LISA DE KLERK

Cocktails were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Luckily, the 1800s have come and gone and two centuries of further experimentation have perfected these much-loved concoctions. However, many of today’s watering holes still seem to get it wrong. Perdeby took up the arduous task of scouting Pretoria’s best cocktail hotspots.

TriBeCa

The TriBeCa brand is renowned for only the finest choice coffee. Even their factory was deliberately fashioned to resemble a coffee bean. However, when their Design Square Café opened its doors in 1998, their cocktails became legendary too.

TriBeCa’s interior appeals to a diverse clientele. The candy-apple chairs, 60s-inspired floral wallpaper and scores of old-school snapshots crammed around the barista create a laid-back retro vibe. Once you page through the menu, old school goes out the window and you’re in a cosmopolitan cocktail lounge.

If you’re the type who prefers your comfort zone, TriBeCa is the place to enjoy classics such as Frozen Margaritas, Strawberry Daiquiris, Piña Coladas, Mojitos and Cosmopolitans, which are made with as much painstaking perfection as a signature cocktail. Looking for something different and laced with decadence? TriBeCa has blended our chocolate and alcoholic fantasies into the Chocolate Martini. Made with real chocolate, Frangelico and a splash of vodka, this is an absolute favourite among TriBeCa patrons. For surplus magic, substitute the house vodka with Absolut Vanilla.

Not to be mistaken for the CBD branch that doesn’t serve alcohol, TriBeCa is situated in Design Square in the Brooklyn area. Cocktails are priced between R30 and R40.

Pangaea Salon Privé

“Pangaea” was the name given to the supercontinent that existed millions of years ago. The concept that all of us ultimately came from one landmass, before the continents split apart, is reflected in Pangaea’s remarkable worldly décor. It’s as if a piece from every part of the globe has been drawn into this little utopia of fine stone walls, sheer red drapes, intricately woven lanterns, chandeliers and ethnic prints.

The atmosphere is one of informal luxury. Every Thursday night the Salon Privé entertains customers with a live jazz act. Pangaea hosts many other events throughout the year, including comedy nights, hubbly nights and a Halloween night.

Though the cocktail menu is slight, Pangaea serves only the finest. This means that you will find only Skyy vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, Bacardi Superior rum and José Cuervo tequila in your cocktails – no cheap generics.

For the brave, there is the Pangaea Iced Tea – a heavy-weight that includes all the above-mentioned spirits. This big gun is served long with Monin Cassis and red Grapetizer. For the less brave (or more indulgent) the Coco Berry Caipirinha will add colour to your night. It’s Brazil’s national cocktail with an even fruitier twist – Germana Cachaça cane, muddled with fresh lime wedges, mixed berries and natural coconut extracts. It even comes served with a berry fan, in case the description hasn’t made you feel festive enough.

Pangaea Salon Privé is situated in Brooklyn Bridge in the Brooklyn area. Cocktails are priced between R40 and R50.

Baobab Café & Grill

It’s hard to miss this pan-African super-restaurant hanging on the side of Menlyn Park. Inside (and outside, as the many levels of the restaurant include expansive balconies) is an African paradise complete with real trees and waterfalls. Yes, waterfalls. Despite being, well, enormous, the attention to detail guarantees you will forget that you are inside a garish mall and embrace the earthy ambience. Baobab boasts a wealth of signature cocktails to be enjoyed in the most scenic environment: on the terrace with its spectacular view of the eastern suburbs.

The French Mojito puts a novel spin on the classic Mojito: berries, cherry liquer, mint, lime juice, vodka, gomme, white rum and soda. Other delicious spin-offs include the Watermelon Mojito and the Sour Apple Margarita.

If you enjoy adding some oomph to your dessert but tire of the usual Dom Pedro or Irish coffee, try Baobab’s Strawberry Shortcake – Amaretto, crème de cacao and vodka blended with fresh strawberries and ice-cream. If this doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Banana Shortcake or the Peppermint Crisp Martini.

Baobab is situated in Menlyn Park Shopping Centre. Cocktails are priced between R30 and R50.

Rhapsody’s

Rhapsody’s is a cocktail lover’s heaven which requires no introduction, and there’s likely one near you. The menu has something for everyone, from cocktail novice to cocktail connoisseur.

Ladies: may we present “a rare but revered reward” – the Multiple Screaming Orgasm. According to Rhapsody’s, vodka, Cape Velvet, Kahlua, Amaretto, cream and cherries is all a girl really needs. For men also wishing to indulge, but fear misplacing their testosterone, we offer the Obama Barrage. It seems the American president was alluding to a can of Guinness draft, sweetened with shots of Frangelico and Cape Velvet, with his catch-phrase “Yes we can!”

If you love the classics, but find yourself on the fence between a Strawberry Daiquiri and a Piña Colada, look no further than the Miami Vice – the most delectable fusion of the two favourites.

Finally (and not for those with weak stomachs or delicate tongues), Rhapsody’s offers the Barman’s Speedrail. Also known as the Barman’s Revenge, this devil includes Bacardi Rum, Captain Morgan Black, Smirnoff Triple Distilled vodka, Tanqueray gin, Southern Comfort brandy,  Triple Sec and Blue Curaçao with red Grapetizer. Good luck!

Rhapsody’s currently has six branches in Pretoria, including Brooklyn, Hatfield Square, Sunnyside, Menlyn, Centurion and Woodhill. Cocktails are priced between R30 and R60.

Photo: Jerome van Zyl

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