You want to party like it’s your birthday, but not quite sure where? On any night in Cape Town, the easiest thing to do would be to hail a cab to Long Street, the city’s nightlife hub on a stretch of the central business district.
But if you’re on a quest for a place with more of a special-occasion feel, you may want to look beyond Long. Nearby Bree Street is lately home to a clutch of sophisticated new restaurants and lounges; a bit farther afield, trendy Camps Bay is the spot for beachside sundowners.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate with a scene or a view or both, one of these five top Cape Town bars should be a good fit.
1. Tjing Tjing
The views from this trendy rooftop lounge in the heart of the city are unbeatable, but the sultry red-tinted interiors are also a good bet on nippier nights, since the cocktail menu has some of the most creative drinks in town. Say cin cin with a Tjing-Thai-Tini (vodka, lime, chile, ginger, palm sugar, lemongrass) or a Samurai (sake, lime, Cointreau).
If you want to celebrate with the city’s most stylish movers and shakers, you’ll probably want to head to ritzy Camps Bay, a swank seaside stretch with some serious South Beach flair. With blue-and-white interiors evoking a chic beach bar, Café Caprice is one of Camps Bay’s glitziest spots. Thanks to its prime setting right in the heart of buzzy Victoria Road, revelers are treated to postcard-worthy ocean views along with their berry mojitos and piña coladas.
Planning a flapper–themed birthday bash, perhaps? Or in the mood for a soirée with Victorian-era leanings? This popular bar on Cape Town’s lively Bree Street manages to evoke a Prohibition-era speakeasy as well as a Dickensian-inspired tavern. Here, some of the country’s best mixologists, decked out in bowler hats, create theatrical cocktails that hark to a bygone era, such as the Brimstone & Fire (rum, citrus, cloves, caramel syrup and fire) or Oliver’s Twist (chamomile-infused vermouth, Ciroc, apricot liqueur, orange).
4. Piano Bar
The low-key Piano Bar in the hip De Waterkant district regularly hosts local acts playing jazz music with distinct African soul. Stick with simple drinks here, like a whiskey or bourbon.
This hipster haunt is the quintessential grungy dive bar, all neon lights and Formica tables, but sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for. Bonus points for the solid comfort foods—chicken and waffles and pulled-pork sandwiches are a great foil to a boozy night, and the new ramen bar added upstairs is perennially packed. There’s a choice of craft beers on tap.