There are a few bars around town which just keep popping up on your social feeds. The Botanical Bar in the CBD is one of these, and on one moody Thursday afternoon we headed down for a drink.
We arrived just after one o’clock and even though we weren’t there for lunch, they had a harvest table packed out which smelled amazing. The restaurant was filled with tourists, business people and students alike – either having a drink or grabbing a bite.
At the Harvest Table you have a choice of chicken / fish, meat or vegetarian quite reasonably priced at R70 for a large portion. Sides that day included a herby brown rice, and a spinach, sweetcorn and cucumber salad that sounded amazing.
We headed to the bar section to sit down. The walls are filled with several different jars and mixes, giving it a very apothecarial feel. We were too early for the mixologist, so we couldn’t have any of their famous cocktails, but I was actually glad to be able to experience the botanicals in a more unaltered form.
We had the pleasure of being taken through the drinks’ choices by the lunchtime manager. You have the option of either bitters or shrubs. Each of the different flavours of either bitters or shrubs can be paired with liquors such as gin, whisky, vodka and brandy. While their bitters are home-made and usually served with soda and a simple syrup, the shrubs are made with apple cider vinegar, a fruit syrup and topped with soda.
We had a taste of all the different options and eventually I settled for the Buchu & Naartjie bitters paired with gin, while Daniël opted for the Melon & Spekboom shrub, also paired with gin. While I enjoyed the distinctive botanical taste of the bitters, Daniël liked the fermented acidity of the shrubs.
Not in the mood for either of those? Their bar is fully stocked with local liquors and we recognized a few of our favourites; Leonista Agave, Die Mas Brandy, Copeland Rum, Inverroche Amber Gin and the Joseph Barry VSOP Cape Brandy. They also serve some Lady Bonin tea, and you can also find a pretty decent cup of coffee there.
All in all, the bar had a very relaxing atmosphere and the dimmed lights and cozy seating made it a perfect stop on a rainy afternoon in the big city.