What makes a good cocktail bar? Well, the drinks obviously, followed by the setting, the nibbles and the vibe. Mix them all together and through some alchemy you’ll have a winner like Durban’s new The Charlatan Neighbourhood Cocktail Bar.

Owners Chris Strover and Sean Klokie explain the slightly surprising name. "We chose The Charlatan for its association with making something from nothing, creating a bit of magic to enchant and delight," says Strover. "We’re proudly Durban and wanted a space that would be welcoming to everyone — very much a neighbourhood meeting space."

Located in a partially open-air courtyard, the setting is ideal for balmy KwaZulu-Natal evenings. And the industrial feel of the exposed brick walls, hand-sanded Blackwood bar, raw timber and low lighting is a sophisticated choice.

The drinks menu is just what you want from a dedicated cocktail venue — it has all the classics, though nothing as pedestrian as a cosmopolitan. Think negronis, daiquiris with interesting twists and whisky sours. Then there are nods on the drinks menu to the eponymous neighbourhood: "Other Side of the River" and "On the Berea", for example. It’s quirky touches like this that are sure to make The Charlatan a local hotspot in no time at all.

If cocktails aren’t your thing, the bar also serves Darling Draught at R35 a pint, a beer of the week and a good selection of wines.

An added bonus is the food and a varied though small menu. "We’ve taken inspiration from all over the world and given it an SA spin," says Strover, "like the traditional Turkish brik, which is given local flavour by filling it with potato curry." Something unique for Durban is the concept of stuffed crispy bread cones which can be filled with myriad delights including chicken, prawn and chorizo concoctions.

You can also expect regular live music — and thought-provoking artwork on the walls, all by Durban artists.

The Charlatan, 200 Florida Road, Durban. 076-158-2455

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