15 fantastic cocktail spots in Cape Town to try this summer

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 14 December 2016 Tags:, ,

Where to find 15 of the coolest cocktail spots in Cape Town this summer, from rooftop bars to sand-between-your-toes venues.

Photo by Rachel Robinson

While nobody seems to be sure where the word “cocktail” originated, there are some interesting stories and legends as to its origins. One of my favourite theories is that of a female tavern owner who used the tail feathers of her neighbour’s rooster to decorate and stir her drinks. Thus the name “cocktail” was born!

Feathers or no feathers, cocktails and summer make for an excellent mix, so here’s a guide to some of the coolest cocktail spots in Cape Town that should be visited this summer.

1. African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel, Century City

Opening times: 07:00-21:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: 
R50-80 / R30 on Thursdays
Website: 
marriott.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Enjoy half-price cocktails at the rooftop bar at African Pride Crystal Towers.

 
The top floor of this stylish hotel has a bar with a sparkling swimming pool (for hotel guests only, but you are welcome to lounge next to it) and a magnificent view of Table Mountain which makes for a beautiful backdrop when it comes to cocktail happy hour. Which in fact is for just over two hours every Thursday from 16:30 to 19:00 when you can sip on selected cocktails for half their price while tucking into half-price sushi. Half-price cocktails include Pina Colada, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Margarita and Strawberry Daiquiri. Other cocktails on the menu include brandy cocktails, bubbly cocktails and martini’s, The sushi pieces are large, so you don’t need to order lots of it. As an added bonus, if you park in the parking bays next to the hotel you can have your card signed at the bar and the hotel will pay for your parking.

 

2. Cape to Cuba, Kalk Bay

Opening times: From 12:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R50 alcoholic / R30 non-alcoholic
Website: capetocuba.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Cocktails at Cape To Cuba, shaken up by men with well-defined arms!

 
Enjoy a cocktail with sand underfoot at this popular Kalk Bay spot where men sporting Che Guevara-style berets and with well-defined arms shake up Mojitos and more all afternoon and evening long (thus the well-defined arms!) In-between the trains trundling past, you can enjoy a view of Kalk Bay harbour and the lighthouse while sipping on a Cuban Sunrise or a Voodoo cocktail amongst others. They also serve up tapas, burgers, seafood and other dishes if you are feeling peckish.

 

3. Chapman’s Peak Hotel, Hout Bay

Opening times: 12:00-22:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R60
Website: chapmanspeakhotel.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

The terrace at Chapman’s Peak Hotel is a good spot for a cocktail after cruising Chapman’s Peak Drive.

 
The ever-popular terrace at this much-loved hotel at the foot of Chapman’s Peak Drive serves up various classic cocktails, including Long Island Iced Tea, Pina Colada, Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Strawberry Daiquiri, Tequila Sunrise and Vodka martini’s. It makes for a great stop after a drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive and the views across the ocean are spectacular on a good day. They serve up various seafood and meat dishes, but are famous for their calamari which is worth ordering. You can park underground at the hotel, but space is limited.

 

4. Dunes Beach Restaurant and Bar, Hout Bay

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 09:00-11:00, Sundays 09:00-22:00
Average cocktail price: R50
Website: dunesrestaurant.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

The Dunes Blue Lagoon is the signature cocktail at Dunes Restaurant and Bar.

 
Provided the wind is not howling, this is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail while taking in views of the ocean and Chapman’s Peak. However, it is just as pleasant inside if it is blowing outside, so don’t let a windy day deter you! It’s also very child-friendly with a massive playground which is good news for parents. Their signature cocktail, Dunes Blue Lagoon, comes in a huge goblet that may need two hands to carry it! Other cocktails include Sex On The Beach, G&T Grande, a Black Margarita and all the other classics. They also serve sushi, nibbles, burgers, pizza, seafood and grills. A breakfast buffet is available on weekends.

 

5. Grand Café and Beach, Granger Bay

Opening times: From 12:00 daily
Average cocktail price: R75
Website: grandafrica.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Hang out in the sand with the well-heeled at Grand Cafe Beach in Granger Bay.

