it’s not all about drinking and dancing. Cape Town’s nightlife embraces cabaret and comedy venues, and live music gigs from jazz to rap as well as hybrid events such as First Thursdays and Tuning the Vine.
What to Drink
There are abundant opportunities to sample the Cape’s wines in bars, restaurants and at the cellar door. Cocktails are also popular, and the best mixologists incorporate local flavours and artisanal spirits into their liquid creations.
European beer-brewing at the Cape also has a long history here: Pieter Visagle is said to have first brewed ale on the banks of the Liesbeek River in 1658. At Newlands Brewery, major brands such as Castle and Black Label are pumped into barrels and 750ml (quart) and 330ml ('dumpy') bottles. Another popular mass-market brand is Windhoek, brewed in Namibia.
Microbrewing and artisan spirits distilling are booming, too, with craft brewers and distillers clustering in Woodstock and Salt River. Beer lovers should mark their calendar for the Cape Town Festival of Beer at the end of November or early December.
Cape Town’s club scene is firmly plugged into the global dance network, so expect star appearances by international DJs. Trance parties, such as Vortex (www.intothevortex.co.za) and Alien Safari (www.facebook.com/aliensafari), held outdoors an hour or so from the city centre, happen throughout the year; check their respective websites for details or make some enquiries at backpacker hostels.
- City Bowl, Foreshore, Bo-Kaap & De Waterkant Pumping nightlife on upper Long St and Bree St. LGBT bars and clubs in De Waterkant.
- East City, District Six, Woodstock & Observatory Lively clubs and bars on the borders of District Six; student/boho hangouts in Observatory.
- Gardens & Surrounds Kloof St and Kloof Nek Rd are the hip hangouts.
- Green Point & Waterfront Have drinks with either harbour, bay or stadium views.
- Simon's Town & Southern Peninsula Enjoy beers or coffee at Kalk Bay, close by the crashing waves of False Bay.
- Southern Suburbs Established pubs around Newlands and historic wine estates in Constantia.
Need to Know
- Bars Noon to midnight, but some stay open much later.
- Clubs 8pm to 4am, but most don’t get going until well after midnight.
From R30 to R100 for clubs, depending on the event.
It’s the norm to tip bartenders 10%.
- Computicket (http://online.computicket.com/web)
- Webtickets (www.webtickets.co.za)
- The alcohol content of beer is around 5% – stronger than UK or US beer.
- It’s OK to drink the tap water.
- Cape Town Magazine (www.capetownmagazine.co.za)
- Inside Guide (https://insideguide.co.za)
- IOL (www.iol.co.za/entertainment/whats-on/cape-town)
- More Than Food (www.morethanfood.co.za)
- The Next 48 Hours (http://48hours.co.za)
- The Brewmistress (http://brewmistress.co.za)
Drinking & Nightlife
- Openwine It's wine first, food second here, with some 200 plus local drops to choose from.
- Orphanage Dark, sophisticated and stylish bar with creative libations.
- Banana Jam Go-to bar for local craft beer enthusiasts, plus tasty Caribbean food.
- Brass Bell Classic Kalk Bay pub – so close to the water you could jump in.
- Espressolab Microroasters Global coffee blends treated with the same respect as fine wines.
- Honest Chocolate Cafe Homage to fine dark chocolate in liquid, solid, ice-cream and cake form.
Cocktails & Spirits
- Bascule Sign up for a whisky tasting or simply enjoy the view of the marina with your dram.
- Outrage of Modesty Secret cocktail emporium with an aroma-based menu.
- Gin Bar Get a taste for Cape Town's burgeoning craft gin scene.
- Woodstock Gin Company Sample small batch gins mixed with their own brands of tonic water.