My mom came to South Africa and we spent two weeks traveling around the country doing fabulous things and it was amazing and I didn’t blog the whole time she was here. I think this is the first time in eight years that I’ve gone two weeks without posting, and now I have a huge backlog and I feel totally overwhelmed and I’m finding it hard to start. So before I dive into all the mother-daughter activities here is a quick post about Mooteebar.
Outside Mooteebar on a very cold evening in Melville. You might recognize the building as the former home of Café Mexicho, Melville’s now-defunct mediocre Mexican dive.
Mooteebar needs a place in this blog because: a) It’s in Melville; and b) It’s the most unique and innovative bar in Johannesburg. If you are remotely interested cocktails, no matter where you live in this city, you need to give Mooteebar a try. You will either love it or you will hate it — there are few in-betweens when it comes to opinions on this place. But Mooteebar is worth a trip either way.
Cocktails at Mooteebar
Mootee is a play on the word muti, or muthi, which has many meanings and interpretations but can be broadly described as South African traditional medicine. Muti is a complicated subject, as many people associate it — sometimes legitimately — with witch doctors and black magic and human sacrifice. But muti also encompasses herbal remedies and spirituality and traditional South African culture.
Muti is controversial and I think that’s why Mooteebar’s owners — all of whom are internationally acclaimed bartenders — chose it for their name.
I don’t want to spend too much time describing the Mooteebar menu, as it makes a lot more sense if you experience it yourself. But in short: a) The menu is hand-drawn, with beautiful illustrations conveying the feelings that each cocktail is meant to evoke; b) The actual ingredients of each cocktail are not listed in the descriptions — just the flavor notes and the “intentions” of the drink.
Not everyone likes this menu setup. Some people find it pretentious and weird and just want to order a martini and be done with it. I personally think the menu is fun and adventurous and cool.
Cocktails all cost R85 (about $6.50), which is expensive by Joburg standards but reasonable when you consider each drink is a work of art.
Nice-guy-Kevin asked for the strongest drink and this is what he got. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was indeed very strong and one of the most photogenic cocktails I’ve ever seen. Any drink requiring a blowtorch to prepare is a winner in my book.
Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the Mashonza, which is served a vessel shaped like a mopani worm and has an actual dried worm on top. But I’ve had it before and definitely recommend it.
Mooteebar also offers a great food menu — I can personally recommend the springbok rolls, the onion rings, and the chocolate milk tarts — excellent service, and the perfect decor and atmosphere for savoring avant-garde cocktails. It’s a huge step up from the sticky, tequila-soaked vibes of Café Mexicho, which used to occupy this space.
Mooteebar is at 78A 4th Avenue, Melville. Call +27-10-900-1399. Note the bar is closed on Mondays and only opens at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday.
Read another review of Mooteebar in Wanted magazine.