Bad cocktail days are over – here are some of Durban’s most unusual aperitifs
Thanks to the Diageo World Class SA Mixology Championships initiative, our bar-related vocabulary has expanded to include words such as “mixology”, with our local palates broadening to appreciate a flavour profile that extends beyond sugar and artificial colouring
These are the drinks worth having, where everything, from the shape of the ice cubes, to the type of glass and the presentation is as integral to the experience as the flavours are.
Add some flames
At Harry’s Bar in Umhlanga, flaming and smoke-infused cocktails are signature drinks. “Cocktail culture has grown tremendously over the past two years,” explains owner Andrew Draper. “People like to try new things.” One of the new things at Harry’s is the Fruity Frenchman: vodka and cassis syrup, ignited with a citrus zest spark, then poured flaming into chilled apple and cranberry juice.
Another flaming favourite is the Time To Tanqueray, similar to the Fruity Frenchman but using a fragrant elderflower syrup in place of the cassis.
For more unusual flavours, pull up a bar stool at Lucky Shaker, where owner Michael Stephenson has taken influences and inspiration from his global travels and distilled them into various glasses, bottles and bowls. The Scarlet Letter combines gin and raspberry with a red wine reduction, egg white foam and lemon. You may have heard of latte art, but here there’s a bit of egg white art as red hearts are shaped into the foam, making for a charming presentation. The result is a fruity, elegant drink that’s a great introduction to more adventurous flavours.
For something a little stronger and imbued with a bit of retro nostalgia, try Lucky Shaker’s Double Feature, a bourbon mixer infused with butter popcorn and honey, mixed with bitters and served with caramel popcorn. It speaks of cigars, art deco cinema and black-and-white film.
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Words: Shirley Berko