We chat to the barmen at some of Durban’s most fabulous watering holes to find out what makes them the hottest spots in town, plus ask them to share some of their top cocktail recipes
1. THE DUTCH
Dean Spencer is general manager at The Dutch. What he loves about his work is the satisfaction it brings, “both in a new cocktail or drink creation and on the customers’ faces after trying it”. The Dutch, he says, is one of a kind, offering unique cocktails and live music: “You can’t go wrong.”
Make one of their cocktails: Caribe colada
Shake together 50ml Ciroc Pineapple, 12.5ml Martini Bianco, 25ml Fabari Coconut Syrup, 25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice and 50ml freshly squeezed pineapple juice. Fine-strain into a glass coupe and garnish with a slice of pineapple.
Visit: Corner Chartwell Drive and Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga.
2. HARRY’S BAR
Award-winning mixologist Haroon Haffajee (above) is the Diageo Reserve brand ambassador for KZN. He consults on the development of Harry’s cocktail programme and provides training for the bartenders and waitrons. “I have an intense passion for the hospitality sector and the spirits business – my job brings these two together in the best possible way.” He says Harry’s offers “the best tableside cocktail served in Durban”.
Make one of their cocktails: The time to Tanqueray
Place 50ml Tanqueray No TEN gin and 25ml elderflower syrup in a brandy glass and ignite. Infuse flame with orange oils while lit, then pour into a tumbler filled with ice. Add 25ml fresh orange juice, 12.5ml fresh lemon juice and three dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir to finish.
Visit: Harry’s Bar at Harvey’s restaurant, Umhlanga Centre, 189 Ridge Road.
3. SIDE BAR
George Louis Mthembu (above) is the marketing manager and brand custodian at Side Bar. His role is to ensure that standards are maintained, internally and externally. “I love the instant gratification you get from a happy customer.” Side Bar, he says, is a space for urban thinkers, “connecting you to the city, the people and some great conversation”.
Make one of their cocktails: Pimms and lemonade
Serve with ice and garnish with slices of orange and cucumber.
Visit: Side Bar, 200 Florida Road, Morningside.
4. LUCKY SHAKER
Michael Stephenson (above) is the owner and bartender at Lucky Shaker. “I get the opportunity to create, learn, educate and offer genuine hospitality every day.” He describes the bar as “an oasis for those in search of a better experience”.
Make one of their cocktails: Paradiso
Mix 37.5ml Aperol, 60ml fresh ruby grapefruit juice and 20ml honey syrup. Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a large, ice-filled wine glass. Top with 75ml dry sparkling wine. Garnish with grapefruit slice and mint sprig.
Visit: 5 Park Lane, Parkside, Umhlanga.
5. OYSTER BOX HOTEL
Douglas Shandu (above) is head barman at the Oyster Box. “I have the greatest day when I suggest a drink to my guests without them looking at the menu and they end up loving it.” He describes the hotel’s Lighthouse Bar as the hottest rendezvous spot in the province for spectacular sunsets and sundowners.
Make one of their cocktails: Umhlanga schling
Add 50ml cane spirit, 25ml sugar syrup and two slices of crushed pineapple to the shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Add 12 mint leaves, clapped between your hands to release the aromas and prevent them from going bitter. Place crushed ice in a hurricane cyclone glass, add the mixture and stir clockwise for 10 seconds. Fill glass with crushed ice and top up with 75ml mango juice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Visit: 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga.
This is one of many enjoyable reads in KZN LIFE, a magazine that takes an an edgy and irreverent look at what’s happening in the province. If you live in KwaZulu-Natal, get your FREE copy with the Sunday Times on Sunday, February 21, 2016.