Cocktail bar is outrageously cool
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OUTRAGE of Modesty, which opened a couple of months ago, has to be hands-down the coolest bar in town. And we all know how cool we Capetonians like to be.
It’s in Shortmarket Street in the city centre but you won’t see any signs. The wall of the building is painted charcoal and devoid of markings. The only indication is a light above the door guarded by a man in a smart black suit and tie. He has a clipboard and a walkie-talkie and will facilitate your entry.
You can book your table, or seat at the bar, from where you can watch the bartenders mixing their fabulous concoctions, any time from 6pm till late. I’d recommend this because the venue is tiny; it has space for only 27 people and the point of the man at the door is to maintain this number. It’s not a place that is ever going to get overcrowded and that is tremendously appealing. If there is room for you, you will be granted access. If not, well, you’ll have to hang around on the pavement or go next door to The House of Machines while you wait.
Another reason to book is because you’ll get a confirmation e-mail with a reference numbe, then a follow-up reminder e-mail and after your visit, a third to say thank you. Going out for a cocktail has never been fancier or more professional.
As for the cocktails, they are the next level. The menu is burnt on to a heavy wooden board and it is explained it’s not so much about the base spirits as it is about the flavours. So, where it says “Bee Pollen”, the description is “bee pollen, oak, wild thyme, lemon charcoal”. This is to avoid bias towards or against certain spirits and to encourage patrons to select their drink based on other elements.
For example, many will say: “Oh no, I hate tequila,” when seeing it as an ingredient in a cocktail. This could have something to do with drinking shooters of not the best quality, because there are some damn fine sipping tequilas in the world. The point is, don’t let former bad decisions put you off one of the best drinks on the planet – the Icy Hot.
It is a layer of chilled tequila (and some other ingredients that complement its taste and cunningly take the edge off it... green apple, honey vinegar, lavender) topped with a warm coconut cream and white chocolate foam. The result is that each sip you take is a combination of textures and temperatures that is utterly delicious and dangerously addictive. And the aroma! It’s like the meringue your granny used to make. It’s hard not to toss it back in one gulp then lick out the glass but, at R100 a pop, you want to make it last a little longer.
Yes, the drinks prices are higher than most other cocktail bars but I didn’t feel ripped off. The overall experience is worth the price – from coming in through that unmarked door, climbing a dingy neon-lit staircase, then entering the bar itself with its giant mural of JFK and a tattooed Jackie Kennedy dominating the back wall, to the carefully selected music, potted succulents, bathroom with mirror ceiling and the interaction with the talented bartenders. There is no cheesy flaring with bottles – in fact, there is not a branded bottle in sight – but there is definitely drama with liquid nitrogen and billows of smoke.
Ingredients used are complicated and extensive and many components are prepared days in advance. Besides the set menu of cocktails – which will change, along with the decor, every few months – you can ask the bartenders to mix you something personal.
There is also a small selection of wines, craft beers, and MCC and snacks are available.
This is no ordinary bar, not by a long shot.
l Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm till late, Outrage of Modesty is at 88B Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 021 422 2902, e-mail [email protected]