Julian Short, head mixologist and co-owner of Sin+Tax at work behind the bar. Picture supplied.

Sin + Tax Bar, which made its debut in the Johannesburg nightlife scene in December of 2016, is a trendy watering hole on Rosebank’s hipster avenue, Bolton Road, modeled like the underground speakeasies of Prohibition America that has been named in the top 100 bars in the world.

This establishment, being the only bar on the African continent featured on the list, is charismatic for many reasons, the first being the double-entendre in the name. 

The combination of “syntax”, which refers to the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language, and “sin tax” which is tax on items such as tobacco or alcohol is so appropriate.

Paintbrush, Inverroche Amber gin, grapefruit juice, MCC, thyme. Picture supplied.

In its 5th edition, the 2019 list features bars from 26 cities in 20 countries. Johannesburg-based Sin + Tax broke into the World’s 50 Best Bars’ extended 51-100 list at number 88 and is the only bar from the African continent to be featured by World’s 50 Best Bars since 2012. The 2019 World’s 50 Best Bars and the extended 51-100 list together showcase 100 of the world’s best bars from 27 countries around the globe. New York’s Dante took honors for World’s Best Bar. 

The Big Cheese. Parmesan infused Bombay Sapphire, pear & white balsamic, acacia honey, Nua Prosecco. From our seasonal menu - Monopolies. Picture supplied.

Hidden behind an unmarked door at the corner of Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue in Rosebank, Sin + Tax was conceived by a group that is passionate about bringing world class cocktails to South Africa, and with a bold mission of creating one of the world’s 50 best bars. 

The bar’s creative vision is driven by Julian Short, head mixologist, owner and winner of Diageo’s World Class competition for South Africa for 2017. Short said “the whole team behind Sin + Tax is ecstatic to be honored by the industry’s leading awards. We’re really excited to have made significant progress towards our mission and will continue to innovate and put South Africa on the global map in our industry.” 

Lucy in the Sky with Black Diamonds. Patron Blanco, lime leaf and black lemon, cold brew coffee, citrus. Picture supplied.

The World’s 50 Best Bars is an annual list that celebrates the best of the international drinks industry. Now in its 11th edition, it provides an annual ranking of bars as voted for by more than 500 drinks experts from across the globe. 

The list represents the ultimate international guide to the world top bars and drinking destinations. The 2019 awards saw London leading with 10 bars in the top 50 and six in the extended list; New York follows with six bars in the top 50 and four in the extended list.