Incognito is a welcome, slick bar in the heart of the wine country in Constantia, south of the Cape Town City Centre. The area is big on restaurants – especially the high-end ones associated with its premium wine estates – but seemingly offers a limited number of options for those just looking for a drink in a stylish setting.
Enter Incognito – named more for its location, tucked away behind the Cape Dutch gables of the historic Alphen Hotel, than any kind of low-key modesty. The Alphen is all oak trees and classic architecture, but a short zig-zag down a nondescript passage between two of its restaurants delivers you to Incognito, a striking architectural contrast to the rest of the venue.
The square glass box overlooks the back of the lush hotel gardens and swimming pool, with floor-to-ceiling doors that slide open and invite the greenery in. Interior tones are light greens and dusty greys, with a long bar backing the room. There are plenty of TV’s for the live sport crowd, but they top the bar, rather than detracting from the rolling green vista out front. There are two small terrace sections to the left and right as well, if you enjoy lounging in the sun while enjoying your drinks.
The focus is very much on drinks, thanks to the presence of sister restaurants Blanko and La Belle at the Alphen, where more substantial meals are on offer. Not that the small plates and bar bites are lacking – there’s plenty of crunch and punch to items like bacon, manchego & almond-stuffed dates; chicken & beef sliders; spiced whitebait; croquettes and a few different pizzettes.
The cocktail menu is divided into a couple of different sections to help narrow down the choices – there are a handful of interesting signatures, like the Passion Fruit Vanilla Sours and Rooibos Cosmo; a trio of tasty G&T’s; concise classics and some virgin options for the supporting cast. There’s a decent wine list, with MCC’s, Champagnes and a name-check of quality local producers by the glass, carafe or bottle. Essentially, if you can’t find something on the drinks menu that tickles your fancy, you’re probably not thirsty.
There’s plenty of vibe to lap up – Incognito is rapidly becoming a popular after-work drinks location for the locals, so it’s bound to be a more ‘authentic’ experience than any number of bars at the tourist-centred spots around town and the seaboard. An array of live DJ’s set the early evening tone with classy classics that are more than mood music and less than a full-on party – keeping the atmosphere light without turning the venue into a club.
If you want to sneak in with the kids to grab a drink and a snack, do so before 16:00 – after which point, it’s a ‘No Under 18’s’ zone.
Alphen Hotel, Alphen Drive,