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Gin cocktail from Tonic

Five Fantastic Jozi Cocktail Bars

There’s a cocktail revolution happening in Joburg. New cocktail bars seem to be opening on a monthly basis in this town. By “cocktail bar”, I do not mean a smokey pickup joint with a disco ball serving florescent cosmos made by a bartender with slicked-back hair and a shiny shirt. (For some reason this was my cocktail bar stereotype until recently.) I’m talking about classy, cool, thoughtfully designed establishments run by people who are as much artists and chefs as they are bartenders. There’s not a shiny shirt to be found, and the cocktails these bartenders concoct are not of the two-for-one variety. Each drink is a carefully crafted work of art meant to be savoured slowly, like a French meal. Don’t expect to order more than one or two. So, in a continuation of my long-running Jozi Top Fives series, here are my five classy Jozi cocktail bar picks. 1) Mix Mix, in Rosebank’s Keyes Art Mile, is the bar I visited most recently so I’ll write about it first. Mix is inside Mesh, which is a fancy members-only club during the day but open to the public on evenings and weekends. Confusing, I know, but don’t let this […]

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Sanza's jollof rice

Friday Night at the Yeoville Dinner Club

Sanza Sandile isn’t an average chef. Which makes sense, because Yeoville isn’t an average suburb. Looking down on Rockey Street from the Yeoville Dinner Club. Actually I’m not even sure Sanza calls himself a chef — if you ask him he’ll probably say he’s a cook or a journalist or a philosopher or an entertainer. He’s all of those things and more. But above all, as I see it, this man is a chef. Sanza’s story is best told by Sanza himself and trust me, he will tell it to you. His food is as much about story-telling as it is about cooking. I’ll run through things briefly: Sanza came of age as apartheid ended and South African democracy began. He went to university, became a radio journalist, but all the while he cooked. He spent most of his adulthood in Yeoville, which was a gathering place for South Africa’s black intelligentsia in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the past two decades Yeoville has become an African melting pot, with immigrants flooding in from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other places. Many of Sanza’s peers left Yeoville and relocated to wealthier suburbs like Melville, which Sanza calls Smellville. Sanza […]

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A Little Piece of Fake Tuscany in Fourways

Last weekend I went to Montecasino. I went there to see a play: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which I enjoyed. I also went because I wanted to experience Montecasino, described on its website as follows: “Known for being Gauteng’s number one entertainment destination, having being (sic) voted Best Casino, Best Entertainment Complex, Best Cinema Complex and Best place to take out-of-towners.” (Note to the Montecasino marketing team: You should work on your website. It sucks.) Having lived in Joburg for a year and a half, I feel remiss in not visiting or writing about Montecasino until now. For better or worse, it’s a part of the city’s culture. But I must say, I’m at a loss for words to describe the place.

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Christmas Eve-Eve at Ratz

Melville is known for its musty book shops, vintage clothing stores, and a lively bar scene. It’s also known for its rats. Rats are a common sight in Melville and the most popular bar in town is aptly named Ratz. Joe used to be a regular patron at Ratz, in the good old days when rats ran free around Melville. (Although I’m disappointed to report that Joe never actually saw a rat at Ratz.) Current-day Ratz in the late afternoon. Today, Ratz has had a makeover and is actually quite posh, in a quasi-seedy kind of way.

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