Drinking and nightlife in Southern Africa

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Johannesburg

    Mad Giant

    A superlative addition to Jozi's inner city, Mad Giant offers excellent craft beers (brewed on-site) paired with delectable Asian-inspired tapas dishes at its classy restaurant Urbanologi. The spectacular steampunk-style space has an award-winning design that seems partly fashioned from a giant Meccano set. Thirty-minute tours (R70) of the brewery are possible and taster samples start at R50. Outside there's a beer garden and the rest of the 1 Fox precinct with its weekend food market.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Johannesburg

    Mooteebar

    Mooteebar – a play on the Zulu word muthi – serves upscale cocktails inspired by South African traditional medicine. The hand-drawn menu describes the feelings each cocktail evokes, rather than the actual ingredients. Each drink is a work of art: one served in a paper bag emits steam when opened, another in a worm-shaped ceramic cup. Mooteebar also offers an innovative food menu.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Truth

    This self-described ‘steampunk roastery and coffee bar’, with pressed-tin ceilings, naked hanging bulbs and mad-inventor-style metalwork, is an awe-inspiring space in which to mingle with city slickers. Apart from coffee, craft beers, quality baked goods (including fresh croissants) and various sandwiches are on the menu.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Free State

    The Dog and Fig

    A craft brewery in the picturesque outskirts of Parys offering excellent brews, a lovely setting and free, informal tours. The brewmaster brings in top-quality hops and malt from Germany, and his creations pair well with cheese, biltong and chocolate platters. The kitchen also serves up three meals a day, including pub specialties like smoked Dutch sausage and tender eisbein. There's a kids menu and children's play area, compete with trampoline. A tower, under construction at the time of research, will eventually host silver service affairs.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Orphanage

    Named after the nearby lane, the mixologists here prepare some tempting artisanal libations with curious names including Knicker-Dropper Glory, Dollymop and Daylight Daisy, using ingredients as varied as peanut butter, kumquat compote and 'goldfish'! It's dark, sophisticated and stylish, with outdoor seating beneath the trees on Bree St. Even better, they donate a portion of their profits to an orphanage in Athlone – so you can knock back that extra cocktail with a clean conscience.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Lusaka

    Bongwe Pub & Grill

    A favourite watering hole for many locals, expats and tourists (and basically anyone who likes a drink) is this tropical dive bar, set in an open-air shack centred around a palm tree. There's a pool table, sports on the TV and always someone around for a chat. On Fridays it's usually pumping and regularly has local bands and DJs. Also keep an eye out for its (mostly) annual music festival, which always has an interesting lineup of bands.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Espressolab Microroasters

    Geek out about coffee at this lab staffed with passionate roasters and baristas. Their beans, which come from single farms, estates and co-ops from around the world, are packaged with tasting notes such as those for fine wines. Inventive coffee drinks include a vitamin C shot of espresso mixed with freshly pressed ginger, honey and lemon, and a refreshing soda made with cascara, a sugar made from coffee-bean skins.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Green Point & ­Waterfront

    Bascule

    Over 480 varieties of whisky are served at the Grace’s sophisticated, nautical-themed bar, with a few slugs of the 50-year-old Glenfiddich still available (at just R18,000 a tot). Outdoor tables facing the marina are a superb spot for drinks and tasty tapas. Make a booking for a whisky tasting (from R395), during which you can sample various drams paired with food.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Martini Bar

    The magnificent pink, lemon, burgundy and teal lounge at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel specialises in martinis such as the sweet and spicy white-chocolate-and-chilli flavour, with many other cocktails on offer, as well as single-origin coffees and Constantia wines. You can take high tea here (R225 per person) or retire to another part of the grounds wandered by peacocks.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Drakensberg Escarpment

    Wild About Whisky

    This whisky bar, one of the southern hemisphere's best stocked, offers over 30 themed tastings and pairings (R165 to R865) of its 1400 world whiskies, ranging from single malts to bourbons. Other spirits including gin are also represented, as are South African producers. There's Innis & Gunn Scottish craft beer on tap and a shop selling around 300 whiskies.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Pretoria

    Capital Craft

    Pretoria's premier beer hangout is a huge place whose long tables, both inside the barn-like bar and out in the garden, are perpetually packed. The focus here is craft beer from around the country. The selection is impressive – try a few tasters before ordering a pint. Want something to soak up all that ale? The pulled-pork sandwich is superb.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Johannesburg

    Great Dane

    Fun and friendly Great Dane is one of the mainstays of the ever-changing Braamfontein bar strip. The music is very danceable and staff make you feel like friends. Early on it's a good place for warm-up drinks, especially in the appealing courtyard hung with old lampshades; come midnight the tables are cleared and the dancing commences.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Simon's Town & Southern Peninsula

    Tiger's Milk

    There's a panoramic view of Muizenberg Beach through the floor-to-ceiling window of this hangar-like bar and restaurant. It's open all day for food (good pizza and steaks; mains R110), but is more of a sundowner venue and nightspot with its long bar, stools and exposed-brick walls hung with quirky decor, including a motorbike.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Limpopo

    Grind

    This mobile coffee tuk-tuk is the brainchild of master barista and all-round-coffee-guru Ben Schempers. Keep an eye on Facebook on weekdays then track it down for Polokwane's (Limpopo's?) best coffee. It's a real hipster hangout in the best sense, with gourmet sandwiches complementing the fabulous artisan coffee.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Banana Jam

    Real beer lovers rejoice – this convivial Caribbean restaurant and bar is like manna from heaven, with over 30 beers on draught (including Banana Jam's own brews) and bottled ales from all the top local microbrewers, including Jack Black, Devil's Peak and CBC. Cocktail happy hour is 5pm to 6pm daily.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Sea Point to Hout Bay

    Leopard Bar

    With a dress-circle view over the Atlantic, the Twelve Apostles Hotel's bar is an ideal spot to escape the hoi polloi of nearby Camps Bay for a classy cocktail or – better yet – a deliciously decadent afternoon tea (R295; served from 10am to 4pm).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Cape Town

    Lady Bonin's Tea Bar

    A charmingly decorated, relaxing place in which to sample organic and sustainable artisanal teas, fruity and herbal brews, and vegan baked treats. At front is the shop selling all their blends, while the tea room is a through the vine-covered courtyard to the rear.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Windhoek

    Joe’s Beer House

    True to its moniker, Joe’s stocks a wide assortment of Namibian and German beers, and you can count on prolonged drinking here until early in the morning. It’s the favoured drinking hole of Afrikaners and something of a Windhoek institution.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Windhoek

    Boiler Room @ The Warehouse Theatre

    From after-work drinks to live music and a crowd that likes to dance, the Boiler Room at the Warehouse is one of the coolest and most versatile places in town – the latter quality makes us think it might just last the distance.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Johannesburg

    Living Room

    This plant-packed oasis offers great city views of Jo'burg. Enjoy cold beers, cocktails and bar snacks as you watch the city go by at this rooftop jungle decorated with fairy lights. Follow the hipster crowds here on Sunday after dropping by the Arts on Main market for a supreme afternoon chill session with live music.