Joburg’s hot new wine bar
Sylvia McKeown conducts a ‘meeting’ at Joburg’s new wine bar
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 suits them," he says. Which is how a hybrid margarita, made with Adi Badenhorst’s new 4th Rabbit mezcal, lands in front of me.
And the wines — they’re Diack’s real love. Beyond an already interesting wine list is a cellar tucked into the corner. It’s filled with vino acquired through begging and adventure. Nabbed by harassing makers on the phone or diving into their cellars in search of something special. Once these wines sell out, they will never be replenished.
Also, and here’s a big bonus, this is serious "wine by the glass" territory. Currently there are 66 wines by the glass, from R33 to R900. With food that ranges similarly in price from R20 snacks to R250 fillets, there’s clearly something for all occasions — glitter, sadly, not guaranteed.