Image: Annalize Nel

THE COALITION

Pizza aficionados, rejoice — there’s now a spot that serves up what you want — think traditional, wood-baked, quality-topped Neapolitan pizzas that beg to be washed down with a glass of Sangiovese. Neapolitan pizza differs from the variety we know: bases are a bit thicker, circumferences a bit smaller, and at Coalition, Tipo 00 flour and fior de latte mozzarella take the quality up a few notches. Owners Shayne Holt (from Parkmore’s Eatery Jhb and Parliament fame), Jason Cederwall, and Shilesh Muralidhara were inspired by the simplicity of the perfect pizza, which they had savored abroad and have now brought to Joburg.

“A couple of tweaks have been necessary for our market (such as slicing the pie, which is technically forbidden), so where possible we compromise, but try and keep it honest and authentic,” Holt says. “My favourite is the Regina (named the Holtini for obvious reasons), so we changed up the generic offering of ham and raw mushrooms for Coppa (cured pork neck — delicious and full of flavour) and thyme-roasted mushrooms, which just adds another dimension to an already perfect pizza.”

We suggest taking a seat below the Roald Dahl quote on the wall and diving into an Americano aperitif (Campari, vermouth, and soda) and a real Margherita. “To get a feel for real Neapolitan pizza and what sets it apart from the ordinary, you have to start with a Margherita,” Holt says. “It’s silly how a simple cheese and tomato pie can be elevated to a thing of beauty.”

Open daily: noon to 10pm 010 900 4987

Image: Charles Johnstone

THE SECRET BAR AKA SIN & TAXES

There’s a secret entryway inside Coalition that leads to a place where scintillating cocktail dreams are made. Mixologist and cocktail designer Julian Short has represented South Africa in three international global bartending finals, in Mexico, Cuba, and Sweden. He’s brought back the global inspiration, and this is reflected in each drink.

His favourite drink on the travel-themed menu? A cocktail called the No 9. “It’s special to me because it tells the story of my first trip overseas to Mexico through its ingredients and presentation. I love this drink because it showcases the diversity of good tequila so superbly that it catches customers off guard,” Short says.

“Most people have this assumption that tequila is only meant to be taken as a shooter and that it’s the stuff hangovers are made of. The drink itself has the most amazing scarlet colour, which comes from a smoked pomegranate shrub, and is representative of the vibrant colour of the soil found up in the mountains of Mexico. Finally, the cocktail is garnished with coriander and cinnamon, while a small Mexican stamp is pegged to the side of the drink.”

Open Monday to Saturday: 5pm to 2am

Image: Annalize Nel

BOLTON ROAD COLLECTION

If you love the cafes of Paris, then you’ll adore this new spot, where tiny tables and a wraparound bar hug the corner where Bolton Road meets Jan Smuts Avenue. Owner Bruce Beattie says: “I love the neighbourhood; it has so much character, so we wanted to add to that. I wanted to create a bar and restaurant that’s for everyday, but also makes use of great quality produce. I love the cafes in Paris and I think that’s influenced us quite a bit.” The building is a former scooter sales garage, and the old tiles have been chipped off the interior walls, exposing the raw brick underneath, and creating an urbanised space.

Bentwood chairs and a smattering of greenery make you feel as if you’re in a Brooklyn hangout. Try a Bolton Road Spritz — a local take on Italy’s Aperol variety — and the heirloom tomato salad, which is light and refreshing and comes with a side of char-grilled, home-baked sourdough. “The sea bass is pretty awesome too,” Beattie says. It’s served grilled, on charred gem lettuce, cauliflower purée, a light garam masala sauce, and coconut foam — accompanied by that same delicious sourdough. New additions to the menu will be launched early in February, as will a secret Valentine’s Day menu. “You have to book to find out more,” Beattie says.

Open daily: 11am to 1am (Monday to Thursday); 8am to 1am (Friday to Sunday) 011 3276104


PROOF LIQUORS

If artisanal gin were the tipple of choice for 2016, South Africans’ love of it is only increasing in 2017, reckon Dyllan Kent and Travis Briscoe, owners of Proof Liquors. “Controversially, we’ve seen a rise in demand for the South African, sipping-style tequila and mezcal. South Africa ranks fourth in the world for production of Agave-based spirits and this is starting to show in the variations that are now being produced,” they say.

Proof sits alongside Coalition, and provides a personalised liquor-buying experience for its customers. “Too often we walk into a bottle store and are inundated with choice, and there’s no one to really help us learn what’s fresh, new, and, more importantly, good value for money,” the duo says. So, if you’re after an informative chat about grappa or cognac, swing past Proof.

Open daily: 9am to 6pm; proofliquor.com

Image: Annalize Nel

BAR BER BLACK SHEEP

Who says whisky and hot towel-shaves don’t mix? This barber-meets-bar has a warm, cosy atmosphere, where you can watch the goings on of the bustling street beyond from the comfort of a low-slung leather sofa. Rory Sandilands, the man behind Blo hair salons in Parkwood and Maboneng, is a co-owner of the bar, together with Shelley Britten, Leon Plutsick, and Claire Gribben.

“We wanted to create a space that was reminiscent of an old-school barber, where you would get your hair cut and be handed a whisky at the same time. More and more men are spending time on their grooming and want to have various options and a bespoke service, not just a run-of-the mill short-back-and-sides,” the owners say. “It’s also an up-market speakeasy where you and your friends or business associates can enjoy a cold beer on tap, or an unusual whisky and cigar.” We suggest a pairing of a different sort — a glass of Monkey Shoulder whisky with a luxurious hot-towel shave.

Open daily: 9am till late; 011 037 3660

Image: Charles Johnstone
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