This establishment is charismatic for many reasons, the first being the double-entendre in the name. Second, the menu is twofold and changes seasonally. There’s one menu, The House of Classics, and then another made up of signature cocktails with an overarching theme.
The current speciality menu, Tasseomancy, is inspired by Julian Short’s travels and refers to a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds or wine sediments.
I ordered a drink (Short detests the word “cocktails”) from the new menu and one from the renewed House of Classics menu, which includes mixed drinks for the discernible such as a French 75 and daiquiri. I ordered a Negroni.
Surely, you’d think nothing can improve a Negroni - it’s gin, vermouth rosso, Campari and twist of orange.
This version has not a twist but a teardrop shape of orange that reaches all the way to the bottom of the glass, and instead of clinking ice cubes there’s a geometrically cut square block. With each sip, vermilion candle-lit liquor slips across it like water across the bow of a boat.
You can also improve on a Negroni by using your own barrel-aged gin, so that the spicy earthiness of the wooden barrel seeps into the mix. Phenomenal.
The third reason why Sin + Tax bar is so charismatic is it’s spearheaded by Short, who is arguably South Africa’s best mixologist.
Last year, Short took part in the most prestigious mixologist competition in the world and scooped the 2017 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year in South Africa. Sin + Tax Bar also boasts a rather enigmatic entrance down, an alleyway with no signage, setting the scene for a night out with a difference.