A new Hope – and a StrangeLove – for cocktail connoisseurs

Photo by Alix Rose-Cowie

IN a world of informal bars and pre-mixed spritzers, the new StrangeLove Cocktail Lounge in Salt River stands out for its distinctive offering of small-batch hand-distilled vodka, gin, agave spirit, rhum agricole (sugarcane-juice rum), and Campari-style African Amaro, and its unique menu of curated cocktail and mini-food pairings.

The cocktail lounge, sited in what was Hope Distillery’s mezzanine-level tasting room, features pared-back Scandi furnishings in dark hues, lush greenery and wooden finishes. While resident mixologist Decks serves up the carefully selected array of cocktails — which can also be paired with meals from the StrangeLove à la carte snack menu — customers in the generous open-plan space can take in the bird’s-eye view over the distillery and its vast copper stills, and get a glimpse into the story behind the spirits they sip.

Photo by Warren Heath

Established in 2014 by co-founders Leigh Lisk and Lucy Beard — both of whom left corporate law careers in London to follow their hearts (and palates) back to Cape Town — Hope Distillery was the first licensed small-batch distillery to open in the Mother City. The distillery has expanded from its early days of gin production into a diverse catalogue of vodka, agave spirit, rhum agricole and an in-house African Amaro that can only be tasted at StrangeLove.

Margarita, photo by Alix Rose-Cowie

There’s certainly nothing strange in the love shown in the cocktail-and-mini-food menu, served in three courses: aperitifs, mains and digestifs. Pairings include the Sbagliato, comprising house campari-style liquor, vermouth and Prosecco, along with a taralli cracker; the El Presidente, a cocktail of rhum agricole, vermouth and grenadine, with rolled labneh and salted cracker; and the Gin Alexander, made with gin, cacao and nutmeg, with a mini nutmeg macaron.

And if you’re keen to take something of the experience home with you, Hope Distillery also recently added a new on-site shop selling bottles of rhum, agave, vodka and gin, as well as branded merchandise.

Clover Clubs, photo by Warren Heath

Recalling the warped view through a ribbed drinking glass, the newly designed StrangeLove logo captures the sense of disruption that this new arrival brings: a space dedicated to not only locally made spirits but also the appreciation of quality spirits in a union with food for customers to explore, taste and marvel at.

StrangeLove Cocktail Lounge welcomes cocktail afficionados between 5pm and 10.30pm on Thursdays and Fridays. Seating is limited to 30 a night – walk-ins will be accommodated if there is space available, but bookings are highly recommended.

You might also like
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments