Best places to celebrate in Jozi, Cape Town & Durban

Words: Crush

We round up a selection the best celebratory hot spots in  Jozi, the Mother City & Durbs.


Churchills Bar & Lounge

If you know your cockney slang, then you’ll be right at home ordering a tiddlywink or a tumble down the sink at Churchills Bar and Lounge in Melrose Arch.

Celebrating all things British, this space has you feeling like you’ve stepped into the private library of the famous man it’s named for. Rich wood wall panelling and tufted leather couches set the tone and Union Jacks are proudly displayed in cushions and other accents. It truly is a celebration of stiff upper-lipped culture with a funky, modern twist.

Winston himself is said to have had a penchant for whiskey and if this is your tipple of choice, you can choose from a wide selection of single malts, blends and bourbons. For celebrations, Winston fancied popping the cork on a bottle of Pol Roger and the same  can also be enjoyed at Churchills, including a speciality Winston Churchill 2000 vintage.

If your British inclination is more secret agent than politician, opt for a martini done right. The Dry Martini – offered stirred or shaken, is made with Elyx Premium Vodka or Bombay Sapphire Gin, splashed with a thimble of Cinzano Extra Dry and garnished with oil of lemon and two Spanish olives. The drinks menu is very comprehensive and covers everything you could possibly want to drink, with a number of premium options of each. There is also a food menu that offers bar snacks, as well as full meals.

Once you’ve supped and sipped, finish off the evening with a puff of a lah-di-dah in the cigar lounge and a natter about current affairs… it’s the way Winston would have wanted it.


Level 4 Champagne Bar 

Sipping a glass or two of bubbly in a beautiful setting has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures and at the Level 4 Champagne Bar, at 54 on Bath, you can do exactly that.

Level 4 is a luxurious bar dedicated to Champagne and Mèthode Cap Classique bubbles. You can sit in a little enclave plushly decorated in tones of black and gold next to the bar, or out on the terrace overlooking the garden, where you can peek through the trees to see the buzzing city vistas of Rosebank and beyond.

Many people have a glass of bubbly at the Champagne Bar before heading off for dinner at the Level 4 Restaurant, but the space is wonderful for a celebration drink or sundowners to unwind after a long week.

On the menu, you can enjoy bottles of premiere champagnes including Moët & Chandon, Brut Imperial, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Yellow Label and Dom Perignon, and what is great, is that due to the hotel group’s buying power, champagnes served at Tsogo Sun establishments are well-priced.

By the glass you can enjoy Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV or Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2012, and there are other great South African bubblies by the bottle on the menu, as well as delicious champagne cocktails.

If you’re feeling a little peckish, the Champagne Bar offers gourmet bar snacks, and if you’re after something a bit more decadent, head into the main restaurant for a taste of a very special menu by Executive Chef Phil de Villiers.



Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar

There’s something special about an urban celebration. Perhaps it’s the twinkling city lights that glitter across the night sky or the feeling of being on top of the world that comes with a rooftop location – whatever it is, Tjing Tjing has it.

Part rooftop bar, part attic, this indie space has character in bucket loads. Quirky Asian decor mixes with wood and leather finishes, giving the space warmth, while maintaining a laid-back, yet trendy vibe. The menu includes a great choice of cocktails; classics like the Long Island Ice Tea are mixed up with newbies such as the Ginger Ninja and the Apple and Buchu Martini. The Espressotini, (Stoli Vanilla Gin, espresso and vanilla syrup), will suit coffee-loving city slickers and the Jelly Baby, (Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, lime and jelly babies) is for those after a bit of zingy fun.

As with any Cape bar worth its salt, the drinks menu includes a good selection of local wines, MCC’s and of course craft beers. There is an Asian sway to the menu; sample the glazed pork belly skewers or tempura vegetables, or if you’re after old-school bar favourites, try the beer battered fish and chips or cheesy quesadillas.

