Three South African Bars On The 50 Best Acadamy’s new Discovery list

The 50 Best Acadamy annually rank the top 50 best restaurants and bars around the world. In recent years they’ve extended the list to a 100 and now they’ve released a database of restaurants and bars the academy recommends. Sights are clearly set on becoming a Michelin Guide alternative.

For 17 years, the 50 Best Acadamy has been compiling authoritative rankings based on the votes of its international network of experts. Until now, it has only revealed the restaurants and bars that received sufficient votes for them to be ranked – this is not the case anymore.

The new discovery list provides a deeper, richer library for people to draw on for eating and drinking inspiration as they traverse the world. Featuring more than 1,600 venues in 75 countries, each restaurant or bar on the new website has received votes from the 50 Best Academy.

The Test Kitchen is the only South Africa restaurant on the Top 50 list, but now with the Discovery list, the public can find 27 Mzansi venues that the academy recommends.

These are the local bars that caught the academy’s eye:

Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen

This Cape Town venue aims to turn local cocktail tradition on its head with its menu of bold and expertly crafted drinks. Inside it’s all dark hues, rustic wood and touches of greenery to create a warm yet relaxed vibe. When it comes to those drinks, however, the territory is less familiar. Sustainability runs through the entire offering, with closed-loop ingredients being reused and adapted into new elements. They also use a completely waterless system, chilling each drink without using ice. The bartenders’ uniforms have also garnered plenty of attention, what with them all dressed in lab coats and busily mixing up their concoctions.

Lucky Shaker

Opened by bartender Michael Stephenson back in 2014, this Durban joint has a laid-back and effortlessly cool vibe. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a wall covered in greenery, Lucky Shaker is vibrant on light summer evenings and transitions well into moodier nights. Taking centre stage is the bar itself, with daily specials chalked up on the board. Beyond the tasty classics and seasonal house specialties, this bar is all about eco choices, using kegs for its soda and tonic water and whey instead of egg whites, all in an effort to reduce waste.


To access Sin+Tax, guests need to make a beeline for Johannesburg pizza spot Coalition and tap out a tune on a metal door. Once inside, this speakeasy venue is welcoming and relaxed. The low-lit and intimate space has a few seats at the blue-tiled bar or low-slung leather couches to sink into. When it comes to the drinks, the menu is seasonal and bartenders work hard at evolving the offering with flavour-centric combinations – but rest assured, the classics are not forgotten either.