I stare at the carnage on the table; there are eight cocktails and a glass of wine strewn across it. There is gold dust and glitter in some of the glasses. Homemade kettle chips have made me thirsty for more of the sparkly beverages. It’s like the best big-night-out with friends. Only, it’s not. Rather it’s just your average midday meeting at Douglas + Hale, with generous chef proprietor James Diack, Joburg’s sustainable-food darling.

Douglas + Hale has replaced Diack’s The National in Parktown North. It’s still, like his other spots, Coobs and Il Contadino, all about good food — but equally, and especially, about the booze. It’s Jesse Chinn, a warm Johnny Depp lookalike, who has given Douglas + Hale its fresh start in the liquor department. Chinn breathes wide-eyed excitement into every glass he mixes — whether the cocktail you order is off the actual menu or off the secret one in his head. "I like to ask people what they want or how their day has been and make something that...

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