Night life

Dear drinker: these are the classics

Feb 28, 2019, Author: Candice May

Joburg’s vibrant bar scene is a true reflection of its cultural diversity, rife with watering holes of all kinds – walk a few blocks and you’ll run into a crowded neighbourhood favourite, pricy cocktail spot or grungy dive. With so many options, picking one to get a taste of the city’s multiculturalism can be a daunting task, so we’ve rounded up the bars you absolutely need to drink in before you die (or leave Jozi – whichever comes first). 


Sip retro-cool cocktails 

Want to get a taste of the back-in-time fun? The vintage glamour of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, a revamped heritage building that was once an Edwardian hotel, stems from the antique bar that’s as much a feature now as it was when the hotel was built in 1899. Known as Lion Bar in a former life, The Cosmopolitan Bar has been resurrected with its original lion-carved bar and some new giant red wingback chairs and serves liquor-loving food. Indulge in your inner high horse while sipping gin-laced cocktails or explore the treasures in the wine cellar downstairs, which boasts well-known vins like Fairview and Newton Johnson as well as small-stock delights, including De Morgenzon DMZ Maestro White and Raka Select Barrel Merlot.  

24 Albrecht Street, Maboneng 

[email protected] 


Dive into African art 

With traditional art, design and materials covering every visible surface, Milk Bar is just the place to visit for an immersive experience of the African aesthetic. A seat at the wooden bar of this colourful, airy drinkery lends a won’t-break-the-bank taste of African extravagance, with bartenders stirring and shaking throwback potions ranging from the ginger beer-charged Mozambican Hurricane to the Pineapple Ginger Dawa, described as the ‘best medicine in Africa’. If the drinks are flowing too freely, nosh to your heart’s content on bar snacks like lamb meatballs, bobotie nachos and wet biltong. Don’t fill up if you’re planning to have a meal though – sustenance is nigh with enormous smashed cheeseburgers and pulled brisket bunny chows. 

21 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank 

010 594 5128 


Track down old Joburg 

Journalists, hipsters and seasoned daytime drinkers have long favoured the city’s oldest surviving bar and grill. The Radium Beerhall is an icon for a reason – and if its walls could talk, things would get interesting. The old Joburg charm, which comes alive on the live jazz nights when the embossed tin ceiling vibrates in tune with the music, is as much of a draw as the cheap but reliable drinks, pizzas and burgers that circulate the floor on a daily and nightly basis. To get the most out of Radium, ditch the red-and-white-clothed tables and perch yourself at the bar where you’ll find patrons watching sport and sipping on hard tack and Castle Light – often at the same time. 

282 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove 

011 728 3866 

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