This is the entrance to Cape Town`s most secretive speakeasy bar

You whisper a secret passphrase in a big bearded Cosa Nostra’s ear, and like magic, an unassuming steal door screeches open behind the muscle to reveal a Gotham-City-like alley, eerie enough to make little Bruce Wayne’s palms sweat. But then, from the back a lonesome ceramic water closest glows into focus, signalling a safe passage to Cape Town’s newest and most hush-hush 1920s style speakeasy bar.

This was my experience on Sunday as I undertook my first journey through these twittens and powder rooms back to alcohols most notorious era, the US Prohibition, where expectations of hip jive and top-notch bootleg awaits. I was not disappointed.

ProhibitionMain1 e1538993715828 This is the entrance to Cape Town`s most secretive speakeasy bar

Speakeasy during the Prohibition

But let’s rewind to about a week ago, when an acquaintance handed me a cryptic message, inviting me to the opening of a new cocktail bar in Cape Town.  No address was given. This, according to my informant, was only to arrive later and should be kept a secret at all time. I further obtained that the bar will be furbished as an underground speakeasy and that the custodians intent to establish it as South Africa number one cocktail bar. Bibulous excitement immediately filtered through my veins.

The Speakeasy Revival

Over the last decade, the biggest international trend in nightlife and bars was without a doubt the rise of the “speakeasy” bar – a bar loosely rooted in the history of the secretive drinking spots that operated during Prohibition. This modern revival can be traced back as far as 1999 when Milk & Honey in New York City first reintroduced it, but it wasn’t until 2007 that it really took off with the opening of New York City’s PDT – which stands for “Please Don’t Tell”.  This homage to the 1920s swiftly spread throughout the world as patrons reconnect with the bygone era and old-school cocktails.  From New York to Jerusalem, speakeasies opened up everywhere, except Cape Town.

Like some kind of Dry’s curse, The Mother City’s speakeasy scene stayed barren for years, until now.

Wets Rejoice

Cape Town’s latest nightery exuberates everything a modern-day speakeasy-themed bar should be. The intimate rustic warehouse interior adds to the underground feel, while the period furniture and time-honoured bar add the necessary opulence.  To the one end of the venue, a jazz quartet rhythmically chopped away at their instruments while the luminary barkeep mixed rejuvenated libations at the opposite end.

Cocktail prices range between R120, for the short and bitters, like “The Last Will & Testament”, to R220 for the sweet and playful, like the “Monkey See Monkey Do” cocktail.

Access to the bar is restricted to those who know the password and to keep with the “Please Don’t Tell” methodology, owners requested that no social media or photos be taken inside the venue. Let’s see how long Cape Town can keep a secret.

Although speakeasies have become somewhat of a clichè internationally, with pageantry and overpriced drinks, this new juice joint marks a much-overdue and exciting journey for Cape Town’s ever-evolving cocktail scene and we can’t wait to get secretly blottoed.

Learn more about the Prohibition