Inside The Attic by Bo-Vine with Dale Parker

Words: Crush | Photography: Supplied

With its hidden entrance, lofty yet laid-back interiors and air of intrigue, The Attic by Bo-Vine has captured the attention of socialites and tastemakers – not only for its ocean views but also for its top-notch cocktails. Seven months into operations, we chat with Dale Parker, the creative force behind The Attic, about crafting the perfect drink and how they make their cocktails from scratch. Join the conversation.

Pictured: Dale Parker of The Attic by Bo-Vine

Conveniently located on the Camps Bay strip, the popular cocktail lounge is adorned with Banksy-style artworks, where Mia Wallace channels the Mona Lisa’s mystique and Old World emperors are decorated in graffiti. This intimate yet captivating space is an extension of the Bo-Vine Wine & Grill House, offering guests the ideal transition from dinner to cocktails.

We love the interiors and atmosphere of the lounge. What was the initial design concept?

The idea for The Attic was quite simple. Previously, the space was a venue called ‘Beach House,’ which, Gregor Bremer, the owner of the holding company, had available. We’ve known each other for years and I usually have concepts mulling through my brain.

I always wanted to open a shop called ‘The Attic’ because everyone in their life has either had their first kiss in an attic or had their first beer, sherry or whiskey that they’ve stolen from Daddy’s cupboard. Something’s always happened in an attic. So, that’s what we wanted to try and recreate, but giving people better memories of their attic [experiences].

Speakeasies and hidden bars seem more popular these days, did you want to have that hidden feel with the entrance?

Yes, that’s what we were going for. We wanted a random picture that opens up into a bar, so people don’t really know what they’re walking into.

Tell us about the interesting artwork.

Gregor Bremer owns Soda Custom, one of the best interior companies in the country. We wanted to go a little bit ‘tongue in cheek’ – intimate, swanky, almost touching kitsch but not.  Nicole Wrensch, an incredible designer at Soda Custom, showed us a few Banksy pieces. She just really took it to town and found all these images. Gregor was opposed to one or two of them; I wasn’t, I loved all of them.

In conceptualising the drinks menu, what flavours and cocktail styles did you want to highlight?

For our signature cocktails, we wanted to follow the flavours of the seasons. We’re in winter now, so we’ve gone with very tomatoey, citrusy notes. For summer, we introduced cooler fruits that were available. But mainly, it was to pay homage to the classics.

What’s your go-to cocktail?

Sheesh, I have two. Definitely, an Old Fashioned – preferably with a very high-hitting, age-statement whiskey – and then a Whiskey Sour. I’ve been drinking Whiskey Sours for as long as I can remember.

Alcohol sells itself, but you still need something that sets you apart. What gives The Attic an edge over competitors?

What we do is slightly different. We like to host people. That’s why it’s such an intimate space. We like to get to know our customers and, obviously, speak through the menu, but we also ask them what their flavour of choice is. We built off-menu drinks for them or sell them one of our drinks. Also, everything’s made from scratch [like the syrups and sodas] and with fresh ingredients. That’s what sets us apart.

Which mixology trend are you loving at the moment?

If we had about three hours, I could go on forever! But one trend I’ve always followed, and that’s close to my heart is working with fresh fruits and ingredients. Also, trying to bring out the freshness of those fruits; I can get quite technical sometimes. I like to wait for the S level (sugar content) to be as high as possible. That means I don’t have to use other sugars.

I was fortunate to do a beverage pack course, where I learned how to really work with fruit. For example, taking fruit and putting natural sugars on it, letting it seep for as long as possible, and then creating syrup, so the flavours can really pop.

I also like preserving things – always have and always will. We try to have a zero-waste policy, so any offcuts go into Consol jars. From there, we add apple cider or other kinds of vinegar and turn them into [cocktail] shrubs, which we’ll use at a later stage.

Top left: Duke Whyte, head mixologist at The Attic by Bo-Vine | Bottom: Dale Parker

One thing you can’t stand when ordering cocktails at bars?

Lazy bartenders and using store-bought syrups – it’s not difficult to make your own. I see so many bars doing this. They’ve got all the fresh fruit, but they’re throwing it away and buying syrups. You can make your own!

There’s no better pairing than food and drinks. Talk us through the delicious snacks menu and bruschetta.

The snacks and bruschetta are from Bo-Vine Wine & Grill House (downstairs). Chase Charles is a really good chef and when we sat down, we tried to balance the flavours, so that there’s a little bit of acidity and a bit of of salt (to make customers drink more). We just wanted to make it light and tasty.

How do you keep customers coming back? What’s the key to running a fabulous cocktail lounge?

At the end of the day, it’s the service. (I think that the service industry has obviously gone down a bit since COVID happened.) But treat your guests like you’ve invited them to your home. Also, don’t rip off guests. If you’re going to make a good cocktail and deliver it, make sure that it is made with love and passion, that it’s tasty, and that they enjoy it.

Speak to your customers, get to know their names, and ask them what they want and like. Just looking after the people, that’s what the service industry is about. It’s about us hosting guests. If you do that right, you’ve got a key to success.

The Attic has been open for about seven months now. What’s been the most rewarding part of this journey?

The reactions on the customer’s faces with the cocktails. When they take that first sip and they’re like, ‘Wow!’ To me, that counts the most. That’s what makes me and my team happy. Delivering something that customers get and thoroughly enjoy.

Visit The Attic by Bo-Vine to experience the second chapter of their cocktail menu.

Location: Shop 3, The Promenade Shopping Centre, Camps Bay, Cape Town | Mon-Thurs: 16h00–23h00; *Fri-Sun: 13h00–23h00 | Friday Winter Trading: 16h00–23h00 | Call 061 528 1040 | Book via Dineplan | Instagram

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