 
If you want to hang out with the well-heeled crowd, then head to this swanky beach bar where you can remove your heels and enjoy the sand between your toes while ordering a cocktail from one of the 40 waiters on hand at any given time. Be prepared to shell out a bit more for a cocktail here, but where else are you going to find a Madagascan Vanilla Daiquiri, a Moulin Rouge or a Figgy Sour? Note that no children under 16 are allowed after 17:00 and parking costs R20.

 

6. Harald’s Bar & Terrace at The Radisson Park Inn, Foreshore

Opening times: 10:30-23:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R60
Website: parkinn.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Enjoy the view and take a dip in the splash pool at Haralds Bar.

 
Being on the Foreshore, this rooftop bar relies on The Cape Doctor behaving itself! When I was there the wind was not playing along and I had to dodge chairs being flung across the terrace. But on a good day, it’s beautiful and that’s not only the view over the city and Table Mountain. The terrace has a smart little splash pool and loungers on astro-turf that anyone is welcome to use, provided you order food or drinks. They have all the classic cocktails and a few signature ones that have been designed by the bar staff. There’s also a Fast and Furious cocktail and other variations such as a Kiwi, Cucumber & Pimms Punch and a Pomegranate and Mint G&T. Considering a Savanna costs almost the same as a signature cocktail, you may as well indulge! They also serve baskets, sliders, platters, pizzas, burgers and tapas.

 

7. Kitima, Hout Bay

Opening times: Tuesday to Thursday 17:00-01:00, Friday to Saturday 17:00-02:00, Sundays 12:00-16:00
Average cocktail cost: R70
Website: kitima.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Indulge in stylish cocktails at Kitima, situated in a National Monument.

 
Everything about Kitima is chic and their bar in the Raya Lounge is no exception. Luxurious wood panelling and moody lighting add to the ambiance while you enjoy a cocktail from their extensive menu that includes martini’s, exotics and exquisites. Cocktails are slightly on the more pricey side, but they do have exotic choices like Original Singapore Sling, Bankok Breeze and Rose Caipiroska. Their Espresso or Chilli Chocolate Martini makes for a good end to a stylish evening. Plus there’s a lovely little ghost story that goes with this restaurant – ask the barman! This restaurant is popular, so best to make a booking.

 

8. Mynt Café, Camps Bay

Opening times: 08:00-23:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R65
Website: myntcafe.co.za

 

Photo from Mynt Cafe website

Cocktails at Mynt Cafe are a reasonable price for a spot on the Camps Bay strip.

 
I ended up at Mynt Café along the Camps Bay strip due to being ignored for over 15 minutes at a well-known cocktail bar up the road. And I am glad I did as it has just as good a view of the beach and the service is top-notch. I was greeted and seated immediately and had my cocktail within five minutes of ordering it! Plus they are fairly affordable for this neck of the woods, so well worth a visit if you want to feel part of the elite, but don’t have the same size wallet. They have all the classic cocktails and some interesting craft cocktails, including Rose Petal Margarita, Papaya & Paprika Club Sour and Peach & Orange Sangria. The Apricot Passion comes highly recommended! They also serve light meals, burgers, sandwiches, breakfasts and dinners.

 

9. On The Rocks, Blouberg

Opening hours: 09:00-22:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R45
Website: ontherocks.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Cocktails with a classic view at On The Rocks.

 
For cocktails with a view, this is the winner! Situated literally on the rocks in Blouberg, the terrace offers the classic Table Mountain view, along with a good view of Robben Island, while the sea crashes onto the rocks below. You couldn’t get closer to the ocean if you tried and there’s plenty of seating available to enjoy it, including a rather comfy couch and chairs. If you get there too early (like 11:00), you will only be able to order a Pina Colada or Strawberry Daiquiri, but there’s a fairly wide range of the classic cocktails available at reasonable prices. They also have a Cucumber Gin Fizz, a Cherry Cola Julep and their signature Smashed On The Rocks on the cocktail list. Breakfasts, seafood and grills are also served and I recommend you make a booking and make a day of it.

 

10. Outrage of Modesty, City Bowl

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday from 18:00
Average cocktail cost: R100
Website: anoutrage.com

 

Photo from Outrage of Modesty website.

Interesting cocktail ingredients are used at Outrage of Modesty.

