Strange bedfellows

Distillery meets cocktail bar at StrangeLove Lounge.

By Leah van Deventer

Ever innovating, Hope Distillery has made yet another pioneering move in the South African drinks space – this time, by launching a cocktail bar on the premises. We chatted to Lucy Beard, who co-owns the venture along with partner Leigh Lisk, to find out more.

YLA: Tell us about the StrangeLove concept.

LB: It’s an experiential cocktail bar designed to showcase the different spirits we distil. The House Menu is a showcase of these spirits, as well as new creations such as our African Amaro (our take on a Campari-style spirit) and house-made coffee liqueur (which will be available for sale from the bar). The menu will change seasonally and will be focussed on local ingredients and flavours with many of the components of the cocktails made in-house.

You’ve been operating purely as a distillery for 9 years. What made you decide to open a cocktail bar?

We had been hosting gin tastings at the distillery for many years and wanted to change things up a bit, as well as highlight that we distil more than just gin. The fun part about gin distilling is getting to play with different botanicals; the cocktail bar now allows us to play with different spirits, and we can produce products that wouldn’t necessarily be commercially viable in a retail environment, but which we can use in cocktails and sell from the bar.

What’s the significance behind the name?

We’re both children of the 80s, so it is inspired by the classic 80s hit by Depeche Mode (itself inspired by the cult Stanley Kubrick film).

Tell us about your cocktail menu – what makes it different?

It’s divided into three sections: the House Menu, the Classics Menu and the Martini Menu.

The House Menu is divided into three courses, with each drink served with a small food pairing. It’s like a tasting menu at a restaurant, except that here the hero is the cocktail. The cocktails on the House Menu either have an in-house element to them or are a riff on a more traditional cocktail.

The Classics Menu is a shorter list of a range of classics, each highlighting a different spirit. It also includes a curated selection of local beer and wine.

The Martini Menu is designed to allow guests to explore Martini styles, offering a choice of nine different Martinis (seven with gin and two with vodka). The menu includes a flight of mini Martinis … guests can order their choice of three different mini Martinis, which allows exploration to find their preferred Martini.

Bartender Decks Hartman has also created non-alcoholic versions of some of the cocktails, including one from each course of the House Menu, so those not drinking don’t need to miss out.

StrangeLove by Hope © Warren Heath

What sort of experience can guests expect?

Only open Thursday and Friday evenings, StangeLove offers the unique experience of drinking carefully crafted cocktails in a distillery. The cocktail lounge is on a mezzanine level overlooking the distillery floor and is designed to be laid back and simple yet refined with attention to every detail. Guests can pop in for a drink before dinner; stay for the evening, working their way through the 3 courses of the House Menu and staying for a cheese or charcuterie platter; or come past for a nightcap on their way home after dinner.

7 Hopkins Street, Salt River, Cape Town

021 447 1950


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