Tjing Tjing prides itself on setting the tone with an eclectic selection of music, so don’t be surprised when your toes are tapping along to the beat. As the sun sets over the city

and those lights begin to flicker across the landscape, raise your glass, look your buddy in the eye and chime in ‘tjing tjing!’ as you toast that special occasion in true Mother City style.


Umi Restaurant & Whiskey Bar

The Camps Bay strip is a natural choice when it comes to choosing a spectacular spot to celebrate in the Mother City. Umi, which means sea or ocean in Japanese, is the perfect name for this space, which offers unparalleled views over the Atlantic Ocean. The décor and finishes exude a sense of luxury and make for the perfect backdrop in which to celebrate in style. The restaurant has a specialty Whiskey Bar located in a cosy alcove and boasts over 100 local and international whiskeys. It seats around 40 people and is a stylishly intimate space. Whiskey connoisseurs can select from single malts, blends, Irish and bourbon whiskeys. Umi also has a comprehensive drinks menu including a fabulous selection of bubbles to suit any celebration. With champagnes from Louis Roederer, Dom Perignon, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Armand and Billecart, there is no shortage of choice. There is also a selection of local MCC’s and a staggering choice of some of the best wines from estates around the Western Cape.

Some celebrations call for a little less flash and a little more fun, and if that’s the case, try one of the many cocktails on offer. A signature Pineapple Sake-tini will hit the spot, or if you’re still trying to get off the ground from the night before, try the Japanese hangover cure – Harakiry – Skyy Vodka and lemon juice, blended with Umi spice mix and tomato juice.

Whatever your poison of choice, a glass of it, coupled with a stunning view and beautiful Asian food to dine on, makes Umi a top choice to toast a milestone occasion.



The Dutch

The Dutch is an over-21 only speakeasy; a retro bar aimed at a trendier, slightly older crowd who have a strong appreciation for music and who enjoy dressing up a little bit more formally than one would normally do in ‘Durbs-by-the-sea’. Essentially, it’s about the music. The walls are hung with nostalgia in the form of oversized images of legends like Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and Van Morrison. The stage is a focus and The Dutch prides itself on being one of Durban’s top live music venues.

The cocktails are styled on the Prohibition Era, a simpler time where a cocktail was less about the fancy and more about the flavour. These are all-alcohol cocktails, where you are supposed to taste the alcohol as cocktails were originally enjoyed, before blenders or ice. The cocktails go back to simple, original recipes with a real taste that you can appreciate.

The Clover Club is a perfect example of this, consisting of premium gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and an egg white. The egg white gives the cocktail a thick creamy head that is smooth and delicious and quite unlike conventional cocktails. True to their ethos of appreciation, tapas style food is served so that you can take time to taste and enjoy the flavours.

In this bar things are done with class. From the patrons who arrive dressed stylishly, to the obvious shared appreciation of good music and great drinks. The space has clearly been created with a touch of nostalgia and a good dose of passion, which emanate to everyone who visits.


Harry’s Bar

Harry’s Bar is named after a mysterious man, a grey haired intrepid traveller, a lover of good whisky and cocktails. His bar is where stories and experiences are shared in a carefully curated, library-like space. A place to escape to, to step away from the real world and to enjoy a moment and a drink. All of the cocktails are related to something that Harry has seen, experienced or even people that Harry has met.

Harry’s bar has won three Diageo World Class Awards, three years in a row, taking first place in KZN, second only to Cape Town’s The Orphanage. They also boast the best barman in South Africa, Trace van der Merwe. He will be representing Harry’s Bar and South Africa while competing for the title of Heineken’s Best Bartender in the World, at the Global Bartender final, in Amsterdam later this year.

Trace’s skills are obvious when you watch him pour you a cocktail – intentionally done as a spectacle. The Asian Fusion comes as a beautifully deconstructed piece. You watch as Trace carefully warms the vanilla, lemongrass and ginger tea to infuse with the alcohol – it’s a careful balance of Asian inspired ingredients, lit in a wine glass, to create the most delicate, elegant and delicious gin and tonic you will taste.


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