SUNDAY TIMES - Get a taste for Roaring ’20s hijinks at Rosebank's coolest bar
Sunday Times Food By Yolisa Mkele, 2017-04-19 09:56:31.0

Get a taste for Roaring ’20s hijinks at Rosebank's coolest bar

The bar staff at Sin + Tax are World Class entrants, meaning great service every time.
Image: Supplied

The likes of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano left us with one enduring gift - the speakeasy. Born of the prohibition era's oppression of alcohol-fuelled fun, speakeasies have become the epitome of the dimly lit watering hole for those who enjoy a bit of a dirty tipple.

Cue Sin + Tax. Carved out of a hole in the wall on the corner of Rosebank's Bolton Road, Sin + Tax is a South African attempt to recreate those heady prohibition nights without the threat of being raided by Johnny Law.

The first thing you notice about the bar is that getting in is harder than squeezing a bowling ball through a catheter tube. In true speakeasy fashion, you need a password to gain entry and only the coolest kids seem to know what they are.

We were lucky enough to have a knowledgeable friend digitally whisper (he sent a Whatsapp) the word "candlelight" to us to get us past the door.

From there you walk down a barely lit staircase and into cocktail nirvana. Many of the bar staff are either former or current World Class participants. World Class is the globe's largest and most competitive bar-tending competition. This means that all the cocktails on offer are meticulously prepared and liable to taste like angels doing the macarena on your tongue.

The menu changes every season to ensure the use of fresh ingredients, but you can still find staples like an Old Fashioned or some variation on a Negroni.

Teetotallers will be happy to know that they've not been forgotten. If alcohol rubs you the wrong way, the bar staff are more than happy to mix you a virgin version of one of the cocktails. Mind you, where's the fun in that?

There's also an extensive wine collection, but if you walk in thinking you're going to throw back a few beers before a big night then best not bother.

Hunger and Sin + Tax are not on speaking terms. If you have an appetite to sate the best on offer is some popcorn or snacking biltong, but then again food is not really the point of the place.

Its purpose is to transport you into a modern retelling of Al Capone's nightlife that's the peak of cool. It does that with aplomb.

If you find yourself needing to up your cool points or simply taste the city's best cocktails this side of The Landmark, then mosey on over to Sin + Tax and get yourself pickled.


Who to take: That girl you've been trying to impress who may have been harbouring thoughts that you're boring.

How much: Cocktails range from about R70 to R100, so pad your wallet accordingly.

When to go: On a date or after a successful bank robbery.

What to drink: An Old Fashioned See.

What to do once there: Post multiple pictures on Instagram so that the world can see how you roll.

When it's open: From Tuesday to Sunday.

Address: Corner of Bolton and Jan Smuts Roads, Rosebank, Johannesburg.

More info: Visit

• This article was originally published in the Times.