 
I haven’t personally visited this exclusive cocktail bar in Shortmarket Street yet, but it is on my list and it should probably be on yours too. Just the name alone makes me curious! A friend has had cocktails there and said it was quite the experience – it appears they use interesting ingredients such as pickled strawberries, wood sorrel, fermented red cabbage and lemon pelargonium in their concoctions. So if cocktail names like Elderflower Gimlett, Peas & Flowers, Man vs Pig, Pine & Wine and Avo On Toast intrigue you, then pop in and try one!

 

11. Planet Bar at The Mount Nelson, City Bowl

Opening times: From 12:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R100
Website: belmond.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

The Planet Bar is as stylish as The Mount Nelson.

 
The Planet Bar has seen many famous faces, from politicians to rock stars, so you never know who you may bump into while sitting at the bar or on the terrace! The Nellie (as it’s affectionately known) is wonderfully posh and the Planet Bar is the same, so you can expect slightly higher prices. However, cocktails are served with a selection of bar snacks (crisps, nuts and olives) which makes the price tag seem not so bad. The cocktail menu is a few pages long and includes classic cocktails, sparking cocktails, and brandy cocktails, along with a selection of Mojitos and martini’s, so it could take a while to make up your mind what to have!

 

12. The Red Herring, Noordhoek

Opening times: 12:00-23:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R45
Website: theredherring.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

The sunset terrace at The Red Herring offers great views of Noordhoek.

 
With its great views from the sunset deck and dog-friendly courtyard, it’s no wonder that this restaurant is always popular. They have zooshed themselves up over the years, but you can still expect good food and good service in a relaxed atmosphere. Their cocktail menu has all the classics with a few additions such as a White Russian, Blueberry Burst, Cherrytini and Malibu Coconutini. Their pizzas are excellent and they also serve tapas, grills, seafood and a selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. There’s live music on selected days as well as a pub quiz night to add to the festivities.

 

13. Strolla, Sea Point

Opening times: 07:00-23:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R50
Website: strolla.co.za

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

While it may not sport great views, Strolla is a good spot to enjoy reasonably priced cocktails.

 
You won’t necessarily get a great view from Stolla (it’s right next to a MyCiti bus stop), but the bar and outside area is very attractive and the cocktails are average prices. They have all the classics, a signature collection, a few exotics (non-alcoholic) and some variations, including flavoured Gin & Tonics, Daiquiris, Margaritas and Mojitos. For something different, try their Apple Cognac Sour or Vanilla Passion Elyx from the signature range. They also serve tapas, pizzas, grills and seafood.

 

14. Tobago’s at Radisson Blu, Granger Bay

Opening times: 11:00-24:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R70
Website: radissonblu.com

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Tobago’s is a beautiful venue and a great spot to enjoy a sundowner cocktail.

 
Sadly Tobago’s doesn’t offer their cocktail happy hour anymore, but it is still a beautiful venue and a great spot to enjoy a sundowner cocktail. If you are lucky you can grab a spot on the couches right by the ocean, but all the tables offer a good view and are under umbrellas – much-needed in summer! Tobago’s offers all the classics, but also have some interesting cocktail choices such as Africa Honey Badger, Afropolitan, Basil Gin Smash and a tequila-infused Cape Town Tea Party!

 

15. Zenith Sky Bar at Cape Royale, Green Point

Opening hours: 08:00-24:00 daily
Average cocktail cost: R60 for a glass, R180 for a jug, R330 for a bowl
Facebook page: facebook.com/ZenithSkyBar1

 

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Astounding views of the Mother City and a pool you can swim in naked at Zenith Sky Bar.

 
To get to this bar in the sky, you first need to walk through the posh Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, which makes you wonder what’s in store on the 10th floor! I battled to find it to be honest as I took the lift to the 8th floor – if you do this, take the stairs up to the 10th floor. If you find the tradesmen lift in the hotel’s underground parking area, you will be taken pretty much to the entrance to the bar. It really does have fantastic views of the Mother City and a rather nice swimming pool that everyone is welcome to use – naked if you wish. They have a small selection of classic cocktails, also available in jugs and bowls – it’s all about sharing, or spending a long time by or in the pool! They also serve sushi and have a Burger Mondays special. It seems anything goes here, so brace yourself for what could become a fairly wild rooftop party!

Also read: 35 of Cape Town’s best outdoor bars and pubs

If you have a favourite cocktail spot, let us know in the comments below!